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Samsung seized on death of Steve Jobs to launch anti-Apple ads

updated 10:29 am EDT, Wed April 16, 2014

Public assumed to be worried about Apple's prospects

Samsung decided to launch its "Next Big Thing" campaign -- parodying Apple -- in the wake of the death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, according to an email trail exposed during the ongoing Apple v. Samsung patent trial. Samsung America's VP of US sales, Mike Pennington, described Jobs' death as "the best opportunity" to run a campaign targeting Apple, since people would be worried about whether Apple could continue to come up with great ideas minus Jobs' influence. "Sorry to continue to push this issue, but I have seen this far too long and I know this is our best opportunity to attack iPhone," Pennington is quoted as saying.

Pennington received approval from chief marketing officer Todd Pendleton. "Hey Michael, We are going to execute what you are recommending in our holiday [Galaxy S2] campaign and go head to head with iPhone 4S," he replied.

Prior to the exchange, Samsung was concerned about running ads that went after Apple directly, since the companies were and continue to be partners in some respects. Samsung produces the A-series chips used in every iOS device, for instance. As a solution, Samsung discussed asking Google to run its own anti-Apple campaign; while Google is still the primary web search engine in iOS and OS X, the two companies have otherwise severed ties.

by MacNN Staff



  1. jmonty12

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-02-03

    Samsung: Worst. Partner. Ever.

  1. JEB

    Junior Member

    Joined: 05-06-01

    Morbid . . . but I guess that's business, yo! The iPhone 4s rocked it anyways!

  1. pairof9s

    Senior User

    Joined: 01-03-08

    I don't really have a problem with this in that in fact, Jobs the legendary leader of Apple, was no longer leading it. It's simply a good business strategy to go after your competition when you perceive there to be a possible weakness in their leadership due to loss, regardless of how it comes about.

  1. azrich

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-19-10

    I agree with pairof9s since they didn't put out ads mocking him or celebrating his passing.

    This was a missed opportunity on their part (if it were even an opportunity to begin with). The ads they DID put out had an air of superiority and condescendence that REALLY rubbed me the wrong way. I don't know if I'm a typical/average iPhone owner but this ad campaign wasn't convincing me to consider Samsung. In fact those ads did the complete opposite. That's why I say a missed opportunity. The tone hasn't changed in their ads, and it amazes me how douche-y they are. Heck, now they are even being douce-y to the Kindle and Surface. Yay.

    I guess I'm already brainwashed.

  1. davidlfoster

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 12-06-05

    Both pathetic and soulless. Samsung users, go ahead and enjoy your toys, but do reflect on the corporate monster that sold them to you.

  1. prl99

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 03-24-09

    @azrich No, you're not brainwashed, you just know what products work best for you. You also are aware of the negative marketing Samsung (and others) use against Apple. The I am a PC ad was the last Apple ad I remember where they went after the competition. Now, they just present the facts and actually show what they can do instead of make remarks about how bad Apple products are. Some people can see through this garbage while others just follow the lead sheep and jump off the cliff.

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-11-08

    Samsung employed the weapon of timing, not the actual event. They didn't directly exploit Steve Jobs' death, they directly exploited the timing of his death.

    It's business. It may not be the most warm-hearted or empathetic thing to do, but it's business, and Samsung could have run with Steve Jobs' death in much more ethically-devoid ways.

  1. lvavila

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 01-21-11

    Funny, what went thru my mind was "Now that Jobs is gone, will Samsung still make 2nd class solutions". Hey LOVE their TVs

  1. RobOnTheCape

    Senior User

    Joined: 01-16-04

    Steve would have done it.

  1. wrenchy

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 11-03-09

    Oh please. The film had been planned long before. Filming, editing, post production were all complete. Release of the ad was imminent.
    Jobs' died and Samsung released their ad.

    The world is not going to stop because Steve died.

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-11-08

    They may not have planned the content of the ads around the death of Jobs, but they certainly planned the timing of the ads around the death of Steve Jobs... that's exactly what the article says.

    Jobs' death and Samsung's releasing of this particular ad is no coincidence, and even Samsung admits it's not a coincidence. Samsung would have likely released the ad whether or not Jobs was alive, but it's hard to argue when Samsung is, in no unclear terms, directly saying, "Hey, Steve Jobs just died, and therefore we should release this ad now while his flock is shaken."

  1. rtamesis

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 01-10-00

    Samsung just confirmed that they are really vultures.

  1. mac_in_tosh

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 12-14-11

    azrich: The ads they put out had an air of superiority and condescendence that rubbed you the wrong way, but the "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" ads were different?

  1. azrich

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-19-10

    Mac- I didn't like those ads either. Plenty of people argue that their tone was different, but I wasn't a big fan and would MUCH rather see ads like we do for the iPad now. I get work done on my iPad and iPhone so I appreciate the new ads. Sadly, roasting coffee isn't as exotic as what you see in the ads so I probably won't be in one anytime soon.

  1. carloblackmore

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 12-28-05

    As for the commercials... it seems that Samsung seriously was considering the alternative of approaching Google to be the marketing sword against Apple. But at some point decided, they would go it alone. It's not hard to imagine after Jobs's passing, that execs at Samsung finally felt sufficiently brave to go with Apple-mocking ads without a Steve's legendary fury to worry about in the back of their minds.
    First of all, it's not unheard of for a company to trash an ad campaign at the last minute, or demote it to just a web-campaign. Second, it wouldn't take that long for an ad agency to turn around revised ads when they're just people standing around talking. Third, it's not so impossible for Samsung to repurpose footage and hand it over to Google and swap out the Samsung branding at the end of the ads.

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