This year turned out to be a bumper crop for advertising. Creative and brand integration were up and U.S. ad spend for the first three quarters of 2012 was up 2.5% across all media types compared to 2011, according to tracking firm Nielsen.
From a sector perspective, the big spenders were the categories that traditionally put a lot of budget toward marketing: automotive, which includes OEM and dealer; fast food; telecom/wireless; pharma; retail; motion picture and auto insurance. The biggest advertisers by spend during the period included Procter & Gamble, AT&T, GM, Toyota, Ford, and Comcast.
Nielsen said the best-liked ads and integrations include Ancestry.com’s spot featuring Ellen Harrington, Subway’s placements on “The Office” and JCPenney’s Ellen Degeneres ads. In fact, JCPenney, despite its financial troubles, had 4 of the top 10 ad efforts.
The firm said that the most-liked ads of the year worked because of audience-appropriate humor, an ownable creative concept and a relatable, emotional appeal. Product integration in entertainment also helped boost this year’s top 10 campaigns, "which suggests that using a storyline to deliver brand messages is effective in traditional creative and in branded integrations as well," said the Nielsen report.
Nielsen chose ads that aired up to Nov. 30, excluding the Super Bowl, filtered them by parameters like brand recall and brand association, and based likeability on the top ads' versus the mean score of all ads during that period.
The brand integrations on show episodes that consumers remembered the most were Subway on "Community"; Porsche on "2.5 Men;" Chevrolet on "Hawaii Five-0;" Tootsie Roll on "Mike & Molly"; Louis Vuitton on "Person of Interest"; M&M's on "The Good Wife"; Charmin on "Revolution"; Chevy again on another episode of "Hawaii Five-0"; and Kit Kat on "The Middle."