Social protest
Israeli activists protest for social justice. July 6, 2012. Photo by Nir Keidar
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Moti Milrod
A 2011 protest outside Tnuva's office in Herzliya: Game over, signed, "The cottage cheese revolution". Photo by Moti Milrod

More than a year and half after Itzik Alrov opened his Facebook group calling for a boycott of Tnuva’s cottage cheese, Israel’s top advertisers still seem to be in a state of confusion, afraid to reach out to consumers. A summary of advertisers in 2012 by Ifat Advertising Monitoring found that companies whose products were targeted by the 2011 cost-of-living protests continued to shun the spotlight and reduced their advertising budgets.

Supermarket chains cut their spending on advertising the most in 2012, from a total of NIS 325 million in 2011 to NIS 265 million, a decrease of 19%. Super-Sol shrank its advertising budget by 36%, to NIS 41 million, while Mega cut spending on ads by 32%, to NIS 35 million. The advertising budgets of both of these leading chains plunged by close to 50% in the past two years, from their 2010 level of NIS 78 million and NIS 68 million, respectively, for Super-Sol and Mega.

Food manufacturers, heavily pounded by the protests, also cut back on media exposure. Strauss Group, still the country’s top spender on advertising, reduced its ad budget by 4%, to NIS 111 million, following its NIS 115 million peak in 2011, with 25% of the budget dedicated to its Tami4 water dispenser systems.

Tnuva slashed its advertising expenditures by 21% in 2012 to NIS 38 million, half the amount it spent in 2010. The company dropped from seventh place in 2010 to the 17th spot on the list of heaviest advertisers.

Osem cut its ad budget in 2012 by 18% to NIS 56 million, while Unilever Israel chopped 31%, spending just NIS 44 million compared to NIS 80 million in 2009.

Procter & Gamble displaced Super-Pharm from second place on the list with NIS 93 million in advertising after shaving 2% from its budget, with the pharmacy chain dropping to third place by paring down its spending by 14% to NIS 86 million.

Advertising spending in Israel’s mobile communications sector, which underwent upheaval in 2012 with the entry of new players, dropped 16% to just NIS 98 million in 2012, despite heavy advertising by the new operators in the field, particularly HOT Mobile.

Partner Communications (Orange), the country’s third biggest advertiser in 2005, at NIS 58 million, spent just NIS 21 million last year which sent it tumbling off the list of top companies. Competition in the industry focused on the bottom line for consumers and budgets couldn’t stretch far enough to promote brand awareness.

Another sector that’s been saving its advertising shekels in recent years is banking. Overall, these spent NIS 98 million in 2012, down from NIS 122 million in 2009.