How deep does this run? The best example I have seen
recently is PC Tools. The antivirus and software utilities company now
sponsors TDS Racing,
the Eurocup Mégane Trophy triple champions of World Series racing. How did it end up there?
"Ten years ago people might have questioned a PC software company sponsoring a race team, however today digital technology has expanded into mainstream culture, with the internet offering a truly global audience," explained PC Tools' Richard Clooke. "Competition for share of voice and brand recognition within the PC software industry is extremely intense. It’s vital that companies differentiate themselves."
Of course, this raises a bigger point. Surely companies
should be spending their money on making their products better, rather than
blowing it on advertising? Actually, not really. High profile advertising
actually places more pressure on companies to get it right. Unlike the movie industry,
where huge ad campaigns tend to guarantee box office success, tech companies
don't have that luxury. Cinemas put bums on seats and it is accepted by viewers
that what they end up watching might be rubbish. The risk is taken willingly.
By contrast gadgets we can take back.
If you spend a fortune advertising your product you can't afford to put yourself in a situation where you'll face millions of returns. I'm not saying that high profile advertising guarantees high quality products, but it is little coincidence that Maria Sharapova turned up at Motorola when the Razr was at its pomp then switched to Sony Ericsson when its Walkman handsets had their spell in the spotlight. You don't see much from either company right now.
Furthermore high profile branding makes money. If it didn't know no-one would do it. And more revenue means more money to spend on all areas, including R&D. So believe it or not, race cars, David Beckham and will.i.am not only drag technophobes into the 21st century, they can also be indirectly responsible for making gadgets better.
Of course there is a flipside to all this tech branding: it is driven as much by fear as progress. The problem for every tech company is as hardware and software matures there is increasingly little to choose between their products and that of their rivals.
It is somewhat of a generalisation, but in 2011 there is virtually no such thing as a bad TV, bad laptop or bad smartphone. The vast majority deliver the basics and to many people's eyes they will simply seem like variations on a theme, despite their huge variety of price tags. To the casual user a £400 phone like the HTC Desire S and current £99 budget champion the Orange San Francisco are much of a muchness. A large touchscreen phone is a large touchscreen phone. A flat TV is a flat TV. You read TrustedReviews because you know that isn't true, but for many most products can be deemed "good enough".