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In Tech Popularity Often Means Quality

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".

Ollie Williams

May 8, 2011, 8:02 pm

I assume the title of this article is meant to read 'lady Gaga' as opposed to 'lada Gaga'. That is unless you lot have a secret love affair going on with old soviet-bloc automobiles.


May 9, 2011, 8:49 pm

Good spot :) I wonder as well, if TR could bump the news section down slightly on the front page, if only so you can show how many comments there are for these features (like for product reviews and news items).


May 10, 2011, 7:02 am

Title is meant to read: 'Why It Is Smart For Tech to Play Dumb' - it seems there is a problem with feature titles showing up correctly, but fingers crossed it is now fixed.
@Pbryanw - yes that is a good spot. We'll leave it up to the developers to decide. It seems Features moves around the page at present, so once this settles down it should be easier to fix layout.

Daniel Gerson

May 12, 2011, 1:12 pm

All good points in the article. But I think we need to get a sense of 'cause and effect'. This article is really about advertising, and not really about Tech.

Big companies like HTC have started advertising more, and it's presumed that this is because 'they have to do with when they get big'. But where is the scientific evidence to suggest that this true, not simply because this is what other big companies do?

Here's a more likely scenario, than the 'Marketing actually works' argument: As a company grows, it has to hire more and more people, and delegate company functions out to departments out of necessity because Jack of all trades individuals don't scale. As this process happens it starts to lose it's original corporate culture... simply because, for most, it is an uphill task to both hire thousands of new employees, AND guarantee that they are converted from their previous aggregated corporate culture. This is especially true, if the original shareholders are diluted.. and so incentives are gone.

What happens next is to look at the incentives of the new Head of Marketing. Is it in her incentive to ask for less money and people for her dept, because the scientific evidence is noisy that marketing actually works better than word of mouth? Or using that money to discount product price? NO! You do what everyone else does! It's easier to fear that you are wrong, than have the guts to take a stand! This will always be the case with most big companies!

The fact that you can find exceptions (like Google) in retaining corporate culture (by having industry controversial -outside the norm- hiring practises) doesn't negate the argument. Not many companies can retain practises like diverting 20% of their work week. (Example of corp cult, not marketing).

Returning to the article. One can be in favour of the trend of tech adoption and still disparage silly acts of marketing. I don't think you've made a good case of linking 'cause and effect', that these marketing acts HAVE ACTUALLY improved tech products or the industry.

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