Television is the dominant medium for car advertising in western Europe. Carmakers scheduled 1,291 advertisements on TV channels across the region during the first five months of the year, according to Xtreme Information, a London-based company that monitors new TV and press advertising.
In 2000, carmakers spent 716.6 million on TV advertising in the five main European markets of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.
The next most popular medium was newspapers, with auto advertising spending of just over 500 million.
Advertising industry insiders say European auto advertising spending likely declined across all media last year, although official figures are so far unavailable. They blamed the downturn in advertising following the September 11 terrorist attacks, plus heavy discounts that are being offered in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
In the first five months, both Ford and Opel had high advertising profiles on European TV. Ford sponsored UEFA Champions League football coverage, along with Mastercard.
Opel, meanwhile, promoted a wide range of models including the Agila, Astra, Combo Tour (in France only), Corsa, Vectra and Zafira.
In Italy, Opel concentrated on the Agila. One TV advertisement depicted an Agila with four pregnant women on board, with a voiceover suggesting that the car can easily carry more passengers - obviously referring to the babies-to-be.
Opel heavily promoted its Zafira compact minivan in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Norway and Spain. UK division Vauxhall did likewise in its home territory.
French carmakers PSA/Peugeot-Citroen and Renault were also very active on TV in the first five months.
The new C3 supermini has been the center of attention for Citroen, which has been running campaigns in all the major markets: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden and the UK.
Of the 28 different channels used, Citroen was able to show its 'Flirting Pilot' advertisement - in which a jet fighter pilot flies upside down above the C3's sunroof, smiling at the girl in the passenger seat - in nearly all of them.
PSA partner Peugeot's campaigns covered its key models, while French rival Renault concentrated on the Clio, Laguna and new Vel Satis.
Nissan put a lot of weight behind the launch of the Primera. Mazda, meanwhile, used TV to launch its 'Zoom-zoom' campaign aimed at creating a sportier image. The 'Zoom-zoom' theme has been used on advertisements for the new Mazda6, the Demio, Premacy and even the MX-5 roadster, which is still being promoted on TV in European markets such as Italy, Spain and the UK.
With the World Cup finals now being played out, there has been a soccer theme to some TV commercials. Fiat led the way using Italian football star Totti in the latest advertising for the new Stilo. Renault is beginning to use Arsenal and France striker Thierry Henry in its latest campaign for the Clio.
As one of the major sponsors of the 2002 World Cup, Hyundai and its subsidiary Kia have been remarkably active on European TV, promoting their entire ranges.
Kia also made use of sponsorship on satellite sports channel Eurosport.
DaimlerChrysler and Honda used pan-European campaigns on the CNN news channel.
Predictably, the new Corolla dominated Toyota's advertising in Europe, although a lot of marketing weight was also put behind the Yaris supermini.
Volkswagen produced some taster advertisements for the new Phaeton luxury car that were shown in Germany only in April and May.