Tops In 2008 Top Advertisers, Most Popular Commercials

Tops In 2008 Top Advertisers, Most Popular Commercials

Nielsen has issued a year-end look at the most popular trends among Americans during 2008, covering everything from the top TV programs to the most popular consumer packaged goods.

Procter & Gamble was the top advertiser, spending more than $2.3 billion on traditional media advertising in the U.S. through September 30.  General Motors and AT&T rounded out the top three advertisers.

Among the year’s most-liked commercials, ads by the NFL, Budweiser, and Geico were most popular with American audiences. 

Product placements by CVS (on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”), TRESemme (on “Project Runway”), and El Pollo Loco (on “Flipping Out”) were most popular with viewers.

NBC’s “Biggest Loser” featured the greatest number of product placements (6,248 occurrences) of any broadcast TV program, through November 30.

Top 10 Advertisers – U.S. Spending – Traditional Media

Rank Parent Company Ad Dollars Spent

(US $)

1 Procter & Gamble Co $2,342,319,397
2 General Motors Corp $1,441,747,399
3 AT&T Inc $1,317,893,377
4 Verizon Communications Inc $1,125,700,512
5 Johnson & Johnson $1,059,109,138
6 Time Warner Inc $878,355,332
7 Toyota Motor Corp $819,377,026
8 General Electric Co $807,869,688
9 Ford Motor Co $742,708,529
10 Pepsico Inc $730,503,931
Source: The Nielsen Company (January 1 – September 30, 2008).
Note: Data is based on spending estimates in the following media: Network TV, National Cable TV, Spot TV, Syndicated TV, Spanish-Language TV, Nat’l/Local Magazine, Network/Spot Radio, Outdoor, Coupons (CPGs only), Nat’l/Local Newspapers (display ads only), Nat’l/Local Sunday Supplements.

Top 10 Best-Liked TV Commercials

Rank Brand Ad Description




1 NFL Ephraim Salaam describes how Chester Pitts became an NFL player (:60) 216
2 Budweiser Dalmatian trains Hank the Clydesdale for hitch team (:60) 208
3 Geico Gecko on subway train with older man (:30) 192
4 AMP Energy Dale Earnhardt Jr. knocks out a gorilla in different places (:30) 191
5 M&M’s Pink peanut M&M is attacked by squirrels in park (:15) 186
6 Bridgestone Squirrel and other forest animals scream as car approaches (:30) 185
7 Lowe’s Jimmie Johnson fixes things, including school bus, using Kobalt tools (:30) 185
8 Slim Jim Couple at wedding is attacked by man’s mini evil twin (:15) 181
9 Bud Light Bud Light is brewed to give you the ability to breath fire (:30) 175
10 Macy’s Celebrities read “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” (:30) 170
Source: The Nielsen Company (January 1 – November 30, 2008).
*Note: Data includes primetime broadcast networks only. Only ads launching since January 1 were considered. Nielsen IAG’s panel includes viewers ages 13 and older.

Top 10 Most-Effective Product Placements (Brand Opinion)

Rank Brand Ad Description Program / Network Brand Opinion Index*
1 CVS Pharmacy Company pays bills and provides supplies to families Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (ABC, 3/16 – 11/9/08) 299
2 TRESemme Company provides prize to winner; sponsor of hair salon Project Runway (Bravo, 1/2 – 10/20/08) 256
3 El Pollo Loco Jeff and team eat lunch from fast-food restaurant Flipping Out (Bravo, 6/24 – 8/12/08) 254
4 Winner can sell line through online retailer; sponsor of accessories wall Project Runway (Bravo, 1/2 – 10/20/08) 254
5 Sears Retailer provides tools, appliances and supplies for homes Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (ABC, 1/6 – 11/30/08) 253
6 Glad Company provides prize to winner; products are used during challenges Top Chef (Bravo, 3/12 – 11/28/08) 251
7 Whole Foods Market Contestants shop for ingredients to use in challenges Top Chef (Bravo, 3/12 – 11/28/08) 248
8 Food & Wine Magazine Winner will be featured in magazine and showcase food at festival Top Chef (Bravo, 3/12 – 11/28/08) 245
9 GQ Magazine Winning model will receive a fashion pictorial in men’s magazine Make Me a Supermodel (Bravo, 1/10 – 4/3/08) 244
10 Hugo Boss Patti’s clients shop with style expert at clothing store The Millionaire Matchmaker (Bravo, 2/12 – 4/7/08) 241
Source: The Nielsen Company (January 1 – November 30, 2008).
*Note: Data includes primetime broadcast and cable networks (A&E, Bravo, Discovery, ESPN, FX, Lifetime, NAN, TBS, TLC, TNT and USA). The placements delivered the greatest percentage of viewers who both recalled and cited an improved opinion of the integrated brand. Nielsen IAG’s panel includes viewers ages 13 and older.

Top 10 Broadcast Network TV Programs – Product Placement Activity

Rank Program Network Total # of

Product Placement


1 Biggest Loser NBC 6,248
2 American Idol FOX 4,636
3 Extreme Makeover Home Edition ABC 3,371
4 America’s Toughest Jobs NBC 2,807
5 One Tree Hill CW 2,575
6 Deal Or No Deal NBC 2,292
7 America’s Next Top Model CW 2,241
8 Last Comic Standing NBC 1,993
9 Kitchen Nightmares FOX 1,853
10 Hells Kitchen FOX 1,807
Source: The Nielsen Company (January 1 – November 30, 2008).

View the press release.

Relive the greatest hits of 2008 — stay tuned on Nielsen Wire for more Tops In 2008 coverage.

Look ahead to the new year with Nielsen Wire’s 2009 Industry Outlook series.