Samsung #Galaxy11: can cool quotient be bought?

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As advertising ideas go, this is jaw-droppingly big. Imagine virtually all of  today’s big football stars coming together in an ad. The premise is that our planet has been threatened, and one game of football will decide our fate. So it takes a ‘super’ team to beat the aliens. This is the kind of project every ad man dreams of being involved in – big bold idea, guaranteed large scale production, a global audience and very importantly, a mega ‘do-not-worry-about-the-costs’ budget. Samsung has unveiled (after few weeks of teasing) the Galaxy 11 campaign.

Agency: R/GA and Cheil Worldwide

Galaxy 11

Obviously, the biggest draw of this campaign is the presence of famous football stars. The advantage: football generates passionate, fanatical following among its fans and hence is sure to garner attention globally (except outside the US). Getting the Galaxy 11 ‘players’ to actively participate in promoting the campaign through tweets & Facebook posts will also give the campaign a big push. The video is likely to go viral and there is enough content in the campaign (individual cut aways of the stars) which is share worthy and likely to appeal to football fans across the globe.

The larger issue: why is Samsung doing this? There is an obvious, in-your-face link to the products (Note, Tab, Gear etc.) in the ad and they are featured prominently on the micro site too. Aside from sales, the larger payoff expected out of such campaigns is the cool quotient that is likely to rub off to the brand thanks to the cool campaign idea, the platform (football) and the celebrities. In my view, the over-the-top splurge on marketing & advertising indicates that the brand seeks to buy its way into the coolness hall of fame. Yes, Samsung is already a much sought after brand and enjoys a strong equity among many. It’s products, especially the Galaxy series get many to gadget lovers (especially in Asia) to drool.I believe that this is one more (among several) attempts to imbue the brand with a coolness quotient that not just rivals Apple’s iPhone but beats it. That is the unsaid objective.

Samsung’s  marketing & advertising budget is supposedly at $14 billion and it is expected to have spent $4.3 billion on advertising alone last year. That’s a lot of money to spend (or blow). To me it appears to manifest in a ‘lets-do-everything’ approach. So everything from a TV spot to outdoor to activation is attempted. And there is no consistency or single-minded messaging even for the same brand across markets. The residual imagery of Note 3 + Gear is so different in these two visuals for example.

Key visual of Samsung Note 3 + Gear in India.
Key visual of Samsung Note 3 + Gear in India.
Print ad from Details Magazine, USA
Print ad from Details Magazine, USA

The Galaxy 11 campaign is a manifestation of the company:

“Our product innovation and marketing strategy have made Samsung the world’s most preferred smartphone brand,” J.K. Shin, who also heads the group’s mobile business, told investors recently. “Now we’ll move from the most preferred brand to become one of the world’s leading aspirational brands.”

I agree with those who believe that all this splurging does not bring bang-for-the buck for the brand. To me it appears that the objective of the splurge is to ‘out-cool’ the cool quotient of Apple and out-innovate it too. So in a way it is very inward looking. It is still seeking acceptance from a certain segment of the market: the high end consumer who loves Apple’s products and the influential opinion leaders on the web & social media. And the obvious ‘marketing lipstick’ backfires when the very stars who’ve signed up for the Galaxy11 promotion, send tweets about the campaign on their iPhone. See here and here. The celebrity endorsement doesn’t look natural – it obviously appears that they don’t believe in what they are doing and only doing it for the money. Sure that is the problem faced by all celebrity endorsements but mismatch is out in the open in the case of Samsung.

So Galaxy 11 will get global attention and be loved by football fans and Samsung fans alike. But is the whole thing about Samsung buying its way into coolness? Can cool quotient be bought? Comment in.

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    • I disagree, Sir. I think such mega sponsorships and buying visibility at any cost cues a certain desperation from the brand. They want to belong to the ‘cool brands’ club. No harm in it but there is a fine line between doing something that evokes a reaction ‘Hey, that’s cool’ and being desperate to seek attention. Celebrities tweeting from a rival brand’s phone (the benchmark) is a dead giveaway of this attitude.

  1. Certainly not. Samsung has to earn the coolness quotient. And that comes from building great products that change the people’s perception about your company. At the end of the day, people only remember your products based on the great experience they get. Advertising can only help in reaching out to people to try your products.

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