Samsung may have lost the most recent round in the UnitedStates in its legal fight with Apple over cellphone technology, but that hasn’t stopped it from mounting a new assault against Apple that relies on a more publictactic — full-page ads.
In a round of ads that began this week, Samsung takes direct aim at Apple, claiming its Galaxyphone is a better choice than the new iPhone 5.
While going after a competitor in an ad is not a new technique, the tone of the Samsung ads isdecidedly sarcastic for a technology company emerging from a $1 billion defeat in the latestpatent battle between the two companies.
One of the ads features the company’s new Galaxy S III alongside the iPhone 5. The ad, whichbegan appearing in print publications over the weekend, features an image of an iPhone tilted tothe right and a white Galaxy phone tilted to the left under the headline, “It doesn’t take a genius.” Below each phone is a list of its features.
“This is a marketing campaign; it’s not a legal campaign,” said Teri Daley, a Samsungrepresentative. “As marketers we’re focused on educating consumers. We feel like they’vesomewhat been led down a blind path when truly that innovation has stopped a long time ago.”
The genius reference could be interpreted as a swipe at the Apple customer support employees, who work at the company’s “Genius Bars.” This summer, Apple started a television ad campaignfeaturing a Genius Bar employee. The campaign was short-lived.
Todd Pendleton, Samsung’s chief marketing officer, said the “It doesn’t take a genius” ad was notmeant to insult iPhone owners. “Apple users or fanboys, or whatever you call them, they’re notthe target of this work at all,” he said. “If you look at the core essence of the work, it really isshowing an innovation story. A more innovative product in this case is the GS III.”
Innovation has been at the heart of the dispute between the companies. In August, a Californiajury ruled that Samsung had infringed upon a series of mobile technology patents and awardedApple $1 billion in damages.
In a statement after the verdict, Samsung showed it was still in fighting spirit. “It is unfortunatethat patent law can be manipulated to give one company a monopoly over rectangles withrounded corners, or technology that is being improved every day by Samsung and othercompanies,” the company said. It vowed that the defeat was “not the final word in this case or inbattles being waged in courts and tribunals around the world, some of which have alreadyrejected many of Apple’s claims.”
In an interview, Mr. Pendleton said Samsung’s new ads were part of a larger campaign for theGalaxy S III that began in June and included ads on television, online, in print and in outdoor areas, like posters at bus stations. Major markets for the company include Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, he said.
A headline on a Samsung ad that ran in newspapers on Sept. 9, days before Apple introduced itsiPhone, says, “The Next Big Thing Is Already Here.” Samsung used a similar tag line in 2011, “TheNext Big Thing Is Here,” to promote its 4G service and the Galaxy S II. Television ads for thatcampaign showed people waiting in line for the latest Apple device while Samsung owners showedoff the features of phones they already had.
Adding the word “already” to this latest iteration of the campaign signaled the brand’s focus onthe iPhone 5 coming to market. The technology blog Gizmodo published a collection ofhomemade ads that Apple fans created in response to the latest Samsung ads. Headlines included “Don’t settle for cheap plastic” and “In high school, it doesn’t take a genius to understand who isjust a bully.”
Apple, which declined to comment about the Samsung campaign, has undertaken its share of adcampaigns mocking the competition.
Ken Segall, the ad guru who worked on Apple’s “Think Different” marketing campaign and theauthor of “Insanely Simple,” a book about Apple, said that over the years, Apple learned to apply alight touch of humor when it mocked competitors in ads. For example, in its previous “Get a Mac” TV commercials, a PC, personified by a pudgy John Hodgman, exchanged comedic jabs with aMac, played by a handsome Justin Long.
While Apple has outspent Samsung on advertising wireless devices, both companies haveincreased their ad spending in that category over the last year, according to data from KantarMedia, part of WPP. From January to June, Apple spent $193.1 million on advertising mobileproducts, while Samsung spent $99.9 million. In 2011, Apple spent $104.1 million during the sameperiod, while Samsung spent $6.95 million.
Tom Denari, the president and a principal at the advertising agency Young Laramore, said theSamsung campaign was reminiscent of the Pepsi and Coke wars of the 1970s and ’80s.
“It’s a classic challenger strategy, where No. 2 throws stones at the leader, in order to attractattention to itself,” Mr. Denari said.
Any brand would like to have the kind of loyalty that Apple gets from its fans, Mr. Denari said, “because these fans identify themselves so closely to the brand that they feel that Samsung is notonly attacking Apple, but they feel like they are being personally attacked as well.”