Within the second-tier food retailers, Lidl and Aldi are comfortably the largest spenders, shelling out £7.3m and £8.7m respectively on advertising in the year to date.

The two take different approaches to media spend. In the year to date, Aldi has spent roughly equally on TV and press, compared with 2007 when it put 60% of its spend into press. However, in the month to 16 September it put more emphasis on press, with a 70% share.

Lidl, meanwhile, has increased its investment in press relative to TV, with steady output of advertisements and glossy inserts. What little TV advertising Lidl has is pretty straightforward – ITV only, with reasonable weight on the mainland for just one week but most frequent and at much higher weights in Northern Ireland.

Press advertising in the UK is focused on the mid-market and red-top titles, with no broadsheets at all. It has a more upmarket focus on Irish press buying, with the Belfast Telegraph and Sunday World (Northern Ireland edition) giving broader societal coverage from different ends of the spectrum. In the Republic, Lidl uses the upmarket Independent and Irish Examiner and the broader red-top Irish Mail on Sunday, ignoring the Sunday Independent and Sunday World’s Republic edition, which are used heavily by the larger retailers such as Tesco and Dunnes.

The press ad message is always topical. If we look back to January, in addition to price references, it’s a Healthy Start to the Year. In recent weeks, copy has moved to reflect the recessionary mood with large headlines such as ‘Healthy Savings’ and ‘Inflation Busters’.

Each ad features a broad range of products and often pushes half-price offers. The product range is always broad, including both fmcg and homeware. There is never a move to boost corporate branding or use a celebrity in the vein of Sainsbury’s use of Jamie Oliver – the message is constantly one of price, price, price.

A recent TNS Wordpanel report claimed both retailers were growing in popularity among younger and larger families, with Aldi claiming 2.9% of sales (from 2.6%) in the 12 weeks to 9 September and Lidl moving from 2.3% to 2.4%. Both spent about £3m in TV and press over that period, but Aldi put about half of that on TV while Lidl concentrated on print. If Lidl is to keep pace, it could be an ideal time to turn on the TV.