If the catch phrase of the Watergate era was, "Follow
the money," today in advertising circles, it may well be, "Follow the
With cable-network ratings on a growth binge and major
broadcast-television networks suffering steady audience erosion, it appears that more and
more advertisers are following the viewers.
Saab Cars USA Inc. -- which broke its new campaign two
weeks ago on Cable News Network, Discovery Channel, The History Channel and others --
became the latest advertiser to steer all or virtually all of its network buys into cable,
rather than broadcast.
But Saab is far from alone, according to Bill McGowan,
senior vice president of ad sales at Discovery Networks U.S.
There are "a whole slew" of advertisers that
"spend all or virtually all of their money on cable," he said, citing various
accounts in the financial, retail, restaurant and travel categories.
Last year alone, such accounts ranged from retailers like
Walgreen Co. and Montgomery Ward & Co., to restaurants like Applebee's and
Outback Steakhouse Inc., he said, and from financial companies like Ameritrade Inc. and
Fleet Financial Group Inc., to travel's Sandals Resorts and the Republic of Ireland.
Others included Iams Co. and Benjamin Moore & Co., he
noted. Even Exxon Corp. allocated the tiger's share of its TV budget to cable last
All told, Turner Broadcasting Sales Inc. officials said
last week, nearly 250 advertisers spent all or nearly all of their TV budgets on network
cable, as tracked in Nielsen Media Research's "Monitor Plus Ad*Views"
The Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau singled out
one-dozen of those as having spent between $10 million and $36 million on cable, including
Ameritrade, Pitney Bowes Inc., FirstUSA and Iams.
Most of last year's clients have continued their
cable-only buying through the first quarter of 1999, a TBSI spokesman said.