When Apple started running the anti-Vista commercial (above) mocking Microsoft for spending $300 million on Vista’s own ad campaign instead of on fixing its problems, I called it hypocritical:
Apple’s advertising budget is also pretty massive. I mean, I see more Apple commercials on TV than ads for Barack Obama. Apple is on track to spend more than $3.5 billion on SG&A (selling, general, and administrative expenses) for its fiscal year that ended September 30. How much of that was spent on advertising? I don’t know, but 10 percent doesn’t seem unreasonable.
It turns out that I underestimated Apple’s advertising budget. Lindsay Blakely at Bnet (a former Business 2.0 reporter) found the actual numbers in a subsequent SEC filing. In its 2008 fiscal year that just ended last September, Apple spent a whopping $486 million on advertising. (In fiscal year 2007, it spent $467 million, and in fiscal year 2006 it spent $338 million).
Half a billion dollars on marketing. No wonder I think Apple products are so great.
Update: Microsoft spends more on advertising across all of its combined businesses than Apple does, but its Windows business is what competes most directly with Apple. Microsoft’s total advertising budget across all of its businesses, including Windows, Office, Xbox, and all the enterprise stuff, was the following (from the 10K): “Advertising expense was $1.2 billion, $1.3 billion, and $1.2 billion in fiscal years 2008, 2007, and 2006, respectively.”
Microsoft’s fiscal year ends in June, so these numbers do not reflect the $300 million Vista campaign. But that would have eaten up 25 percent of Microsoft’s entire ad budget for any of the previous three years.