Reuters reports that Samsung is expected to spend $14 billion in advertising and marketing this year. That’s more than what Google paid to buy Motorola Mobility.
Despite the heavy spending, the marketing efforts backfired on a few occasions. Samsung was under fire for blatant product placement:
Last month, a Samsung-sponsored short-film contest finale at the Sydney Opera House received poor reviews for blatant product placement in a series of ‘behind the scenes’ videos. In Britain, viewers panned a product placement deal with ITV’s popular X-Factor talent show. “Is this a singing competition or an extended Samsung advert?” asked Twitter user Ryan Browne.
Some of the advertisements were outright sexist:
Earlier this year, Samsung’s New York launch of its latest top-of-the-range Galaxy smartphone came under fire for being sexist, portraying giggling women chatting about jewelry and nail polish while the men discussed the new phone, and the company’s new fridge and washing machine launch in South Africa drew similar complaints as it featured swim-suit dancers.
To have a picture of how ineffective it’s marketing campaigns are, compare it with how much Apple spent on advertising:
But, while Samsung has become the world’s biggest advertiser, spending $4.3 billion on ads alone last year, its global brand value of $39.6 billion is less than half that of Apple, which spent only $1 billion on advertising, according to Interbrand and ad researcher Ad Age.
Analysts attribute the poor returns to Samsung’s weak branding. While it has established itself as a reliable brand, its mobile devices are simply a part of Android market, and not a differentiated product like the iOS devices or Windows and Windows Phone devices.
“The stronger, more differentiated the product, the less it needs to be propped up by advertising,” said Horace Dediu, founder of independent research firm Asymco and a former Nokia business development manager, referring to Apple’s ad spend.
“When your brand doesn’t have a clear identity, as is the case with Samsung, to keep spending is probably the best strategy,” said Moon Ji-hun, head of brand consultant Interbrand’s Korean operation. “But maintaining marketing spend at that level in the longer term wouldn’t bring much more benefit. No one can beat Samsung in terms of (ad) presence, and I doubt whether keeping investing at this level is effective.”
“Samsung’s marketing is too much focused on projecting an image they aspire to: being innovative and ahead of the pack,” said Oh Jung-suk, associate professor at the business school of Seoul National University. “They are failing to efficiently bridge the gap between the aspiration and how consumers actually respond to the campaign. It’s got to be more aligned.”