Sunday, February 5, 2012

Samsung's Super Bowl Commercial

Short take: Self-absorbed, mindlessly identical hipster dudes and dudettes are bored stupid standing in line for some (apparently) Apple device. Cool frood with a Samsung Galaxy Note walks buy, shows them it has a stylus and they immediately launch into some hybrid Bollywood / Skatetown song and dance number. Stupid line-sitters become dynamic and excited because they switched to Samsung...

So who exactly is the Samsung ad meant to persuade, and what are they trying to persuade them of?

Taking the second question first, I guess the pitch is that people who stand in line to buy an iPhone--implying, of course, that they are typical of all iPhone users--are a bored and boring group of mindless, faux hip followers who are only awaiting something better (a Stylus!) to snap them out of their delusion. Maybe I’m missing something but that seems to be about it.

So, on to the first question: Who is Samsung trying to reach with this message?

Is it the tens of thousands of people who do stand in line for Apple products now? If so, I think Sammie just scored a giant miss because these people do not see themselves at all like those portrayed in the commercial.

Could it be that Samsung is aiming at Apple users in general? I sincerely doubt that. An enormous percentage of people in art, music, literature, entertainment, science and education are, these days, pretty avid Mac users. They also happen to be some of the most interesting, independent, dynamic and creative people around. Not saying Windows users can’t be cool as well, but I can pretty much guarantee that the bulk of Apple’s customers would not recognize themselves in that commercial and, at most, it would just piss them off.

What about the average potential customer weighing whether to buy an iPhone or a Galaxy? Does Samsung figure that this hypothetical average person can be shamed into not buying Apple by association with the brainwashed crowd in line for the iPhone? Doubt it. People who don’t hang out on tech blogs--which is 99+ percent of the population--simply aren’t in on the joke. The Apple hate we read about online accounts for such a pathetically microscopic piece of the general public image of Apple and its users that the stereotyping will simply be a giant non-sequiter.  “Who are those people again, Ethel?”

Perhaps Samsung is aiming at the group that may already see Apple users as sedated line-sitters--intensely loyal Android fans--who might be otherwise inclined to buy HTC or Motorola or something. But sheesh, convincing a prospective HTC buyer to go to Samsung by bashing Apple users? Might work. Maybe. But a Super Bowl commercial wasted on that? Besides, the concept that because someone likes an Android phone they will surely mock Apple and its fans is a pretty juvenile idea limited, again, to the tiny fraction of people that get worked up over stuff like that.

Now some might say that the Get A Mac ads with Justin Long and John Hodgeman were similar to Samsung’s recent ads. But no, Hodgeman didn’t play a PC user, he played an actual PC. And the character he played was witty, likable and fun; if perhaps a bit desperate. But the ads never made fun of PC users. No PC users were harmed in the making of those ads.

In fact, the worst Apple commercial ever aired is widely acknowledged to be the famous “Lemmings” commercial of the last century. In it, Apple compared the users of IBM PC’s to lemmings, mindlessly following each other off a cliff. It turned out that this was so insulting to the users of IBM compatibles that it actually cost Apple users.

So I can’t figure out who this commercial is for and what it is really trying to accomplish. It is a vague insult aimed at an obscure group for the benefit of a public that by and large doesn’t care about techie sub-culture put-downs.

My guess is that the ad was dreamed up by an ad agency manned by a bunch of self-absorbed, self-styled hipster techies who are plugged into the tech culture just enough to know about Apple hating, and just self-absorbed enough to think that they are representative of America at large.

Two  thumbs down.

1 comment:

  1. I'd say that that commercial is lousy and it failed to deliver the intended message. They should have hired a better marketing agency in New York that would produce commercials that are more creative and effective.