In the war to supplant Apple as America’s No. 1 smartphone seller, Samsung has unleashed an all-out advertising blitz to the tune of a $US14 billion annual marketing budget.
According to a story published yesterday by The Wall Street Journal, Samsung spent $US20 million of that war chest Sunday night during the Academy Awards, an evening that was a perfect example of the Korean giant’s overall strategy.
In the post-Jobs era, Samsung has continually pushed two main ideas: that it has surpassed Apple as mobile technology’s foremost innovator, and that the superior functionality of its products will be obvious to Apple customers the moment they decide to give Samsung a try. So far, these ideas have yet to take hold, with Apple recently widening its U.S. smartphone market share to 42% compared with Samsung’s 26%.
Samsung’s vision was articulated most clearly Sunday night during a new ad from the agency 72andSunny titled “You Need To See This.” In it, Samsung product owners couldn’t help showing their friends the video quality on their mobile phones (whose screens Samsung has pointed out are larger than Apple’s), the buzzing of their hip, new smartwatches (a product Apple doesn’t make), and the things they drew with Samsung’s stylus feature (you get the point).
The “You Need To See This” tagline also nudges Samsung customers to engage in the sort of word-of-mouth advertising that is at the very core of the company’s U.S. marketing strategy, one that hinges on the idea that people are most likely to try Samsung products if they see them being used by their friends and the celebrities they admire.
As such, the brand has worked tirelessly to put its products in the hands of influencers like LeBron James and Jay Z, even going so far as to create a “White Glove” program through which a Samsung representative personally gives an influencer a free phone and teaches him or her how to use it.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Samsung paid extra money to have its products used during the Oscars ceremony in hopes that the shine of Hollywood’s elite would further establish Samsung as the phone of choice for the glamorous and upwardly mobile.
The purchase wound up producing the enduring image of the 86th Academy Awards: a “selfie” actor Bradley Cooper took using a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 of host Ellen DeGeneres and a slew of Hollywood A-listers. The photo became the most retweeted image in Twitter history, and spawned next-day media coverage from a variety of major publications.
It also underscored the hurdles remaining in Samsung’s path. For all of its products’ cool features and the exceedingly hip people who use them, many potential customers remain hesitant to ditch their iPhones, an easy-to-use product users have grown comfortable with over the years.
Just a day after showing off the Galaxy Note 3 to the world, DeGeneres was back to tweeting from her iPhone.
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