How Samsung came up with iPhone-mocking ads

Samsung ad (iPhone 5 launch 001)

When it comes to Samsung’s Galaxy devices and competition with Apple, you could say its advertising approach is overly abrasive.

It doesn’t shy away from likening Apple fans to iSheep, poking fun of those who’d wait in line for an iPhone and targeting the latest iPhone 5 in print, on Facebook and Super Bowl.

The South Korean firm buys expensive ad slots to spoof Apple on prime time TV, with a simple goal: isolate Apple fans from the ‘others’ by painting them as brainwashed drones who happily swallow whatever Apple happens to shovel down their throat.

As far as general public is concerned, Samsung’s negative campaign has put it on par with Apple as people started talking more about its products. If you ever wondered how they came up with the risky iPhone-mocking idea in the first place, here’s your answer…

Michal Lev-Ram did an interesting piece for Fortune title “Samsung’s road to global domination”.

The write-up analyzes Samsung’s market position relative to its rivals and shares an anecdote of how Samsung’s ad agency 72andSunny came up with the now famous commercial that bashes iPhone line sitters.

On a mid-September morning, Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook stepped onto a stage in San Francisco to unveil the iPhone 5. Several hundred miles away, in a Wolfgang Puck restaurant in Los Angeles, a group of marketing executives from Samsung Electronics followed real-time reactions to Cook’s remarks.

They huddled around tables mounted with laptops and TV screens, carefully tracking each new feature and monitoring the gush of online comments on the new device via blogs and social media sites. As the data flowed in, writers from the company’s advertising agency, who were also camped out in the restaurant turned war room, scrambled to craft a response.

They moved at breakneck pace because the response was fully conceptualized in a matter of hours.

Two hours later, when Cook stepped off the stage, the Samsung group was already drafting a series of print, digital, and TV ads. The following week – as the iPhone 5 went on sale– the company aired a TV ad mocking Apple “fanboys” queuing up for the new phone. (“The headphone jack is going to be on the bottom!”)

The 90-second commercial went on to become the most popular tech ad of 2012, garnering more than 70 million views online. More important, in the weeks following the launch of Apple’s iPhone 5, Samsung sold a record-breaking number of its own signature smartphone, the Galaxy S III.

Of course, Samsung knew from the onset that mocking Apple publicly was the best way to position itself as Apple’s chief rival and set the tongues wagging.

Todd Pendleton, marketing chief of Samsung’s U.S.-based mobile division:

We knew this was going to be a big moment in time, when consumers are really paying attention. We wanted to take that opportunity and all that energy and make it Samsung’s moment.

The way I see this, Apple marketing’s key concern about Samsung should be the fact that the Galaxy maker outspends everyone on advertising, including Apple.

Little wonder Samsung’s anti-Apple ads have become impossible to avoid.

I mean, they’ve been amping up its anti-Apple advertising ever since.

Unfortunately, some surveys indicate Samsung’s aggressive advertising strategy is paying off. Worse, the Samsung brand is becoming more sticky.

Their hostile tactics could (and probably will) backfire in the long run. But for now, Samsung commercials tap a rising outpouring of hate by Apple critics who bash Apple like pros.

Does any of this make any sense to you?

And do you as a fan of Apple feel offended seeing these childish ads?