We've written before about the comparative merits of Microsoft's and Apple's specific ad campaigns (the above link, for example, concerns the ill-fated "Mojave Experiment" - remember that one?). Today, though, we're focusing not on the campaigns themselves but on how much each company is spending on advertising. The answer is surprising, and instructive.
No, Apple is not outspending Microsoft: that would be insane. Apple reported $32.5 billion in 2008 revenue; Microsoft's 2008 figure was $60.4 billion. And indeed, according to this New York Times article, the $191 million Microsoft spent on advertising in the first three-fourths of 2008 made it tops in the technology sector, with Apple coming in second at a much-lower $133 million.
But still, and as is so often the case, the story is Apple.
As the Times notes, Apple is not remotely one of the technology industry's largest players. Forget Microsoft; I.B.M., just for example, had 2008 revenue that topped $100 billion. But Apple is the second-largest advertiser, and its ad budget is only growing: it maintained that it increased its ad spending in 2008's final quarter over the same period in 2007.
The result of the 2008 spending blitz? Apple gained another two points in the personal computer market, bringing its share to 10%. Of course, those two points almost by definition come out of PCs that run a Microsoft operating system.
The Times article of course discusses the companies' competing campaigns, as well as Microsoft's well-documented troubles with its Vista OS (whose replacement, Windows 7, won't be available for six more months if Microsoft's extremely lucky).
But the point we wish to take away from this is the same point we took away from the news that Denny's bought its first Super Bowl spot ever (incidentally, did you catch it? It's here, and it's hilarious). Namely, that advertising and aggressive marketing isn't best for the top dogs operating in fat times; it's best for the up-and-comers looking to steal away some market share during lean days. It is for the small, right now, in the recession, to seriously consider upping marketing budgets. It may work for Denny's; it's certainly working for Apple; and it could work for you, too.
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