Samsung’s Ad Game was Surprisingly Strong in 2017

If there was a contest, we’d say Samsung won the advertising game for 2017. Whether you’re pro-Apple or pro-Android, their “Growing Up” commercial successfully displays their latest product while prodding at Apple’s flaws over the years, such as the iPhone’s notoriously poor battery life and their earlier models’ defect of running out of storage space for photos.

Consequently, from Samsung’s Note 7 issues of 2016, the company has revamped their marketing strategies and decided to play dirty by exploiting Apple. According to The Drum, thirty-five Note 7 users reported that their phones “exploded” while charging, resulting in an immediate sales hiatus. This site mentions how Pio Schunker, the head of Samsung’s marketing team, desired to change the company’s advertising routes in order to pick up the pieces post the Note 7 mishap: “Samsung had been in the midst of a rebrand of sorts when the crisis – which was ultimately blamed on battery problems – hit. He said that the company had been working to leave its stodgy image behind via ads that humanized the brand and connected with audiences on a global scale.” Indeed, “Growing Up” does just that. The commercial documents several decades of an iPhone user’s problems like a scrapbook until the user buys a Samsung phone, finally feeling as clever as his girlfriend who had one all along.

Apple is no stranger to using the flaws of another company as an advertising strategy. After all, who could forget the “Get a Mac” ad campaign from 2006? In case you did forget, these ads featured Justin Long as a personified Macbook discussing the positive affordances of a Mac vs. a PC (enacted by a man in much more formal clothing with a “less-than-cool” aura compared to Long). For example, in one ad, the PC person has a cold while the Mac person responds that he never gets sick, promoting the idea that Macbooks rarely contract computer viruses.

Meanwhile, Apple’s most recent ad for the iPad Pro, “What’s a Computer?” lacks Samsung’s “humanized” branding qualities. The ad, shot across imagistically captivating scenes following a woman traveling with an iPad pro and completing tasks on it along the way, ends with a mother asking her daughter, “Whatcha doing on your computer?” and the daughter responds with the disingenuous answer, “What’s a computer?” While the focus of the ad is on the multifaceted functions of the iPad and its portability, the “What’s a computer?” answer doesn’t feel like it landed as well as Samsung’s commercial. While Apple does not have to be catty back and point out android flaws to have a successful commercial, the Apple ad falls flat because it concludes on an odd note.

Additionally, Motorola recently decided to poke fun at Samsung’s latest ad, producing a commercial entitled, “The up-upgrade with the moto z2.” In this thirty-seven second commercial, a young man (who looks very much like the actor in “Growing Up”) comes home to show a video to his girlfriend on his android. The girlfriend opens up her moto z2 and projects her own video on the wall, one-upping her boyfriend’s device. While not explicitly calling out Samsung’s commercial, Motorola decided to create a commercial with a similar plotline while keeping the focus on their product rather than using Samsung’s tactic of flaunting Apple’s defects.

What do you think of these ad campaign strategies of showcasing the flaws of another company as the forefront of a commercial instead of just focusing the product? Comment with your opinions below.

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