Trade Promotion and Advertising in Spain

A Hot Tip about Advertising in Spain

Posted on: 24 Feb 2010


Trade Promotion

CS Spain’s primary objective is to help small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to enter the Spanish market. One of our most valuable tools is counseling, including identifying the best possible trade promotion strategies for specific products or services. CS Spain has an agreement with IFEMA (Institución Ferial de Madrid), Madrid’s Trade Fair Authority that facilitates the business activities of U.S. companies in Spain. IFEMA is Spain’s largest show grounds, with more than 14 million square feet of exhibit space. It is a world class, state-of-the-art exhibition facility just five minutes from the Madrid Barajas Airport and directly linked by metro to Madrid’s city center. IFEMA organizes 80 shows annually, attended by more than 4.5 million visitors, of which 1.5 million are professionals, and 42,000 exhibitors.


U.S. firms attending and or participating in IFEMA trade fairs will have the support of CS Spain. Under the agreement between IFEMA and CS Spain, IFEMA provides advance information to U.S. companies to enable them to participate in or attend future events. CS Spain has a large office on IFEMA’s main avenue to support U.S. exhibitors and reach out to visitors. This office can be used free of charge for meetings by U.S. firms exhibiting, visiting or attending IFEMA shows.


The News Media

Spain’s dynamic media market is characterized by the legacy of Spain’s transition to democracy 30 years ago, the privatization of the broadcast and telecom markets, and the existence of strong regional identities.


Radio is the most trusted medium, but most Spaniards get their news from television. Today, Spain publishes more newspapers and magazines per capita than any other European country. Ironically, circulation figures are among the lowest in Europe. Only 42% of Spanish citizens read newspapers every day; of these, half belong to the middle class and the largest readership group is that of men between the ages of 25 and 44 years.


El País is generally regarded as the nation’s paper of record. Other influential papers include El Mundo, ABC, La Razón, and the Barcelona dailies La Vanguardia and El Periódico. Regional papers proliferate, many in regional languages. Spanish newspapers tend to have an editorial line that favors a particular political group. More than 140 different dailies (mainly local) plus ten supplements are published in Spain. Sports daily newspaper Marca rates as the most popular (readership 2,606,000). One important recent change has been the appearance of free newspapers, such as Metro (1.8 million daily readers) or 20 Minutos (2.4 million), (2,911,000) ADN (1,812,000), Que (2,226,000), which are published from Monday to Friday. As in the United States and other countries, these free papers distributed at metro stations and other key commuter hubs, and are changing the news-reading habits of Spanish readers.


Five major media holding companies own most of the newspapers in Spain. They are: Grupo Prisa, Grupo Godó, Grupo Zeta, Vocentro, and Grupo Voz. Virtually every Spanish home (99.7 percent) has a television and 89 percent of Spaniards watch television each day. TV viewers are 88.8 percent men and 89 percent women over the age of 14. Peak viewing hours are between 2:00-4: 00 p.m. and 9:00- 11:30 p.m. State-run Television Espanola (TVE 1 and TVE 2), and regional stations run by the autonomous governments have been supplemented by three national private commercial channels: Antena 3, Canal Plus, and Telecinco. Just last year the private channels overtook the government-run channels in ratings. In the last year two new privately owned national TV channels, Cuatro TV (4 TV) and La Sexta, joined the others on air.


Currently these TV stations broadcast in analog, but by Spanish law all TV stations in Spain must broadcast digitally by 2010. Two digital stations have received permission to start broadcasting in 2010: Veo TV and Net TV.


About 60 percent of Spaniards listen to radio every day for almost two hours, most to FM. Peak listening hours are early in the morning and late at night. Major radio stations include the privately owned SER, Onda Cero, COPE, and Punto Radio as well as government-owned RNE.


Spain is also home to several wire news services, such as government-owned Agencia EFE, and privately owned Europa Press, Colpisa, and Servimedia. The U.S. Embassy’s Public Affairs (PA) section maintains active relations with a broad range of Spanish media, making frequent contact with Spanish journalists through briefings, interviews, targeted mailings, research services, International Visitor (IV) grants, media tours and representational events. PA actively pursues placement of policy and program material in the major Spanish media, primarily on foreign affairs, security, and international trade issues. Spanish opinion and editorial sections often publish articles and interviews signed by U.S. government policy makers.



General Legislation

Laws against misleading advertisements differ widely from member state to member state within the EU. To respond to this imperfection in the Internal Market, the European Commission adopted a Directive, in force since October 1986, to establish minimum objective criteria for truth in advertising. The Directive was amended in October 1997 to include comparative advertising. Under the Directive, misleading advertising is defined as any "advertising which in any way, including its presentation, deceives or is likely to deceive the persons to whom it is addressed or whom it reaches and which, by reason of its deceptive nature, is likely to affect their economic behavior or which for those reasons, injures or is likely to injure a competitor." Member states can authorize even more extensive protection under their national laws.


Comparative advertising, subject to certain conditions, is defined as "advertising which explicitly or by implication identifies a competitor or goods or services by a competitor." Member states can, and in some cases have, restricted misleading or comparative advertising.


The EU’s Television without Frontiers Directive covers broadcasting activities allowed within the EU. From 2009 the rules will allow for US-style product placement on television and the three-hour/day maximum of advertising will be lifted. However, a 12- minute/hour maximum will remain. Child programming will be subject to a code of conduct that will include a limit of junk food advertising to children.


Following the adoption of the 1999 Directive on the Sale of Consumer Goods and Associated Guarantees, product specifications, as laid down in advertising, are now considered legally binding on the seller. (For additional information on Council Directive 1999/44/EC on the Sale of Consumer Goods and Associated Guarantees, see the legal warranties and after-sales service section.) The EU adopted Directive 2005/29/EC concerning fair business practices to further tighten consumer protection rules. These new rules will outlaw aggressive or deceptive marketing practices such as pyramid schemes, "liquidation sales" when a shop is not closing down, and artificially high prices as the basis for discounts, in addition to other potentially misleading advertising practices. Rules on advertising to children are also set out.



EU Council Directive 2001/83/EC regulates advertising medicinal products for human use. Generally speaking, advertising of medicinal products is forbidden if market authorization has not yet been granted or for prescription drugs. Mentioning therapeutic indications where self-medication is not suitable is not permitted, nor is the distribution of free samples to the general public. The text of the advertisement should be compatible with the characteristics listed on the product label, and should encourage rational use of the product. The advertising of medicinal products destined for professionals should contain essential characteristics of the product as well as its classification. Inducements to prescribe or supply a particular medicinal product are prohibited, and the supply of free samples is restricted.


The European Commission plans to present a new framework for information to patients on medicines in 2008. The framework would allow industry to produce non-promotional information about medicines while complying with strictly defined rules, and would be subject to an effective system of control and quality assurance.



A new EU regulation (1924/2006) came into effect on July 1, 2007 on the use of nutrition and health claims for foods. This Regulation lays down harmonized rules for the use of health or nutritional claims such as "low fat", "light”, “high fiber” “helps lower cholesterol” and the conditions for using them.


The EU published a list of health claims, referred to as the EU positive list, that includes health claims based on generally accepted science and well understood by the consumer, rather than those based on emerging science. New health claims and disease reduction claims will have to be assessed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and approved by the Commission.


Food Supplements

Regulation 1925/2006, applicable as of July 1, 2007, harmonizes rules on the addition of vitamins and minerals to foods. The regulation lists the vitamins and minerals that may be added to foods and sets criteria for establishing minimum and maximum levels.



The EU Tobacco Advertising Directive bans tobacco advertising in printed media, radio, internet and sponsorship of cross-border events or activities. Tobacco advertising on television has been banned in the EU since the early 1990s, and is governed by the TV Without Frontiers Directive.


Read the full market research report

Posted: 24 February 2010

See more from Advertising in Spain

Expert Views    
How2Go Consultoría de Internacionalización   By How2Go Consultoría de Internacionalización
Hot Tips    
Trade Promotion and Advertising in Spain   By U.S. Commercial Service Poland
Latest News    
Are you ambitious !   By Cathline Evans , Consultant