On Sunday, Samsung dropped a new commercial on YouTube, encouraging Apple users to switch loyalties and "upgrade to Galaxy." The crux of its argument is that in recent years, Apple has lagged behind, debuting "innovations" on the iPhone that Samsung already featured on Galaxy models that were released first.
But I'm here to tell you why Samsung's ad is an epic fail.
Before moving on, here's full disclosure: I'm an Apple user. I'm writing this article on an iMac. I also own a MacBook, an iPhone, and an iPad. I own a few Samsung products, and my last phone (before purchasing an iPhone) was a Samsung. I realize the choice between Apple, Samsung, and other brands belongs to the consumer, and often is a matter of what appeals to the individual.
That being said, I believe this ad will do more harm than good to Samsung, and here's why:
It focuses on Samsung's chief competitor.
This is supposed to be a commercial for Samsung. You know what's funny about that?
Both the first and last images you see are Apple iPhones.
The commercial begins with Erik, the main character, walking past a long line of Apple enthusiasts standing in front of a sign featuring the very first iPhone, with the following tagline:
That image, followed by a scene in which Erik excitedly calls a loved one after buying his own iPhone, only reinforces the nostalgia of the debut of a device that literally changed the world.
Then there's the final image of the commercial, where Erik passes by a similar (yet noticeably shorter) line where people are queuing up to buy the iPhone X, Apple's new flagship product.
The problem is these images are self-defeating. They draw attention to Samsung's chief rival and give Apple free publicity for its new phone (which many reviewers are calling the new gold standard for a smartphone).
It (unwittingly) highlights Apple's strengths.
I'll be the first to admit that Apple seems to have lost its edge as a true innovator.
But Apple's strong suit, at least the past few years, hasn't been debuting new tech. Instead, it's built a reputation based on:
- Improving existing tech
- Bringing features together in a package that's stylish and user friendly
- Pushing the industry to the next level
The iPhone X is a perfect example. Reviewers admit that while Samsung was the first to use OLED screens (which are purportedly superior to the LCD screens used in most smartphones for years), Apple has now optimized and improved the OLED. The technology used in Face ID has been around in laptops for a while now, but not in mobile devices (at least, not at this scale). And that missing headphone jack? Sure, it may still be a pain for some, but realistically speaking, this was an inevitable change that Apple simply pushed forward.
When Samsung demonstrates they had some features first, they only draw attention to the fact that Apple has improved on a number of them and popularized other changes that will surely be copied in the near future.
It gets (most) Apple users wrong.
When Erik passes by those Apple disciples lined up outside, including one fanboy who has a haircut modeled after the infamous "notch" of the iPhone X, Samsung pokes fun at what many have referred to as the cult of Apple--those consumers who must have the absolute newest Apple products, right away, no matter the cost.
But here's the important thing Samsung is missing:
Most of us Apple users don't belong to that cult.
Consider me, for example. I've never stood in a long line to buy an Apple product. (Why do that when you can order online?) I still use an iPhone 5S as my main phone. My iPad is even older.
Do you know why consumers like me prefer Apple?
Sure, I like the style and features. I'm also a big fan of iOS and Mac OS, the operating system.
But there's another reason that's much more important: I prefer Apple because its products provide excellent return on investment.
That's right, Apple products work well--for a very long time.
That iPhone 5s I'm using? It's four years old, but it still works great. So does my (even older) iPad. And I was completely happy with my Windows laptop (believe it or not, I'm a big Windows 10 fan) until the hardware broke, less than two years after I spent a thousand bucks on it. (That's when I bought my Macbook Pro, which is by far the best laptop I've ever owned.)
So, here's the thing:
Samsung, you make great products. There's enough room in this world for both you and Apple.
But if it's really important that you lure customers away from your biggest competitor, focus on your strengths, and on making the very best version of your products possible.
Because ads like this may make me laugh, but they won't convince me to buy your phones.