Domestic Auto Spend Stalls in ’08

U.S. automakers are making little headway in their efforts to secure a federal aid package of $25 billion, and as the threat of bankruptcy looms for General Motors, there is little doubt that the domestic auto category is going to take an even greater hit in 2009.
Even before the market began cratering in early October, shares of the Big Three have slalomed downward since mid-May, and unremarkably enough, auto spend has followed suit. According to Nielsen Monitor-Plus data, Ford and Chrysler each spent 22 percent less on advertising in 2008, while General Motors’ ad spend dropped 6 percent.
Through July, GM retained its position as the top-spending auto company, investing $1.25 billion in advertising. Third-place Ford shelled out $953.5 million in the first seven months of this year, while Chrysler spent $592.6 million, good for fifth place overall.
As the American car industry scaled back, foreign auto generally increased spend. Honda upped its ad investment by 13 percent to $621.6 million, while Daimler cranked up its marketing bucks by 48 percent, to $212.6 million. Volkswagen was up 23 percent, to $209.6 million.
Second-place Toyota was flat versus the same period in 2007, spending $999 million, while only Hyundai (-17 percent) and Nissan (-15 percent) were down.
All told, ad spend was down 10 percent across the entire auto industry, per Nielsen data.

Television continues to be the beneficiary of the vast majority of auto spend. Of the $6 billion spent on auto ads, more than $5 billion (83 percent) were slotted in national broadcast, cable and spot TV, while $640 million (11 percent) were placed in magazines.
On Wall Street, GM’s fortunes rallied somewhat in early afternoon trading Thursday, as shares rose 10 percent, to $3.08, after falling earlier in the session to $1.70, their lowest level since 1938.

After falling as low as $1.01 in Thursday morning trading, shares of Ford inched up to $1.25 at 12:30 EST.