Oct 13

Samsung’s crime against advertising

Bad enough that Samsung’s new Galaxy Gear smartwatch is being universally panned by reviewers.

Now the product’s launch commercial is getting the same treatment. Mostly because it’s a shameless copy of the very first iPhone commercial.

No argument here about the blatant nature of this rip-off. However, my problem is a more basic one:

The ad is crap.

Rule number one when you set out to copy someone else’s work: “Do it well.” In ignoring this rule, Samsung has set itself up for the double whammy — attacked for being unoriginal and creatively anemic.

Just compare the two commercials. The iPhone ad is perfectly simple. Each of its clips is quick and features the same “hello” word. You get it instantly.

The Samsung ad is a mess. Its creators seem to believe that if they turn a bunch of clips about watches into a commercial, it will have the same effect. It doesn’t.

Some of Samsung’s clips barely make sense. In the end, you’re left with a sloppy stew of disjointed snippets that say little.

Apple recognized that this type of message telegraphs its message best at 30 seconds. Samsung made their effort “doubly creative” as a 60-second spot. Unfortunately, it wears out its welcome in less than half that time.

Samsung also fails to understand the difference between their situation today and Apple’s situation back then.

Apple’s ad ran on the Oscars, so its cinematic references perfectly fit the media. It followed the product unveiling, but ran four months before iPhone went on sale. It was a teaser — the sole purpose of which was to create anticipation for the coming launch.

Samsung has already launched its product. If it were more skilled in copying, it would copy the ads that actually did the selling for iPhone. Those ads were aimed at a world that had never seen such a product before, featuring easy-to-digest demos.

I’m actually surprised at the low quality of this commercial. However you feel about Samsung or its products, its bigger ads this year (Super Bowl and Oscars) had a creative element and good production values.

This one feels like it was made without adult supervision.

In one way of looking at it, though, Samsung’s new ad is quite an accomplishment. It’s a copy of an Apple ad, selling a product that’s a copy of something Apple hasn’t even made yet.

Well done.

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  • 21tigermike

    Bravo. Stuff like this is exactly why I love this blog.

  • JC

    I have to say I disagree. I enjoyed it and I’d forgotten the first iPhone ad. I thought it was well executed but wasn’t sure about the tag line. My colleagues in an office full of creatives working on Apple kit, watched these spots and lapped them up, emailing them on. Something’s right if an ad creates awareness and gets people talking, I don’t remember the last Apple ad where that happened. Whether or not that product delivers and sales are made is a different matter entirely. To Joe punter Samsung made the first cool looking Smart Watch. Apple now have to deliver one that’s worth owning.

  • Frank Berzau

    Samsung makes many things, but not “the first cool looking Smart Watch”. This ugly, way-too-large, feature bloated piece of junk is useless.
    And no, I don’t see me taking phone calls on my watch. See incoming messages yes, calendar reminders yes, and the current time of course, and a battery that lasts a couple of days. And real design, not a brick.

  • ksegall

    To each his/her own. But I definitely don’t think the masses believe Samsung created the first cool looking smartwatch. With such consistently bad reviews, it’s hard to imagine that buyers’ opinions will be very different.

    It may well be that most viewers don’t remember the first iPhone ad. So there are two issues here that are independent of one another. One is what appeals to viewers. Another is what is morally correct behavior for an advertiser. I get that it doesn’t impact sales or general public perception — but the creative community does not take kindly to those who steal ideas. And Samsung, widely criticized for copying Apple, should certainly be more sensitive to this type of behavior.

  • chris

    This ad isn’t nearly as bad as you think. And the watch isn’t as good as Samsung thinks.

  • Chaka10

    What agency did this for Samsung?

  • JD

    Well said! Argue all you want about this being a copy of an idea… Samsung has a track record of copying and needs to change their game if they want out of that well earned reputation. Instead, they seem to want to flaunt it.

    Whats more disturbing are the people who still don’t get it. There are a lot of fanboys on all sides, but anyone that disputes Samsung as the copy-cat king is the definition of a true sheep.

  • shaundavid

    Utter silliness. Why did Samsung even decide to make a Smart Watch? Ultimately it’s because of all the rumors swirling about that Apple is going to bring a smart watch to market in the next year. In essence, they are riding the buzz that stirred up around Apple. How lame is that? Why does Apple even need to create awareness through their ads? Did you see how many iPhones they sold a few weeks ago at launch? People simply hear “New iPhone!” through word-of-mouth and they go. Besides, creating awareness is absolutely related to sales being made! What is the purpose of creating awareness? Brands attempt to generate awareness in hopes that it leads to sales. It’s frightening that an office “full of creatives” supposedly lapped this up. Apparently the use of “creative” is a bit loose. Sorry, but these ads are lame and yet another attempt to rip a page out of Apple’s playbook.

  • RedMercury

    I agree with JC–I liked the ads and the references. It made me want to find out more about this, which is what an ad is supposed to do.

    Granted, what I found out did not make me want to go buy one. I’d wait for a version 2 or 3 and see if they can work out the kinks.

    But the rest of your comment sounds somewhat like the reviewer who just can’t understand why that critically acclaimed movie made no money while the random piece of hollywood shlock makes tons. Samsung gave up on wooing the so-called “Creative Community” when they beautifully parodied them in the “Apple Store Line” commercials (I really wanted a “Dude. You’re a barista.” T-Shirt). They’re after the rest of us.

  • ksegall

    You misunderstand my comment about the creative community. I’m talking about those in the advertising biz. And I said that this is an issue that has nothing to do with how the public receives an ad.

    I have in the past complimented those behind the ads making fun of Apple customers in line. Those are original and entertaining. Even if I liked the new Samsung ad, I have to be true to the ethics of my profession — and copying Apple’s ad is not an honorable thing to do.

  • SO we create.

    Nice words Ken.

    I have a major problem with Samsung; being a Creative Consultant.

    That problem is that all they seem to do is copy. You know as well as I do that if a company copies a competitor the very best that the company can achieve is a half-baked ripoff.

    The other side of this is that the company also copies the mistakes too!

    I think the problem with Samsung is that they are a FMCG business, whereas Apple isn’t.

    Samsung are trying to be ‘Apple’ and trying to outdo Apple at being themselves and this can never happen as the two companies are totally different in culture and approach.

    Samsung’s obsessive copying of Apple has even gone the fanatical point that they even have a Korean guy working there who dresses like Steve Jobs.

    This is just plain crazy to me – Samsung need to re-discover their own ‘voice’.

    If you look at the Galaxy Gear, that is a product based on no product created originally by Apple and because of this Samsung has produced a 1980’s digital watch rip-off based on the thinking that Apple would do the same.

    If/when Apple decided to create a ‘smart watch’ you get bet that it wont look like a watch for a start.

    Samsung is a photocopy business, and the great thing is that the more products they bring out because of an ‘Apple rumour’ the more crap they will deliver and the more people will finally realise that Samsung hasn’t any ideas.

  • qka

    You have to admit the ad was honest when they called it “the next BIG thing”. Damn, it’s clunky!

  • Dan

    Ken, I have not seen any advertisements for the 5s. Do you think its a smart move to strictly advertise the 5c? Or do you think it would benefit to market both?

  • ksegall

    Makes some sense not to try to do two things at once with your marketing message. The 5c is the mass-market item. I suspect we’ll see 5s spots for Touch ID soon.

  • I really like the last sentence….icing on the cake.

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  • Andrew F.

    For the record, Apple’s iPhone ad was itself a copy of a short film called Telephones.

  • Chaka10

    Would it make sense to spend marketing dollars on the 5s when Apple can’t make enough of them as it is, even without the marketing push?

  • ksegall

    Well, there are two reasons to advertise. One is simply to sell more products. The other is to enhance the brand by portraying Apple as a true innovator — with features such as Touch ID.

    Brand-building has always been a high priority for Apple, and a major reason for its success. I’d be very surprised if Apple didn’t make a big deal out of a feature that none of its competitors can match.

  • Chaka10

    Thanks. Makes sense. Perhaps Apple might wait a bit until the 5s availability eases up somewhat — so consumers don’t wonder what Apple’s doing (and find their patience tested)? Hmm.

  • Q

    I don’t undestand Samsung’s efforts to go over Apple, I mean, they make very good products (except for this watch, I’ll writeabout it later) that are actually able to speak for themselves. I think that Samsung’s problem is that they are not trying to make their own personality, and here is where they fail, and that’s the main reason that could explain the impact of this add.
    Now the watch. The Pebble is fine. Not that I can live without it, but I like the idea. The Galaxy Gear is not a revolution, I’m sorry. The feature that I like the less is that no-privacy-wrist-com-link with your phone. Let’s be honest… I wouldn’t like a stranger to hear what the conversation is all about. Eventhough, two guys playing they are spies on a bar trying to approach ladies talking to their watches could have been funnier…

  • Hm

    Indeed it was. And a rather underhand one at that as I understand, though I would be pleased to be corrected if it was not. But that still doesn’t make it a good reason for Samsung, who are already widely criticised for their slavish copying of Apple, to do it again. They just have no shame it seems, nor class about them at all.

  • Chris

    It’s pretty funny that a lot of people keep saying that Samsung is copying Apple. Could one of you please tell me where i can buy an Apple Smart Watch? Anyone?

  • ksegall

    Yes, a lot of people are saying that Samsung is copying Apple. Including those in the judicial system, which has found Samsung guilty of that very thing.

    But your point about the Apple smart watch is well taken, and that was the point of my ending bit of humor. This is the first time Samsung has entered a market that Apple is targeting (we think) before Apple has unveiled its product.

    So when and if Apple does launch a smartwatch, we’ll see how the two products compare at a moment when Samsung can’t be accused of copying.

    I’m looking forward to that.

  • Chaka10

    I’m looking forward to seeing the over/under on on quickly the Gear changes gear if and when Apple launches a smartwatch.

  • Chris Castagnola

    Actually, this whole “copying” thing is kind of silly. In fact, it can be argued that Apple has always copied everyone else. They didn’t invent the Mp3—they perfected it. Same thing with the pc, smart phone, tablet, laptop, and, soon, the watch and TV. Apple usually has the best products out there, but rarely do they have the first ones out there.

  • ksegall

    Well … I do think it’s silly for Samsung, a company widely accused of copying Apple, to do anything that can be remotely interpreted as more copying. Especially with advertising — since there are infinite creative ways to sell a product.

    But it’s also silly to talk about Apple being a copier in anywhere near the same sense that Samsung is. Apple is copying the successes of other companies. It is entering categories where products do exist, and literally “showing the way.” In both phones and tablets, competing products then appear to reap the benefits of Apple’s innovation. They weren’t there before. Previous attempts (like Microsoft tablet) quietly go away. Even software like Android, which was in development before iPhone, was re-sculpted to be more like iOS following iPhone’s release.

    Innovation does not mean creating every element from scratch, or even being the first in a category. It means understanding what will get people excited, and combining hardware and software design to create something remarkable. That Apple has done this repeatedly, and its competitors have yet to do it even once, is an indication of how difficult this is. It takes an incredible amount of talent and vision.

    It’s really stretching things to say that Apple’s success has come from “copying.”

  • Justanotherfanboy

    I thought it was awesome. I got goosebumps watching their commercial. I screamed for the rest if the family to come watch and rewound it for them.
    As a rule, I always watch recorded television and fast forward through commercials. This one got my attention.
    Still, I have no interst in a device that, essentially, is a display for my lock screen. Not that it’s iPhone compatible anyhow.

  • chris

    Ken, this is totally off topic but I hope you’ll give me your opinion on this: how come the iPad doesn’t allow for more than one person to log on to their own account. My mac and MacBook allow numerous people to log on to their own accounts. The iPad is the ultimate pass-it-back-and-forth machine yet there’s no way to for each user to access his or her own information. I think the Kindle, or is it the Nook, allows this. I hope it’s not for the simple reason that they want everyone in the family to buy their own. Thanks in advance. Chris

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  • Nameless Coward

    Uhm yeah.. about that eyewatch.
    Indeed it will tell the time. But many are still clueless about Apples motto and modus operandi.

    They re-invent and market wise invent new products that make life better.
    Starting with usability and new approaches.

    Sammy and other just appeal users and viewers to the Great Idea
    or as of late Apple, but actually are clueless as how to execute and produce this.

    Many ppl are easily suckered this way. Hold this carrot for their nose some smoke and mirrors and say it’s the next Big Thing. And they believe. Just like that. Pow.

    THis time I do too. I do, I do believe. Indeed it’s the next Big Clunky Thing.

    I do not like Samsung. They so much allude to old futile Europe. There’s nothing romantic about kings and queens. They were tyrants. Technocrats in this day and age. Samsung behaves as much. The bright side is Samsung has no clothes. They’re naked thinking we can’t see them.

    And I aint liking waht im seeing

  • Jessica Darko

    For the first time, I think, I disagree with you. First off, there is a delightful trick-or-treat themed ad where the family is dressed up like Star Wars characters (“even the dog”, which has an appropriate and hilarious wheeze.) I also like the “hello” watch commercial (there are two variations I’ve seen) which are not bad at all.

    I hate the company, and the products and will never buy one. But as someone forced to suffer thru ads when watching TV, samsungs are much less annoying now than most of the others — quite an improvement from the snotty apple bashing ones with the “line losers” back in the past.

    So, I appreciate that at least samsung is doing a better job now.

  • Jessica Darko

    Apple LITERALLY invented the PC. With the Apple I and Apple II. You can’t claim that Apple “didn’t invent the PC”, sorry.

    They also invented the laptop form factor. Previously portables were much different much like the compaq with built in CRT and keyboard that attached at top like a handle.

    Apple also invented the Smartphone.

    If you want to say Apple never invented anything because Bell invented the phone, then, well, your point is silly.

  • ksegall

    First of all, we’re all entitled to an opinion. Plenty have disagreed with me before :)

    But this article is only about the one ad I describe. The second spot for the Gear watch that you mention is pretty good. I think it makes its point much better. At least a few times in recent months, I’ve noted that Samsung is doing more creative advertising than Apple, and doing it on the “big” media buys, like the Super Bowl and Oscars. Some may dislike Samsung’s products or ethics, but strictly as an advertiser, they’ve been running circles around Apple — taking chances and investing far more in advertising.

  • ksegall

    You’ve hit upon my biggest complaint about iPad. I agree that of all Apple devices, iPad is the one most likely to be used by a number of family members. Personal information needs to remain personal. I think I mentioned this in my review of the original iPad, and I’ve been hoping to see in every version of iOS since.

    I don’t think it’s all part of an evil plan to get us to buy multiple iPads. But I really don’t know why personal user log-ins haven’t been implemented. Perhaps it’s a memory issue? If you ever find any clues, do share.

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  • Pity that the video is removed from YouTube. Is there a copy somewhere? Or are you referring to this one: http://youtu.be/I1fq7gLcyos

  • ksegall

    No, this is it here: http://bit.ly/1yr1gwa. I’ll fix the link.

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