$4b battle of the brands a sign of economic health
This week's CCTV auction of prime advertising slots for the coming year - a key barometer of mainland consumer spending - raised a record 4.4 billion yuan (HK$4.14 billion), up a third on last year.
More than 150 companies bid for slots on Tuesday, half as many again as took part a year ago.
China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) clinched the 'diamond slot' following the main evening weather report, paying 32.4 million yuan for the first two months of the year and 30.7 million for the next two. It will use the slot to promote its Kunlun brand of lubricating oil. Rival brand President, heavily promoted this year on CCTV, has eaten away at CNPC's market share.
The bidding king was Mengniu, a dairy products firm which bought slots worth 310 million yuan. Yili Dairy was the second-biggest spender, laying down 210 million yuan. Nearly half its outlay went on six months' sponsorship of prime-time drama series.
The firm behind the Wahaha soft-drinks brand spent 76 million yuan sponsoring them for the second half of the year.