One of the biggest rivalries in tech is between Samsung and Apple. The two companies account for nearly one third of the entire smartphone market as of 2016, with Samsung edging out Apple for first place. Even though Samsung has a bigger piece of the pie, one can’t help but wonder why they seem to spend almost three times more money on advertising than their competitor. A large part of that could be due to Apple’s commanding lead in premium smartphone sales over the Korean tech giant.
This was apparent back when I worked retail for Samsung as an Experience Consultant. The name of the game was how we could differentiate ourselves from Apple and prove our products superior. Everything was all about how we could do what they couldn’t in an effort to pull defectors over. We would go through role playing scenarios over and over again to practice our ‘techniques’ and all of our knowledge of phone specs predicated on knowing how they stacked up against the iPhone.
Ads from this time period showcase this well. A commercial for the Galaxy SIII highlights all of the Samsung phone’s features by comparing them directly against what the iPhone doesn’t have. It’s a carry over from a previous ad for the Galaxy SII, also showing people waiting in line. More on that in a minute.
Another commercial for the Galaxy S4 does… the exact same thing.
Let’s continue the trend! Here’s an ad for the Galaxy S5, once again presented as an Us vs. Them. Here’s another one showing the owners of iPhones as sad, stuck, and sorry as they are constantly charging their phones.
Here’s that ad for the Galaxy SII I mentioned above. Breaking it down, it shows various people waiting in line to buy the next iPhone only to see someone outside the line with ‘the next big thing’. Something that really sticks out to me about this ad and the succeeding one for the Galaxy SIII was that it shows a multitude of customers all waiting in line to buy their competitor’s phone, while there is seemingly no shortage of their device. There is a vast difference in demand presented here, and while it can be argued that Samsung was newer to the smartphone scene during this time, I can’t help but feel like it was a massive marketing misstep to highlight the popularity of a competitor’s phone while showing off the availability of theirs.
To Samsung’s credit, they are not the only companies to go after Apple and call it marketing. Microsoft Surface commercials have gone after competing Apple products since their inception, and Apple had their famous Mac vs. PC campaign in the early 2000’s.
Marketing always seems to be a competition, and while the Samsung brand and name has been established as the preeminent smartphone manufacturer, they weren’t always so powerful. Much of their history seems to be that of the new kid on the block, trying to upstage the popular kid by one-upping his every move.