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News Analysis 9 Aug 2021 - 3 min read

Australia's ASX-listed advertisers mapped: does ad spend correlate to share price? CommBank, Westpac, IAG, Suncorp charted

By Sam Buckingham-Jones - Senior Writer

An exercise in correlation: Mi3 mapped advertising spend to share price data between 2018 and 2020 for some of Australia's biggest brands.

Kraft Heinz took a $15 billion write down in early 2019 and watched its share price collapse after neglecting brand spend – an ironic reward for shareholders and disciples of zero-based budgeting. But does advertising investment correlate to share price? Mi3 mapped ad spend for some of Australia's biggest ASX-listed advertisers from 2018 to 2020, including the collapse caused by Covid-19. Here's what we found.

Attitude adjuster

Kraft Heinz wrote down the value of its business by $15 billion in early 2019, after years of “zero-based budgeting” following a merger with private equity giant 3G Capital. It neglected its brand spend, its share price tumbled and 3G's billionaire owner Jorge Paulo Lemann eventually claimed that cost-cutting would play second fiddle to consumer focus. Better late than never. But what is the relationship between ad spend and share price – and is there any correlation? 

University of North Carolina Professor of Marketing Jan-Benedict Steenkamp suggests The Kraft Heinz experience provides “incontrovertible” evidence.

“[3G Capital] may be generating a lot of wealth for their owners, I don’t know. But they sure as heck are not creating it for shareholders,” he stated.

Creating shareholder value, Steenkamp argues, requires ongoing investing in brands, and he compares share prices of 3G-owned AB-Inbev and Kraft Heinz to Carlsberg, Nestle and Heineken to demonstrate the fall from glory of the former two.

Mi3 wanted to test that hypothesis. So we mapped Nielsen's quarterly brand advertising spend data to share prices of some of Australia's biggest ASX-listed advertisers with some graphics help from the team at Hardhat: 

Commonwealth Bank of Australia
CommBank is consistently one of the Australia's larger advertisers, averaging $5.06m ATL spend per quarter between 2018 and 2020, according to Nielsen data.
Westpac
Westpac spent between $1.1m and $8.4m ATL each quarter, averaging $3.9m between 2018 and 2020, per Nielsen estimates.
ANZ
ANZ recorded the least ad spend of the major banks, with average quarterly ATL spend of $2.0m between 2018 and 2020, per Nielsen.
NAB
NAB spent on average $3.1m per quarter ATL between 2018 and 2020, according to Nielsen estimates.
Insurance Australia Group
IAG, which includes brands like NRMA and CGU Insurance, spent $2.8m on average ATL per quarter between 2018 and 2020, per Nielsen data. 
Suncorp
Suncorp, which includes AAMI Insurance, Suncorp-Metway and GIO Insurance, spent $5.7m ATL on average per quarter, according to Nielsen data. 
Bega
Bega spent an average of $265,000 ATL per quarter between 2018 and 2020, per Nielsen data, which appears low.
Webjet
Webjet naturally saw a massive decline with Covid, dragging down average spend to $1.4m per quarter between 2018 and 2020. 

Graphics created by Hardhat.

 

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Sam Buckingham-Jones

Senior Writer

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