When the video went live early this month, social media went wild, YouTube lit up. “Growing Up,” Samsung’s ad mocking rival iPhone deficiencies, is a big hit.
In it, we see a young iPhone owner become increasingly forlorn as, despite repeatedly buying Apple’s latest handset, he sees it quickly run out of storage, get killed by water damage and underperform Samsung Galaxy features like handwriting recognition.
In the final scene, finally undone by having to insert a dongle just to use his headphones, our hero – now older, wiser – switches to a Galaxy note device.
By time of writing, “Growing Up” had clocked some 10.7 million views in just three days on YouTube alone. But it is just the latest in a long-running campaign in which Samsung Mobile USA aims to poke fun at Apple.
Apple has always existed in something of a reality distortion field. iPhone X may have the “most innovative screen ever tested” but, starting at £999, it is also “the most breakable”. Samsung’s annual video campaign aims to tackle a thorny challenge – how do you gain market cut-through when it seems the whole world is caught up in the bubble?
In Samsung’s case, that means calling out its product advantages over Apple head-on, and making parts of that distortion field seem perverse and undesirable – in other words, by suggesting that consumers who stop following the herd will achieve a better outcome.
This approach yields multiple wins – not only is it cooler these days to swim in a different direction from the crowd, doing so can give you a product with flat-out better features.
We will leave that last conclusion to you, the reader. But what is impressive is the way in which Samsung Mobile USA has stuck to these guns over the course of many years. So, by means of an advertising history lesson, we present all of the times in which David took on Goliath…
2011, Galaxy S2
Samsung’s first attempt at mocking Apple fans was unfocused, calling out deficient battery, absent 4G, a smaller screen and aesthetics all at the same time. But “The Next Big Thing” made its point, deftly swiping at those who wait hours in line.
2012, Galaxy S3
Marketing its new device, Samsung flaunts larger screen size, a brighter screen and touch-to-share features in the face of queuing Apple fans. Not only that but the ad even suggests Samsung fans may be kinder and more selfless, one holding a friend’s place in the same line.
2013, Galaxy S4
Back to the scattershot, this extended spot introduces a key new put-down in a generational divide – suggesting iPhones are for fuddy-duddy parents. That is a kick in the teeth to Apple, but it goes with the territory of popularity.
2014, Galaxy Note 4
For its larger device, Samsung turned its attention to Apple’s Genius Bar employees, picturing them as sycophantic drones who ultimately go crazy at what they see as comparative product deficiencies. A series of spots focused on fast charging, multi-tasking and handwriting input.
2015, Galaxy S5
In “Wall Huggers”, Samsung turns its attention back to a single feature – battery life. At the time, iPhone’s power prospects had come under fire. Samsung once again ridiculed those who suffer with poor battery, tantalising them with a better life.
2016, Galaxy S6
The restriction of tethering resurfaced a year later when Samsung introduced wireless charging. Apple continues to face justifiable criticism for anything to do with ports and jacks. This was a worthy attempt to liberate consumers from the tyranny of tangles.
It takes a brave company to take on the world’s dominant phone maker, the planet’s richest company, on the turf it can call its own.
But Samsung has long introduced innovative features to its handsets before rivals including Apple. If a brand has a genuine advantage, it should be confident to shout about it.
Not all of Samsung’s efforts have stuck. Many of their software efforts are stuffed with bloatware, and don’t even talk about those exploding Note 7s.
But every company is open to criticism. When you feel you have significant enough product differentiators, you should absolutely go to town.
Words – Robert Andrews