Advertising in Spain is part of the international advertising scene, with the top twenty agencies being owned, with very few exceptions, wholly or in part by multinational groups. Most of these groups became established by acquiring or associating with local agencies, though some have built them up from scratch. In international competitions Spain regularly appears among the top three countries for the quality of its advertisements.
   After major increases in spending on advertising in the 1980s, the economic recession resulted in 1993 being described as the worst in the history of Spanish advertising, when there was a 7.7 percent decrease in advertising investment in the main media, and an overall decrease of 4.6 percent. A modest increase of around 1 percent the following year and just under 4 percent in 1995 marked the beginning of a recovery, but this was unevenly spread over the various media.
   The 1980s and 1990s have seen a major change in the relative positions of the major advertising media, and the recession and the advent of newer outlets has meant fierce competition for the attention of prospective customers. Television began to oust the daily press as the medium commanding the highest revenue at the start of the 1990s and by 1993 was attracting almost 45 percent of investment in the conventional advertising media. This was due to a policy of setting very low tariffs as an answer to the pressing need to generate income (there is no television licence fee in Spain). But the resulting saturation of the medium by publicity is causing a reaction among audiences and a change in their viewing habits. Relativities have also been changing within the television sector. The advent of private companies has led to a decline in the income and market share of the previous monopoly holder TVE, to the extent that in 1994 TVE-1 lost its prime position to Antena 3 and was continuing to lose investment in 1995.
   Though the other conventional media suffered from the effects of the rapid expansion of television advertising, both the press and radio are considered to have been successful in overcoming their difficulties and are either holding their own or marginally increasing their market share. Decen-tralized printing, technical advances, the strengthening of local sections and the increasing bulk of Sunday supplements have contributed to the recuperation of the press, and the radio channels have begun to tailor their programmes to specific and increasing audiences. Cinema and outdoor advertising hold on to their very small share of the market and it appears to be magazines, especially technical ones, that have suffered the most in the shifting relativities. Other forms of advertising between them account for very slightly more than half of all investment, and chief among them are direct marketing, accounting for over 23 percent of all investment, and, some way behind at 8 percent, publicity at point of sale. For the future the Internet is being recognized as having enormous potential for advertising and direct selling, as suggested by trends in the USA, where towards the end of the 1990s the Internet attracted at least 3 percent of investment, a figure likely to rise to over 22 percent by 2002.
   Although television heads the overall list of advertising media, there are quite substantial differences in the choice of media by the various sectors. In 1995, for example, advertising in culture and communication media, the sector with the largest investment, was split approximately 40 percent to television, 35 to the dailies, 12 to magazines, 8 to radio, 3 to supplements and Sunday papers, 1.5 to outdoor and a mere 0.12 to cinema. A roughly similar pattern was visible in the transport (cars) sector. The cosmetic, hygiene and pharmaceutical sector on the other hand showed a strong bias of 62 percent to television, with 19 to magazines and 13 to radio, with a mere 2.5 to the dailies and 2 to the supplements. The food sector had an even stronger bias to television of 86 percent, with only 1 percent each to the dailies and supplements, but it was the detergent and cleaning materials sector which put virtually all its advertising on television, a massive 98 percent. Construction, agriculture and industry, on the other hand, put 70 percent of their investment into the dailies and a further 14 percent into magazines. The drinks industry concentrated 49 percent of its investment on television, but also almost a quarter on radio. Tobacco, exiled from television, also put a quarter of its advertising on radio, but a further quarter on outdoor displays. The sector that put the highest percentage into the magazines was the textile and clothing industry at 36 percent, while the dailies attracted roughly half of the investment of the public and private services sector and the transport, travel and tourism sector.
   Of the advertisers, the largest overall investors are regularly El Corte Inglés, which tends to spread its publicity widely across the media, Procter & Gamble, which concentrates virtually all its publicity on television, and various motorcar manufacturers who tend to share the best part of their investment between television and the dailies. A General Advertising Law was first introduced in 1964 under Franco, and advertisements were regularly subjected to censorship, especially any in which an insufficiently clad female appeared. Since then there have been modifications to the general law in 1988 as well as various specific regulations or guidelines, especially with regard to television. Since 1978, for example, it has been illegal to advertise tobacco and drinks of over 20 percent alcoholic content, and in 1990 TVE's Administrative Council issued a series of guidelines relating to the standards of behaviour and language and the uses of alcohol portrayed in publicity material. But in sexual matters the revolution has been complete. Highly suggestive and provocative images, particularly of the female figure, have been used to advertise the most improbable of products, even cough lozenges, and strong objections to the exploitation of women as sex objects have begun to be voiced in Spain, as elsewhere.
   Further reading
   - H.Graham and J.Labanyi (eds) (1995) Spanish Cultural Studies, an Introduction: The Struggle for Modernity, Oxford: Oxford University Press (an indispensable handbook; chapters 15 to 22 have several references to advertising in the context of overall cultural developments since 1960).
   - Schubert, A. (1990) A Social History of Modern Spain, London: Routledge (pp. 256–64 provide an analysis of the socio-political and economic changes of the Franco regime and the transition to democracy).

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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