Feb 21, 2014 — by: Mark Reschke
Categories: Competition, News

In Samsung’s never-ending effort to become the new, shiny Apple (what Samsung might self-describe themselves as being “what’s next”), their latest advertising campaign not only offends the very customers they are trying to convert (Apple customers), but also leaves the viewer with a low opinion of Samsung. This can’t be the branding Samsung is trying to imprint on the U.S. consumer.

Last year, amid disappointing sales of Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S4 smartphone, the Korean tech giant swiftly swapped out ad agencies, moving from Razorfish to RGA. Samsung works with a host of other agencies, but RGA is now the lead dog in charge of consumer advertising. Samsung’s previous ad campaigns showing iPhone users being out of touch — or standing in Apple store lines when the best smartphone was to be found under the Samsung brand — have been exchanged for a even deeper cutting, less tactful approach. The executive desperation at Samsung to meet overinflated sales targets can be felt within their latest ads.

Two of these ads have just been launched by Samsung, which unsurprizingly attack the iPhone and iPad Air. The lack of tact is evident, but the ads also unintentionally pay homage to Apple products.

Ad 1: Samsung Galaxy Note 3 – LeBron James

Ad 2: Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 – Multitasking, redefined

This ad clearly targets kids in love with LeBron James.  Love LeBron, love the Galaxy products, so the messaging goes. However, the ad is largely ineffective, and I'll have more on that in a moment. This ad parodies Apple’s pencil thin iPad Air reveal spot, and focuses on the fact the new Galaxy is thinner than the iPad Air, and has Samsung’s multitasking feature set. However, even larger problems loom with this tablet commercial vs the LeBron spot, but both leave the message of a desperate company.

Samsung’s Miscalculation

The problem with both ads is that Samsung continues their attempt to target the ever-shrinking, low information tech user. These users are often referred to in denigrating language as sheeple. Advertise to the sheeple and they will follow, since they will believe anything they are told — so the antiquated thinking goes.

Unfortunately for Samsung this is no longer the early 90’s and the teenagers and young adults they are targeting with these ads are amazingly tech savy. Mobile technology adopters of five years ago have accrued an amazing amount of tech knowledge. The result is there are very few sheeple to target with gimmick ads, and to the tens of millions of non-sheeple watching these spots, the ads ring amazingly hollow.

The first spot, pushing the Galaxy Note lays out a false premise from the very start, pinning a “phablet” product against a smartphone. Does Apple have a phablet sized mobile product? No. Thus Samsung attempts to exploit that fact, comparing Apples to Oranges (pun intended). The ad’s goal is to have would-be iPhone buyers purchase Samsung phablets, and then link the Samsung product to “cool” because they paid LeBron James millions to be a sponsor. But Samsung used 30 seconds to remind everyone the iPhone is the number one smartphone. This approach may translate into increase sales in Miami, but count every other NBA city — whose younger demographic don’t find LeBron James to be a rock-star, or a villan at best — and that ad has no home and no traction to delivering any value to Samsung.

The second spot evokes the pencil thin iPad in the viewers mind, but then pulls the veil off the Galaxy Tab as superior. Samsung playing the trump card as best they can. However, this ad fails the audience in many areas. Again, sheeple are simply hard to come by, and as the consumer researches or more likely hears from friends that the Samsung tablet is thinner than the iPad Air by less than a 20lbs sheet of paper, yet weighs over 3% more than the iPad Air, Samsung looks all the more foolish every time these people see the ad (and that means tens of millions of people). As for multi-tasking, whoever is going to buy a tablet to watch Pacific RIM in a 3" box, while trying to conduct sending an email, go for it, that’s a pretty small market.

The old adage is that there is truth in advertising, and that may very well be true, but unfortunately for Samsung, would-be sheeple find out about the truth far too quickly — a fact Samsung seems rather clueless about. Meanwhile, Apple's advertising has moved into culture, into world-wide lifestyles, showcasing how the company is truly is embracing humanity in a variety of ways that, like Apple products, just works.

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