PARIS - The auto industry spent 9.6 percent more on advertising in 1996 in the major European markets. Carmakers' unit sales rose only 6.2 percent in 1996.
According to figures compiled by the advertising industry, mainstream manufacturers spent $4.3 billion advertising in the five major markets on TV, newspapers, magazines, radio and posters.
The price war in France was partly responsible for the increased advertising. Renault was the biggest advertiser in Europe, followed by Peugeot.
Of the 15 top brands only three spent less in 1996 than in the previous year. Three others showed little or no increase.
The biggest growth in advertising spending came from German manufacturers. Audi, BMW and VW all spent much more than in 1995.
General Motors and Volvo reduced spending in every market. Seat cut its spending in all but one market.
Advertising budgets are usually fixed on a pan-European basis. However, the money is often spent on a market-by-market basis.
Opel remained the biggest spender in Germany. Its share of total automotive media spending was 9.5 percent. Overall, Opel spent less on advertising across Europe. It cut its German spend by 1 percent. Opel concentrated its advertising budget on television, spending $69 million on TV advertisements.
VW, the second largest advertiser, also cut its spending in Germany.
Audi, however, spent 43 percent more in Germany as it launched the A3 and generally pushed its way further into the luxury market. BMW increased spending by 16 percent, Mercedes was up 8 percent, and Ford up 1.4 percent. Renault was the biggest non-German advertiser, followed by Fiat/Lancia.
There was a significant increase in TV advertising, which reached $518 million. One carmaker, Alfa Romeo, quit advertising on television.
Print media remained more important in Germany. Newspapers attracted $577 million. Magazine advertising was worth $526 million.
Radio advertising remained stable. Poster advertising was variable: while Audi moved heavily into roadside poster display, many other carmakers reduced their poster spend significantly. GM cut back by 97 percent, and three marques dropped posters entirely.
Vauxhall cut its media spend by 2.7 percent in 1996, but it remained the biggest automotive advertiser in the UK at $102 million. Vauxhall spent more on newspaper advertising ($52 million) than on TV ($46 million). It reduced its spending on posters by nearly 73 percent.
Ford was the UK's second-heaviest advertiser, with $89 million on all media. It spent virtually the same on TV as GM, but it spent less on newspapers and magazines, and quit poster advertising.
VW raised its spending by 50.7 percent to $50 million, and Audi was up 64.5 percent to $27 million.
The auto industry as a whole spent $385 million on TV advertising, and $403 million on newspapers and magazines. Renault, Rover and Peugeot put most into poster advertising.
Renault spent $232 million, nearly 14 percent more than in 1995, to defend its position at home. Peugeot spent 8 percent more at $200 million. Citroen spent $186 million, a 13.4 percent increase.
TV spending dominated most budgets. Citroen's $87 million led investment in TV advertising. It was followed by Renault, with nearly $83 million. Overall the industry spent $467 million on TV advertising, a 10.1 percent rise on 1995. Newspapers and magazines attracted $427 million.
Carmakers put $259 million into radio advertising - vastly more than in any other EU market. But not all of them seem to think this is money well spent: Ford, GM, VW, Fiat, Seat, Mercedes, BMW and Alfa all cut their radio budgets substantially. Volvo quit radio completely. Renault put the most money into radio - $60 million - up 42.6 percent on 1995.
Despite a cut of nearly 6 percent, Fiat remained the biggest advertiser. It spent $88 million. But Renault made a big marketing push; it increased advertising by almost 60 percent. Renault spent $44 million on TV and $22 million on newspapers.
Fiat's share of auto advertising across all media fell from 13 percent in 1995 to 11.3 percent last year. Renault's share rose from 7.4 percent to 10.4 percent. Citroen increased advertising in Italy significantly, and its share of voice rose from 4.6 percent to 6.1 percent.
TV remained the favorite medium for car advertising, with only three manufacturers cutting their budgets. Radio attracted much heavier spending by six carmakers. Renault was especially keen on radio. Mercedes stopped spending on radio, Lancia and BMW started.
Overall, only four mainstream carmakers reduced their spending in Italy compared with 1995.
French manufacturers dominated auto advertising during 1996. Peugeot spent the most: $79 million. It was followed by Renault, with $68 million, and Citroen, with $63 million.
The other big spenders were those manufacturers based in Spain. Ford spent $60 million, Seat $55 million and GM $54 million.
BMW more than doubled its spend, to $11 million. Audi increased 88 percent to $27 million.
The most popular medium was TV: automotive spending rose 18.5 percent to $419 million.
Newspapers and magazines took $213 million. Radio declined 21 percent to $25 million. Seven brands, including Ford, Mercedes, BMW, Alfa and Rover did not use radio. But Audi, GM and Peugeot increased their radio budgets.
Spending on posters rose threefold in 1996, to $25 million, but several brands ignored the medium. Peugeot, Renault, Citroen, VW, Audi and Alfa Romeo all raised their spending on posters significantly.