Samsung’s latest ad for the US market takes potshots at Blackberry & iPhone; this time with an aim to position Samsung S3 and Note as the ‘next big thing for business’. The enterprise market is obviously a lucrative one and has several check posts to get past: the IT guys, the CEO/CFO, the end users themselves each with a different ‘need’ or concern. There is a lot of ‘demonstration’ required before the enterprise market adopts a platform. The ‘demo’ should address the various needs (security, ease of set up, use, mass-scale adoption etc.) visibly before being considered – pretty much like desktop OS. So most addressing this enterprise market ‘demo’ what they can do. Which is exactly what Samsung has done in this ad – showcasing security, multi-tasking, big screen, input devices etc. But I didn’t find it enjoyable to watch and trying too hard to be cool…trying too hard to belong to the exclusive club, as it where.
Some see this combative strategy of Samsung (taking on the iPhone in TV ads and print) similar to Apple’s ‘Mac vs PC’ campaign and cry foul of Apple bias (as in ‘when Apple does it its fine, but when others do, its not’). I beg to differ. The broad objective of both the campaigns is the same: create dissonance among key competition users. But what makes the difference is the execution. In the ‘Mac vs PC’ ads, the Windows user was not made fun of directly. The features he got (or did not) in the PC were made fun of. Hence the joke was on the PC user indirectly, by reference. Second, the protagonists were ‘caricatures’ not real people. That makes a difference – it softens the blow and makes the ads endearing, likeable (especially the Christmas-edition Mac vs PC ads). Third, the execution was a lot more charming, classy and subtle in the Mac Vs. PC ads instead of being in-your-face aggressive. Fourth, there was focus in the Apple campaign – each ad was about one single feature which made Mac better. ‘No bloatware vs. Bloatware’ for example. And that feature was dramatised often with exaggerated humour, as a strength in a Mac or as a weakness in a PC. And most importantly, the subtlety allowed for some ‘fill in the blanks’ to happen in the consumers mind, the classic ‘Stimulus vs Response’ way. Apple did not directly spell out that ‘You are an idiot if you use a PC’ in so many words. It evoked a response in the consumer’s mind that ‘hey I may be losing out if I don’t check out a Mac’ or similar such through the creative stimulus. To that extent, it has an effect on the PC users. The Samsung anti-iPhone ads makes the current users of Samsung feel good about their choice and leaves a majority of iPhone users unaffected.
Also, I find the Samsung ads, especially the enterprise one trying too hard – its a lot of unfunny dialogue motor mouthing away for 90-seconds. It is ‘saying’ a lot of things in a manner that puts down other people. And when the jokes get personal, it send the wrong subliminal message about the brand. Not to mention the obvious, over the top trappings of ‘hey look, I am cool’ and ‘please consider me seriously, I also belong to your club’. And I wonder if current loyal BB and iPhone users in offices really feel bad about their brand choice due any particular feature lacking or causing problems in their devices. Trying too hard to impress or belong to a club makes you a wannabe, not the real deal.