Mar 14

Samsung: the Jekyll-and-Hyde of advertising

Wow, pretty great ad for the Paralympics from Samsung.

The kid is charming. The editing and music are great. The concept is great. The theme line — “Sport doesn’t care” — has attitude and well captures the spirit of the event.

So what’s wrong with this picture?

Not a thing.

And that, in a weird way, is exactly what’s wrong.

Here’s Samsung with a high-quality, on-target, beautifully executed commercial. And it’s the same Samsung that just a short time ago let loose a spot with a good chance of becoming the worst ad of the century. (Early to predict, but this one could easily appall viewers for another 86 years.) Take a look if you haven’t seen it already:

The question is: how is this even possible? How can one company simultaneously live on both ends of the wretched-to-great advertising spectrum?

In this case, the circumstantial evidence is all we need to draw conclusions. Samsung either has no global “marketing czar” or the one they have is defective, and should be returned or replaced.

These spots obviously came from different agencies in different geographies. It’s the job of the marketing leader to ensure that the brand values are consistently enforced around the world. Otherwise, the company isn’t building its brand — it’s just spewing forth ads.

Of course, Samsung’s spewing comes with a massive marketing budget. By most reports, it spends 2x-3x more than Apple on marketing. So when it hits on a good ad, it does damage Apple to a degree. When it runs a clunker, it simply damages itself.

Without a smart marketing leader, without high standards, without quality agencies — a global company can never be more than “hit and miss” in the ad department.

Which is something Samsung has done an excellent job of demonstrating.

(You can see Samsung’s manifesto ad for the Paralympics effort — also well done — here.)