Over the last few months I have been discovering and analysing various adverts, and looking at the strategies employed by the ad agencies tasked with creating them. This series of articles has seen me review campaigns for Zappos and Babies Ice Cream, and this week it’s the turn of Samsung.
In 2015, the mobile phone giant commissioned ad agency 72 and Sunny to come up with an advert that truly showcased its ethos and mission. The result of this collaboration was an unbelievably stylish 1 min 30 sec advert which has had over 32 million YouTube views. I can only assume that Samsung were pretty happy with it.
Originally a trading company specialising in local groceries and noodles, Samsung has branched out into numerous fields, although its biggest subsidiary, bar far, is Samsung Electronics, which is one of the world’s largest tech companies. The advert below tells the story of the brand, from its very first phone, through to its latest innovations, including virtual reality goggles. If you haven’t already seen it, check it out below, and be sure to stick around for my analysis.
Before delving more deeply into the mechanisms at play in this advert, it is important to note the first impression, and this ad certainly makes a good one. Right off the bat there is vibrant modern music, with the viewer’s attention immediately caught by the contrasting image of a present-day Samsung box containing an old Samsung phone. As more advanced versions jump out of the phone, the effectiveness of this ad’s theme becomes very apparent. Each element is seamlessly sewn into the next to create a skillfully produced and meticulously planned ad.
The unpacking concept
While receiving a phone used to be a rather uneventful experience, today it is very different, with stylish packaging and numerous accessories making it a truly exciting activity. Added to this are the countless YouTube videos which show bloggers unboxing various products (including, of course, Samsung phones).
Put simply, today’s environment makes the unpacking of a phone much more notable, and the 72 and Sunny ad agency have taken advantage of this. Throughout the advert, numerous Samsung products are unpacked, whether these be modern phones plucked from older versions, or record boxes opened up to reveal an MP3 phone lying within.
The power of contrast
The advert is full of comparisons, all incorporated into a slick, stylish production. These comparative devices constantly remind the viewer of the advances Samsung has made, and how quickly they have happened. At the start of the ad, a man can be seen holding one of the first Samsung phones in his hand, while just a minute later viewers see the first 3G call being made (on a modern Samsung) from none other than Everest.
The contrast between old and new is present throughout, not only with regards the products, but also the clothes being worn by various actors who appear in the video. All of this is designed to highlight the speed with which Samsung has gone about advancing its products, and as a result consumers see Samsung as superior to other companies. Indeed, emphasising this contrast can only lead to both existing and potential customers having an even better perception of Samsung.
All about firsts and superlatives
The world’s first watch phone, the world’s smallest TV phone, the first ever 3G call from Everest, and the first ever dual edge display.
All of these feats, so effectively highlighted in the advert, are key to the Samsung image of creating rather than following, and innovating rather than copying. The constant repetition of the phrase ‘world’s first’ is also extremely effective. Again this is a comparative device, looking to differentiate Samsung from its competitors and essentially say ‘we are better than our rivals because they couldn’t come up with this before us’.
The music for this ad is provided by Royal Blood, whose song Figure It Out delivers the ideal modern indie feel, as well as the perfect lyrics. Every verse and chorus ends with the lyrics ‘trying to figure it out’, thus reflecting Samsung’s drive and ambition to always be figuring out the next step and how to push the boundaries. Although the Samsung people have obviously asked for a story of the brand’s history, it is also clear that they have placed emphasis on communicating the modern, innovative image of the company.
In fact, the musical element of the ad is at the centre of one of its most stylish and quirky segments. After we see the first 3G call being made from Everest, the phone falls through the snow and ice, plunging into freezing water. At this point, the music is muffled, as if we were under the water ourselves.
After its brief swim, the phone is plucked out of the water by a man in a present-day kitchen, who has obviously dropped it in the sink. The music returns to normal volume and this extremely effective part of the ad comes to a conclusion. What a devilishly stylish way in which to demonstrate the robustness of a phone.
Telling a story
Many many brands use the power of storytelling to communicate their ethos, with Jack Daniels jumping out as a prime example. Most JD adverts talk about the man himself, while reference is always made to the years of history that go along with the brand. This helps the readers to become familiar with the brand, and is a testament to the constant work and care that goes into the product, and which has done for many years.
The Samsung ad above certainly embraces the power of storytelling. Viewers are not just seeing the product as it is today, they are seeing the years of work that have gone into creating it. They are seeing the tired looks on the faces of engineers as they try to come up with the first watch phone, they are seeing the recent incredible efforts of Kenton Cool who, thanks to Samsung, was able to make the first 3G call from Everest, and they are seeing the ongoing effort Samsung is making to create virtual reality technology. Simply put, the brand has history, and viewers are being told about it; 32 million YouTube hits suggests they are intrigued.
General slickness of the production
Samsung is a very cool company, with a modern image that has taken years to construct. It comes as no surprise then that – as noted above – coolness runs through every aspect of this ad. Yes, all of the individual marketing elements are essential, and very effective, but the way in which each of these elements is weaved together really gives the advert a stunning glossy finish.
The unpacking concept (discussed above), is the perfect excuse to embrace visual artistry. Take your pick; an old-school TV concealing a Samsung TV phone, a record box containing an MP3 phone, or a box-like shape drawn using the Galaxy Note pen, which then transforms into Everest.
In keeping with the chronological nature of the advert, it ends with a young man trying on Samsung’s latest innovation (the virtual reality gear VR headset) and using it to gaze into virtual space. Against a black starry sky, the viewer is hit with the line ‘who knows where progress will take us’. The concept of space is used very effectively here. Despite huge advances, space exploration is still in its infancy, and the potential for discoveries in the future is huge. It seems as though the 72 and Sunny team wanted to make a direct comparison between Samsung’s endeavours and space exploration; not only is so much left to be done, but the scale of the ambition is as big as it gets. I believe that what Samsung wants to say here is that, given its thirst for progress – a theme that runs throughout the advert – incredible future advances are possible. Maybe even advances that are on par with aerospace innovations?
In sum, while there are many elements going on in this advert, one of the most important things is how these elements are all brought together to produce an extremely cool, well-oiled piece of marketing. Yes, it is vital to have a great product, but when your main rival is Apple, you better also come to the table with some real cool.