Mutual fund companies spent a total of $324 million on advertising in 1999, down slightly from the $331 million they spent in 1998, according to Competitive Media Reporting of New York. However, last year's mutual fund advertising spending was up 75 percent from 1995 when spending was $185 million.

Cable and network business-news programs as well as upscale magazines have drawn most of the nearly $150 million increase in mutual fund spending in the last five years, according to Harold Simpson, vice president for research and development at the Television Bureau of Advertising of New York. Network and spot television mutual fund advertising grew from $3.5 million in 1995 to nearly $35 million last year, according to the bureau. Cable television advertising grew from $8 million in 1995 to $38 million in 1999, according to Competitive Media.

Mutual funds also increased their advertising expenditures in magazines by 33 percent, from $95 million in 1995 to $127 million in 1999, according to Competitive Media.

Fidelity Investments of Boston was the largest advertiser last year, spending $39.9 million on all media, up sharply from its advertising budget in the previous four years. In 1998, its budget was $18.1 million and it averaged $20.5 million annually between 1995 and 1998.

The next largest advertisers, however, decreased their 1999 advertising budgets from the year earlier.

That was true of Amvescap of London, the parent company of AIM Funds of Houston, Texas and Invesco Capital Management of Denver, Colo. Amvescap was the second-largest mutual fund advertiser in 1999, placing $26.8 million worth of ads. While that budget was down slightly from its 1998 of $28.5 million, Amvescap's advertising budget has for the most part grown steadily over the last five years. In 1995, Amvescap placed only $10.8 million worth of advertising.

The third-largest mutual fund advertiser last year was Janus of Denver, spending $25.6 million. Like Amvescap, Janus decreased its 1999 advertising budget slightly from the $28.5 million it spent in 1998.

Franklin Advisers of San Mateo, Calif. ranked as the fourth-largest mutual fund advertiser, spending $24.9 million. In 1998, Franklin was the largest mutual fund advertiser, spending $32 million.

American Century Investment Management of Kansas City, Mo. was the fifth-largest mutual fund advertiser in 1999, spending $24.2 million, nearly the same as in 1998 when it spent $24.5 million.

OppenheimerFunds of New York was the sixth-largest mutual fund advertiser in 1999, spending $18.1 million. With a total advertising budget of $16.9 million in 1999, the T. Rowe Price Family of Funds of Baltimore was the seventh-largest mutual fund advertiser followed by Morgan Stanley Dean Witter of New York ($16.5 million), Strong Capital Management of Menomonee Falls, Wis. ($9.6 million) and Charles Schwab of San Francisco ($9 million). Schwab was the 10th largest mutual fund advertiser last year.

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