Chess imagery frequently appears in advertising. I think the reason is clear, chess is seen as sexy, sophisticated, and intellectual. By extension, at least in advertising, chess players are seen as smart, cosmopolitan and affluent. Which makes them an ideal target audience for all kinds of luxury goods. After all, who wouldn't want to be smart, cosmopolitan, and affluent?
Financial institutions and consulting firms are particularly prone to using chess imagery in their advertising. I'm sure you've all seen "Make the right move" etc. kind of campaigns.
Though it is a lamentable fact that most companies that use chess imagery in their advertising do not spend any money on sponsoring chess events.
However, from time to time I come across some clever advertising, such as these billboards in California:
I think BMW's response to the AUDI ad was pretty awesome. We even discussed this example in one of my marketing classes in business school.
AUDI's response to the BMW ad however was pretty lame:
If you don't want to play chess, you shouldn't be the one who starts using chess vocabulary in your advertising...
The following is not an actual ad, but a nice way how Mercedes-Benz could have joined in: