Social Protests Cool Haredi Ad Market

Ad spending was flat in 2012, after two years of strong growth, according to an Ifat Advertising Monitoring report.

Sluggish consumer spending and the lingering impact of 2011's social protests finally reached Israel's ultra-Orthodox and religious advertising market in 2012. Ad spending was flat in 2012, after two years of strong growth, Ifat Advertising Monitoring reported Tuesday.

The niche sector's performance nevertheless exceeded that of the general market, in which many advertisers have halved their spending over the past two years. Moreover, there is room for growth in pitching goods and services to the religious, according to Ifat CEO Nati Yaakovi.

"The sense of recession and the shadow of the social protests, which badly hurt spending on ads in the general sector, have reached the religious sector, too, which has had difficulty showing growth in advertising spending," said Yaakovi. "The religious-Haredi sector comprises 20% to 25% of the country's population, but at best advertising spending for that sector is about 5% to 6% of advertising spending for the general sector."

Tnuva Food Industries, the No. 2 advertiser to the Haredi sector, increased its ad budget by about 20% to about NIS 3.8 million in 2012, while cutting back overall ad spending by about 20% as well.

The Super-Sol supermarket chain reduced its overall ad spending by about 50% over the past two years but increased its advertising budget for the religious and Haredi communities to NIS 3.23 million, putting it in fourth place. The launch of a new discount chain for this market, Yesh Hesed, accounted for most of the additional spending.

But other major advertisers maintained or even cut spending on ads targeting Haredi consumers, according to Ifat.

For instance, Super-Sol's rivals Bar-Col, Osher Ad and Shefa Shuk cut their ad budgets drastically last year, Ifat reported.

The Strauss Group food and beverage company, the top advertiser to the religious and Haredi communities last year, kept its ad budget for the niche steady at NIS 4.44 million while cutting its general advertising budget by 4%. Unilever was the third-highest spender on advertising that targets ultra-Orthodox consumers in 2012. At NIS 3.68 million that budget was about one-third below that of 2011. Sano, in fifth place, slashed outlays by 25% in 2012, to NIS 3 million.

Ifat's ranking of ad agencies in 2012 indicated that as in previous years Israel's biggest players had barely a foothold in the Haredi sector. Bolton-Potential, an independent, Haredi-owned ad agecy with accounts worth NIS 19.4 million, was at the top of the list, followed by Afikim, another independent agency, with accounts totaling NIS 13.2 million.

The only mainstream agency represented in the ten was McCann Erickson Israel, in sixth place with accounts worth NIS 3.53 million. Due to a change in accounting methods Ifat did not compare the agencies' performance in 2012 and in 2011.

Eyal Toueg