Pfizer boosted ad spend 12% for the first nine months of 2009 over the same period in 2008, even as ad spend for the sector remained static and spending across all sectors plummeted 14.7%, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Pfizer was the only pure-play pharmaceutical company among the top 10 advertisers, at No. 8 with $896.6 million in measured media spending for the January-to-September period. Johnson & Johnson, a perennial big spender with its strong consumer products business, was listed at No. 5 with $1 billion in ad spend – down 1.3% over the same period last year. Sprint Nextel was the only advertiser other than Pfizer to increase spending, having cut its marketing budget deeply in 2008.

TNS said some of Pfizer’s increased spending could be attributed to its acquisition of Wyeth, but that the bump was “primarily attributable to its own portfolio of prescription drugs, particularly Lipitor and Caduet.”

Spending for the pharmaceutical sector was up 0.6% to $3.4 billion for the nine-month period.

Across all categories, spending was down 15.3% for the third quarter of 2009, making it the sixth consecutive quarter of year-over-year declines, and a whopping 25.1% for network TV. However, magazine, newspaper and radio losses for the quarter “were less severe compared to the first half of the year,” said TNS.