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The Apple Lifestyle vs. The Samsung Device: Tale of the Tape

Posted by King Fish Media on Thu, Jun 27, 2013

The battle between Apple and Samsung is heating up for both smartphones and tablets.  Apple has a lot riding on the release of iOS7 and the new iPhones and iPads that will follow.  Samsung has a more varied product line and leads with the Galaxy 4.  Both product families are excellent and it often comes down to personal preference or your carrier.  The contrasts between their marketing/advertising approaches are as different as the phones.  It is a case study in how you create and leverage a brand.

Samsung’s history as a maker of devices and products is evident in their marketing – they advertise the “thing”.  And, they do like to spend.  They have always tried to bludgeon the competition with huge media buys across several products categories. Their ads focus on the features and the cool stuff you can do with the Galaxy such as the larger screen or the ability to wave your hand for a command.  This clearly appeals to people who watch a lot of video and play games, and don’t really think of it as a telephone.  The devices are stand alone in that they don’t really tie to any other Samsung offering, but rather the Apps offered in the Android store.  

The ads have another obvious theme – they are not Apple and it’s not an iPhone.  This plays on two factors, first, a blowback against the popularity of Apple and their famously devoted fans.  Secondly, they are trying to create a movement that they are the “next cool thing” and preferred by the young and hip, by contrast, Apple is for boring middle age people who drive a Camry and have 401Ks.  

Here is a long form ad that is a combination of cool gadgets and young people befuddleing their elders with their magic machine

I am not a fan of this as a long-term strategy because hinging on being the new cool thing has a short shelf life.  By definition something can only be new and leading edge for a short amount of time – ask Vine.  Also, you may be writing off or insulting a large segment of consumers.  There are not a lot of people 40+ who aspire to be a 25-year-old hipster, but they do have a lot more disposable income.

Apple’s approach is clearly illustrated by their new commercial you can see below.

When asking the famous question “what business are you in?”  Apple would never answer with anything to do with devices, phones, computer etc. Those are just the means to the end.  Apple is in the experience business – they enhance your life with information and entertainment and empower you at work.  Their have created an entire interconnected ecosystem that works together seamlessly in the cloud.  Apple is the ultimate lifestyle brand with a strong emotional connection between company and customer.  This sometimes borders on irrational (i.e. waiting online overnight for a phone that will be available everywhere within weeks), but that is what emotions are all about.  

Watch this Apple ad on how they bring you Music

This ad shows the photo experience

Everything from games, music, TV/movies, Apps, pictures are integrated and can be consumed over numerous form factors.  Apple’s ads are about empowerment, almost on a spiritual basis.  They are not so much what you can do with your Apple product but how it makes your life better.   Contrast that with the Samsung ads that often zero in on one particular feature and it is presented sometimes with an air of smugness while the vibe at Apple is one of wonder and inspiration.  And, catch the tag at the end of the newest ads – “Designed in California” Is that a jibe at Korean owned Samsung, or to make us forget about their Chinese factories?

The battle is fascinating to watch and should heat up in Q4 for the holiday season.  For now, having the integrated platform gives Apple a leg up to leverage new innovations such as wearable technology.  I’ll continue to enjoy my Apple ecosystem of media and Apps, often viewed through my AppleTV, which is connected to my Samsung LED TV.  It’s a great TV, but it offers the least amount of value throughout the chain and is the most easily replaced – that’s often the case with devices.  In contrast, experiences are hard to duplicate.


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Tags: Marketing, Content, Web 2.0, Media/Advertising Trends, Custom Media, Viral Marketing

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