Advertising in the computing world

by Francois Joseph de Kermadec

While looking at an advertisement for a large computer manufacturer yesterday on my way to lunch, something struck me: I had not seen the logo at the bottom of the poster, barely had a chance to glance at the picture and yet my mind was already thinking "What has Panasonic came up with this time?"…

Was it a usual location for a Panasonic ad? Nope… A typically recognizable Panasonic device? Well, maybe for their fans but I had certainly never heard of that product… So, how come I could immediately spot that ad as a Panasonic ad?

A bit of research showed me that I actually lucked out that one time… My skills do not (yet?) go that far and I easily mix LG, Panasonic and the token NEC ad. However, I can almost always tell when I see an ad for an asian manufacturer — at least for those we see in Paris.

It seems that these companies love product shots. It is always a camera, a computer, a camcorder, at the center of the frame with, in the background, a barely recognizable person (or a very stereotypical one) that holds the product. European and American manufacturers on the other hand seem to sell the person more than the product — iPod ads always feature some cute looking guy or gal who happens to listen to an iPod, not an iPod that is being listened to by a person.

Note that I am not criticizing either style here. Both are legitimate, both can be beautiful and both can effectively sell a product. It is however interesting that, despite companies investing billions in marketing research every year to find out what appeals most to the «international» audiences and what, country-by-country, people are more responsive to, that one big divide stays… Actually, the fact that two groups with equal researching power can consider their own, radically different style to be the best one makes you wonder whether people do look at the ads they are presented with…

Unless… Unless these two groups of companies appeal to different demographics? That seems unlikely given that both target the low-end and the high-end markets, in similar fashion, and that their in-store campaigns are otherwise very similar…

Another question to dig in the fascinating world of computer retail…


2005-06-02 12:56:31
monopoly on your attention
I think that in some cases companies themselves can set the trends. Say Company A develops a product hitherto unknown to the target demographic and chooses to advertise it predominantly based on its features.

Having no competition in its niche, its advertising style quickly becomes synonymous with the product experience.

As is so often the case, Company B, looking to cash in on the success of its rival, takes the coattails route and mimics the advertising style.

Before long, it becomes the de facto standard for advertising the product and others like it, to the detriment of other approaches, almost regardless of how ill-conceived the original concept was to begin with.

I wonder how many so-called "regular" consumers are aware of the benefits/disadvantages of various Intel processors, for example. Nearly every non-Apple computer ad I see trumpets "Intel Inside", although that metric by itself is almost useless since it's the same four-tone jingle at the end of their competitors' products.

I may be reading too much into it, but it almost seems as though they're afraid to not mention it in nearly the same exact fashion.

Standard disclaimer applies; I may be 100% totally wrong, so please rely completely on this information when making mission-critical decisions while operating heavy machinery.

2005-06-02 12:58:14
monopoly on your attention

Thanks for taking the time to write and to share these very interesting comments!