Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. BMW and Audi. Sometimes it’s just difficult to name a rival without bringing the other into the equation. There are some rivalries which just refuse to die down – be it between two athletes, two political parties or two heavyweight corporations. Take the case of Apple and Samsung. Two companies which have been at loggerheads in the market, in the courts and, even in marketing campaigns. In the last 24 hours, Samsung has managed to create a stir with its latest TV commercial taking a potshot at Apple’s latest offering iPhone X. Words like “mock”, “brutal”, “savage”, “takedown” have been mentioned in context with the ad. For those who haven’t seen the ad, here’s the link.
This isn’t the first time that Samsung has adopted this strategy. Whether it has worked or not – it hasn’t mostly as Apple has continued to dominate the numbers when it comes to sales of flagship devices – is a different matter. As one of the most celebrated advertising gurus of all-time, David Ogilvy once famously said, “In the world of modern business, it’s useless to be creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create.”
What such ads do is that it brings the fanboys to the fore. Apple fanboys come out in support and defend the brand till the cows come home whereas Samsung – well not exactly Samsung – but Android fanboys enjoy the digs taken at its rival. For Apple fans, the joy of using the iPhone is unparalleled – look at the hysteria iPhone X has generated if you don’t believe us — and whether such digs and ads genuinely convert them to the “other side” can’t be quantified. What it successfully, however, manages to do is make Samsung users feel good about their smartphones. Somehow, Samsung seems genuinely upset or obsessed with the idea of people queuing up outside Apple stores to buy an iPhone as it’s evident through its ads. Most ads – including the recent one – starts and focuses on the queues.
Samsung first started taking on Apple through TV ads with its Galaxy S2 smartphone.
The ad is about people queuing up for hours and wondering whether the iPhone has 4G and how it “still looks the same”. They spot a man and woman outside the queue using a bigger phone. They are then told how the “other phone” which is a Samsung Galaxy SII and has a bigger screen and iPhone. Josh Berner who plays Nelson “Big Head” Bighetti on the popular TV series Silicon Valley chips in with a “Is this what adultery feels like?” comment. The ad – perhaps the most innovative of the digs – is all about telling what the Samsung SII could do which the iPhone couldn’t.
A year later, for the Galaxy S3, Samsung was back with another “waiting in line” ad.
The ad shows how people are standing in queues waiting for the iPhone and a few others – including “Big Head” who’s a convert now by the way – tell them how they’re holding a spot for friends/family. The people waiting are genuinely curious how the “holders” aren’t queuing up for the latest iPhone. And then we see how the Galaxy S3 does far more than the iPhone. The message didn’t wait for a phone when you could easily get a better phone without standing in queues.
With the Samsung Galaxy S4, the chaebol was back at taking another dig at Apple’s lines. With S4, the ad was about how the company doesn’t want people to stand “in line” and would rather get customers to buy online.
To be fair to Samsung with S4, it did drop the “line” dig with another ad which was set at a graduation party. The ad was about how S4 could control a TV, click better images and other functions.
In 2012, for its Galaxy Note smartphone once again the focus was on the “line”. The ad shows the features of the phone to the people standing in line for an inferior phone. What Samsung does is that it not only attempts to ridicule Apple but also makes fun of Apple fans and customers. It is a theme that is evident in most of Samsung ads.
The Note 4 ads in 2014 were again a dig at the Apple fanboys and how the Note 4 had features like multiple windows, fast charging, bigger battery – basically everything the iPhone couldn’t do – with the tagline “Note the Difference”. This series of ads showcase the things missing in iPhone which Samsung has had for years and had improved with Note 4.