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Apparel Retailers Spent Big on Advertising in 2014

Apparel retailers may have shelled out big bucks for advertising last year, but some have shifted more of their budgets to non-traditional media like mobile ads, Youtube videos and social media.

According to Advertising Age’s most recent annual report on the top 200 Leading National Advertisers (LNA) in the U.S., retail was the biggest traditional ad spending sector, with a total of $15.7 billion in measured-media spending in 2014, a 2.2% decline from 2013. Measured media includes traditional outlets like broadcast and cable television, print media like magazine, newspaper and outdoor, and some search marketing. Retail represented 11.3% of total measured-media spending in the U.S.

The 16 apparel retail companies appearing in the top 200 and shown in the chart below increased their advertising spending by a collective 5.4% in 2014. Measured media spending was flat for the group, while unmeasured, nontraditional (including digital) advertising rose by more than 9 percent.

Walmart Stores led the retail pack, with a $1.94 billion total ad spend last year, up by 0.7%. The world’s largest retailer split its U.S. ad budget fairly evenly between measured and non-measured, with comparable increases in both.

Target shifted more of its $1.6 billion ad spend into unmeasured categories.

Macy’s reduced its advertising spend slightly in 2014, but remains the largest national and local newspaper advertiser, having spent $377.6 million on the medium last year, 38 percent more than Proctor & Gamble, the second largest newspaper advertiser.

Nike’s ad budget increased 13.7% to $1.3 billion in 2014, making it the biggest spender among apparel brands. The lion’s share of Nike’s advertising is in the unmeasured area, but measured-media spending increased 50 percent.

Amazon increased its ad spending the most of any retailer, up 47 percent to $1.2 billion.

J.C. Penney’s ad spending declined the most in the retail sector, by almost 4 percent to $887 million, with most of the drop in measured media.

The 200 Leading National Advertisers analyzed in the report increased spending a mere 2 percent in 2014. These companies are spending smarter, shifting more to cost-effective media like digital. Unmeasured spending captured 47.8% of the top 200 LNA spending last year, up from 45.8% in 2013.