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Spot Suffers Off-Year Blues

Fourth-quarter national spot will be down an estimated 15% from last year, sellers say, thanks to the absence of the national political advertising that was in the market a year ago. A rule change in wireless and some auto debuts might lift spending, but individual markets remains fluid and inconsistent.

Starting Nov. 24, wireless customers will be able to change service providers while still keeping their old phone numbers. As expected, providers are pouring dollars into consumer advertising.

"Telcom money is coming in like crazy," says Tim McAuliff, CEO, Petry Media Corp. "That category in the last two weeks placed an enormous amount of money into spot."

Unfortunately, he adds, "retail still is lacking, corporation [spending] is not doing well, and fast food is very slow. Last week was more quiet then we'd like. Fourth quarter can be very spurty."

Patrick McNew, EVP/director of operations, PHD local media network, agrees. "There are some good values in the local spot market, and there isn't a lot of activity. But it's pretty uneven. We've had cancellations and add-ons in various markets depending on how vehicle sales are doing."

Detroit-based McNew notes that car and truck launches might spur spending. With Ford asking local dealers to kick in $100 million for promotion for the Dodge Durango/Ford F150, once inventory builds, spot spending could increase as well.

"Daimler Chrysler alone will introduce or re-introduce 10 models between now and the end of 2004," notes Television Bureau of Advertising President Chris Rohrs. "But it's still going to be a challenge to meet the 1%-3% growth we forecast for 2003."