Above is an advert made by Samsung for one of their new phones. The aim, presumably, is to make people buy the new Galaxy S2. I can only assume that it’s not aimed at me, since it seems to be suggesting that I’m a preening idiot for buying an iPhone.
Samsung are, of course, entitled to their opinions. Indeed, maybe a preening idiot is exactly what I am. However, is telling me, or anyone else, a particularly effective way of selling anyone a phone? I’m really not so sure.
I’m A Mac with a soft spot for PC
Let’s point out for starters, however, that this approach is something that Apple themselves used for quite some time with the ‘I’m a PC, I’m a Mac’ ads. Let me just add now that I found that equally insufferable, and found myself thinking repeatedly that it was actually ‘PC’ that I’d far rather be spending my time with that the jumped up twonk that represented ‘Mac’. I don’t like this sort of advertising either way.
The Fanboy Fallacy
Returning to the Samsung ad though - what exactly is that they are trying to achieve? On Twitter @IanVisits suggests:
you can’t persuade an Apple fanboy to change their mind - so why not reach out to the undecided customer?
He also calls Samsung’s attitude ‘clever’, but I think it’s exactly this attitude where I think they’ve made a big mistake. Essentially, they seem to have thrown money at an ad that recreates the ongoing ‘fanboy’ battle played out by dozy geeks online. The gist of it is that some people like Apple too much, and they’re ‘Apple Fanboys’, people so blinded by Apple’s marketing that they buy Apple products entirely uncritically. These fanboys apparently think that they’re brilliant because they do so. However low your opinion of your potential customers might be, the fact is Apple aren’t successful because they tapped this geek market of ‘fanboys’1. Apple are successful because they sell phones to normal, average non-techy people. Many of these normal, average people have bought iPhones in the past, Christ, some of they may even have queued. Surely Samsung would like them as customers, wouldn’t they? Is this likely to achieve that?
As far as I can tell, they appear to have created an ad that exclusively tells already existing customers that they’re better than everyone else, while alienating a huge collection of potential customers. It doesn’t seem like a sensible way of growing a customer base.
The thing is that I think Samsung are doing this because they think that this is what Apple themselves do. Samsung believe that Apple build up their customers to think they’re better than everyone else. In the same way that Samsung have built up a business getting as close to ripping off Apple’s products as intellectual property law will allow, they’re now trying to do the same thing in their advertising. That’s the best explanation I can find for why they’ve been persuaded that this is a good way of spending their money.
Samsung’s Advertising Problem
I can understand Samsung’s problem in advertising though. Let’s take an iPhone ad. Many, if not all, are about showing you the functionality of the phone itself. Many have a simple white background and just show someone working their way through a few features. I find them a bit annoying, but broadly they’re an effective way of showing you what you can do with the phone.
Samsung can’t do this, because their phones are powered by Android. If they made an advert showing you all the functionality a Samsung Galaxy user would have, they’d also be advertising every other Android phone on the market, and theirs is one of the most expensive Android phones available. Customers would look at the ad, decide they like this feature or other, then go into a phone shop and buy a cheaper version of an Android phone, probably made by their competitors.
This isn’t a dig at Samsung’s own phones, per se, as far as I can tell they make some of the best Android products available, but the things that set them apart from their competitors (marginally better specs in the main) aren’t things that many users care about, and when they pop into their local phone shop, most will be talked into buying the Android phone that happens to have the largest mark up in the store.
So I understand why Samsung can’t take the route of showing their phone is better (even if, at least compared to other Android competitors it is) and I can understand why they can’t just show you the phone working and someone enjoying it, but the route they’ve taken instead of trying to make people who own iPhones look like idiots, just looks desperate and rather pathetic.
Samsung Still Don’t Understand
What this shows more than anything else is that Samsung don’t understand why people love their iPhones, and why people will queue for hours to get one, and until they understand that they’re never likely to make a phone that really competes with the iPhone for those users, and honestly, that’s a shame.