Sometimes I wonder if the world has gone mad. I think it really silly that people spend as much on their car as a comfortable home would cost. I suspect the reason is that I don’t understand overt consumerism. So the brands that keep the Richemont share price flying are just not for me. No Rolex, Ferrari or Gucci in my life.
And there are things about communication that leave me gobsmacked too. There are ways of communicating and spending money that, when you think about it, can’t really be justified, never mind quantified. Take Formula One, for instance. I personally use it as background noise if I want to catch 40 winks on a Sunday. I mean, really… round and round and round. Nothing ever happens unless there’s a prang, and enjoying that is frankly a bit ghoulish in my humble opinion.
But I digress. There are a lot of cars covered in logos. So guess the price of a logo in a non-prominent position on a car? Somewhere between R10 million and R30 million! Now test yourself. Can you remember any of the really small logos stuck on the side of the back aerofoil on any of the cars? Of course you can’t! I have to believe that’s
R30 million down the toilet!
It worries me on another level too. Is showing me a logo really going to convince me to re-evaluate the product or rush out and buy it? No matter how conducive the environment – and I understand the brand association story – I really have to question whether a logo says anything.
Of course there are marketers who have successfully hung their entire brand off a logo that encompasses all that the company stands for. Nike is a perfect example, but it’s the exception – the other 99% are the rule. Sure there are examples of “if it’s good enough for Ernie Els, it’s good enough for me!” So branded golfers make some sort of sense. Of course, I don’t play golf. I do still wonder at those avid amateur golfers spending thousands of bucks on ‘Ernie’s’ clubs but still playing crap golf, as if they were convinced that somehow the new clubs would improve their game… Well, that’s the wonder of marketing of today, I suppose.
Let’s also consider boxing. Very few of us aspire to be the next Floyd Mayweather. Not that there’s anything wrong with Mayweather: anyone who can earn $45 million for less than an hour’s work has to be admired. That is around $1million a minute! Hell! Mayweather in fact agrees with a lot of my personal sentiments and is not big into accepting sponsorships. He states, “A brand on my back doesn’t define my greatness.”
However, anyone can be tempted! So one can put one’s logo on Mayweather’s shorts. And he’s negotiable as to how much you’d have to fork out, though the price starts at “seven figures for 36 minutes”, he says. I would seriously love to do an exercise 24 hours later to establish just how many people could recall the brand. Never mind what percentage of them suddenly felt motivated to rush out and purchase!
Of course there has to be another side of the coin, the bit that I’m clearly missing. I know the massive multi-national companies that embrace even the smallest elements of sport sponsorship are auditing the return on investment, be it positive in a monetary or perceptual sense. I also know that the logo is the tip of the marketing iceberg and that along with the already massive outlay comes millions more to amplify, leverage and maximise the dollars and rands spent. But if I step back just for a second, I remain uncomfortable. Surely the world of communication has moved on. Aren’t there better ways out there? With all the surrounding activity and noise that one has to create, can you really tell which half worked?
I’m not doing a sell for traditional advertising here. I often look at an ad, regardless of the medium in which it appears, and find it pretty unconvincing. But to show me a logo, and hope I firstly note it, secondly care, and thirdly infer all the right things, seems like a massive stretch. But I’m open to offers if any media owner believes my shorts pose an opportunity…
This story was first published in the February 2014 issue of The Media magazine.