China's 2008 ad spending breaks record

17% increase over '07 period in lead-up to Olympics

HONG KONG -- Advertising spending in China for the first three quarters of 2008 reached a new high of 381 billion yuan ($50 billion), Nielsen research said Monday.

The record-breaking spending was driven by the lead-up to the Beijing Olympics in August, marking a 17% increase from the same nine months in 2007. However, advertising spending in August, the month during which the Games were held, grew only 7% compared with last year.

Olympic sponsor advertising -- including such brands as McDonald's, Adidas and Coca-Cola -- accounted for 40% of total spending, and while competitors tried to compensate with their own marketing efforts, the market as a whole saw generally slower growth, Nielsen said.

Spending in September dropped 18% year-over-year. Nielsen made no predictions as to future ad expenditures in China.