Increasingly fierce competition between supermarkets has driven up their spending on television advertising – as a host of traditional big-spenders rein in their outlay in response to the slowing economy.

Asda hiked its spending on TV advertising by 52% over the past six months to £34.7m, according to Nielsen figures quoted in the Daily Telegraph.

The increase meant Asda was the 12th-heaviest spender on TV advertising for the six months to 30 September, having previously placed 28th with a spend of £22.9m for the equivalent term last year.

Tesco again outspent its supermarket rivals, increasing its ad spend by almost 19% to £47.9m – and becoming the UK’s fifth-biggest TV spender overall.

Sainsbury’s raised its spending by 21% to £32.8m, with Morrisons ploughing an extra 15% into TV commercials to spend £25.5m over the past six months.

Consumer products giant Unilever again spent more on TV advertising than any other company, with the owner of Hellmann’s, Persil and Pot Noodle splashing out almost 5% more than last year to £101.7m.

However, Marks & Spencer cut back its spending by 20% to £25.3m. The high street giant joins major advertisers such as Vodafone and Ford with double-digit reductions over the six-month period.