Unilever and Sky adspend dropped 30% in 2018

Marmite: Unilever brand
Marmite: Unilever brand

FMCG giant falls out of top three spenders in the UK.

Unilever dropped out of the top three spending advertisers in the UK in 2018 for the first time in five years, as its expenditure fell 29% to £82.8m, figures from Nielsen have revealed.

The owner of brands including Marmite, Dove and Persil has been on a mission to cut back marketing spend since 2017 and reduce the number of agencies it works with.

Unilever's key rival Procter & Gamble, which owns brands such as Gillette, Ariel and Always, clawed back the number one spot from Sky, even though the FMCG giant’s spend dropped 5% to £186.5m.

Sky moved to second place, after overtaking P&G last year, and reducing year-on-year spend by 30% to £124.2m. Nielsen said this was the biggest decline among the top-spending brands.

McDonald’s has entered the top three in third position, up from fifth, as it increased spend by 28% to £122.6m. It has overtaken Unilever and BT, which dropped spend by 5.6% to £109.3m.

Amazon’s spend is also up 18% in the UK to £87.5m. Outside the top 10, Comparethemarket.com and Camelot posted significant increases in spend, up 30% to £62.2m and 40% to £53.3m respectively.

Asda has entered the top 10 with a 13.7% rise to £68.8m, making it one of only two supermarkets in the list alongside Tesco. 

The data does not include digital adspend.

Barney Farmer, UK commercial director at Nielsen, said: "With traditional advertising spend down 1.41% from 2017, our latest data highlights the changing advertising strategies from the biggest brands and retailers.

"However, it’s interesting that the rise and fall of advertising spend doesn’t seem to be consistent within sectors. While most supermarket retailers have opted to reduce spend, Asda and Tesco increased their spend, and this is the same for finance, with HSBC and NatWest dropping spend, but many others continuing to show increases in year-on-year spend.

"There are many factors influencing this, from hardening budgets due to Brexit to competition within the sector. There are likely to be some interesting times ahead."

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