Samsung Decided To Start Attacking Apple After Steve Jobs Died

Newly released internal emails reveal the moment when Samsung decided to shift its advertising to attack Apple and the iPhone.

It happened in October of 2011, right after Steve Jobs died. Two days after Jobs died, Samsung executive Michael Pennington sent the following email:

Pennington’s point was that after Jobs died, there was going to be a lot of positive press for Apple and Jobs. That would spill over to the iPhone. He thought Samsung needed to blunt the impact of all that positive press by pointing out why its phone was better than the iPhone.

Interestingly, until that point, Samsung was hesitant to slam Apple in advertising because Apple is a big customer for Samsung. Samsung executives were hoping that Google would pick up the slack and start attacking Apple.

After Jobs died, Samsung decided it was ready to go after Apple:

From there, Samsung started ramping up its head-to-head advertising with Apple. Ultimately, this led to the “Next Big Thing” ad campaign in 2012, which mocked people for standing in line to buy Apple products. Those ads were extremely effective. So effective, that Apple SVP of Marketing Phil Schiller told his ad agency it needed to do better work to compete with Samsung.

Advertising and marketing a big part of Samsung’s success. In a crowded field of Android phone makers, Samsung has managed to thrive. It’s the only Android phone maker that’s earning a profit. And it’s the number one phone seller in the world.

While Apple has tried in court to say that Samsung’s success is all thanks to copying the iPhone software’s look and feel, Samsung has tried to say its success is largely about marketing, and hardware.

Ironically, Samsung may not have felt compelled to push as hard into marketing against the iPhone if Jobs hadn’t died, and thus triggered a wave of positive press for Apple and the iPhone.

Here’s the full thread of emails from court, via the WSJ (PDF):

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