Samsung and its advertising digs at Apple

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So, Samsung has released yet another ad poking fun at the Apple fan boys. This time, the turn-by-turn navigation feature in the Samsung Galaxy S2 is the whip with which the Mac community is sought to be beaten. The earlier efforts were on similar lines [no pun intended] touting the bigger screen or some other feature as superior to the iPhone.

Lets see what the campaign has done. Nowadays, there’s nothing like a country-specific campaign. Even though these ads were meant for the US market these went went viral globally. So, Samsung achieved a global audience with this campaign. What else? If these were meant to make the current Samsung/Android community feel good about their brand choice [and by extension, about themselves] these are resounding successes. Comments on the online forum are indicative – the Apple fanoys have got their knickers in a twist and defending Apple. The Samsung/Android fans are enjoying the discomfort and having a laugh.

The ad itself is a bit corny. Which Apple fan is likely to say ‘We got Samsunged!’? If the attempt was to bring the term ‘Samsunged’ into parlance there could have been classier ways of doing it. But then we aren’t talking about Apple here [hehhe]. That aside, if Samsung believes that they are going to shake up the Apple community into questioning their brand choice they have got it wrong. Here are the reasons:

1. The Apple experience is not driven by individual features. Most of the tech world is driven exactly by that. In Android-dominant markets like India, that’s even more true. Most tech buyers compare a 5MP camera to an 8MP camera in a phone, worry about the storage capacity, expansion and all the technical features. I am not suggesting that they are not important. Apple believes that its about the end user experience and the features are just the means to achieving it. Again, I am not suggesting that Apple is superior on all counts – competing brands are superior on many counts. Apple also delivers products that don’t come with ‘essential’ features [lack of copy-paste in 1st generation iPhones, lack of camera flash in the earlier versions etc.]. But for the Apple fan these are immaterial. Call it being an iSheep or Walled Garden or whatever, to the core Apple fan the whole  is greater than the sum of its parts.

In markets like India, there is a new Apple fan – the newbies. They got introduced to Apple though the iPods. And then the iPhone [unlike the Mac-iPod-iPhone route]. Many of them are actually fence sitters. To such an audience these Samsung ads may hold appeal. But not to the die hard Mac fan.

2. Advertising is about providing the right stimulus to evoke the right reaction. In competitive advertising on’s got to be doubly careful with that rule – as an ‘attacking’ brand your tone of voice, the messaging is that much more critical. In the past, market leaders have welcomed new competitors with a ‘condescending’ tone of voice [let me show you who the leader is] – the ad created by BPL Mobile to welcome Hutch in Mumbai [1995] comes to mind. And then there are brands staking claim to a leadership stance or poking fun of the short comings of an image leader [like these Samsung ads]. When the claim is pure hyperbole is incredulous you get laughed at [a recent Micromox ad which claimed that they were a cheaper iPhone 4S].

In Samsung’s case they do come in from a position of strength. They are volume leaders, revered by many, have an impressive product in Samsung s2. So they are best placed to call ‘Apple’s bluff’ if they chose to. US may be the right market to do this as the Samsung halo is relatively new there and Apple is a very strong brand. But will it make the iPhone user feel cheated? And consider switching to Samsung? I have my doubts. Or should I say iDoubt?

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