Anglo-Dutch consumer goods conglomerate Unilever yesterday [Sunday] said it had signed the biggest airtime advertising deal in UK television history.

The deal with Carlton Communications runs for four years and is costing the group £320m (US$465.6m) to advertise a range of its products, which include household care, hygiene and food lines such as tea, ice cream, mayonnaise and margarine.

The group doubtless benefited from a TV advertising slump, giving it more leverage to negotiate a discount, especially for such a long-term deal, guaranteeing the broadcasting company steady income over several years.

“It gives us a good deal for the money,” Unilever spokesman Trevor Gorin said of the contract, adding that it offered “a considerable saving.” He declined to comment on specifics.

Unilever is the UK’s top advertiser and spends more than £120m a year on leading brands such as Flora margarine, Persil washing powder and Lynx deodorant, reported Reuters.