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A history of Samsung advertising gone wrong


With a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 in hand at The Oscars, Bradley Cooper this past Sunday took what quickly became the most retweeted photo in Twitter history. But what was supposed to be yet another Samsung advertising coup turned into yet another Samsung advertising misstep.

You see, the Wall Street Journal reports that Samsung spent upwards of $20 million in Oscars advertising and product placement only to have Ellen DeGeneres -- its product placement conduit for the evening -- revert to using an iPhone once off the stage during commercial breaks.

During rehearsals Samsung executives trained Ms. DeGeneres on how to use the Samsung Galaxy, two people familiar with the matter said.

To wit, here's a tweet Ellen sent out just moments after taking a break from her hosting duties.

Ellen tweet iPhone

This certainly isn't earth-shattering, but Samsung can't be too thrilled considering that it partnered up with ABC to sponsor a series of 10 tweets during the Oscars, only to have the iPhone sneak its way into the mix.

While it's entirely plausible, as Danny Sullivan of Marketing Land suggests, that the photo may have been taken by a Degeneres assistant with access to the star's Twitter account, this isn't the first time we've seen a Samsung ad gone wrong.

Let's take a stroll down memory lane.

Kate Upton forgets to put away her iPhone 4

In August of 2012, Samsung invited Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model Kate Upton to attend and help promote the launch of its Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet. Okay, that sounds like a solid plan. But perhaps due to the excitement of getting Upton on-board, Samsung must have plum forgot to tell Upton to put her white iPhone 4 away for the evening.


T-Mobile CEO John Legere loves his Galaxy Note 3 from his iPhone

Returning to the Galaxy Note 3 for a bit, you might recall a tweet from T-Mobile CEO John Legere praising Samsung for bringing "phablets to the states." In fact, Legere's passion for the Galaxy Note 3 runs so deep that he doesn't know what he'd do without it!

Funny, because who's to say what Legre even does with it considering that he sent out that affectionate Galaxy Note 3 tweet from his iPhone.

Following that, Legere attempted to clear the air by stating that he simply is a man of many devices.

john legere t-mobile samsung

While certainly plausible, it doesn't help that Legere's isn't logged into the Galaxy Note, not to mention the fact that he's still using a generic carrier background on the device, in stark contrast to his iPhone 5s.

Okay, we're admittedly giving the likeable Legere a bit of a hard time here, but the larger point is that Samsung has a ridiculously large advertising budget that far exceeds Apple's and they still haven't figured out that paying or encouraging celebrities to tout their love for all things Samsung may not be the best idea.

Incidentally, Samsung's 2012 advertising budget even eclipsed Coca Cola's.

"But back to the lecture at hand", with a look at Samsung advertising gone awry for different reasons.

Samsung video goes misogynistic

Check out this misogynistic 2013 promotional ad for the Samsung 840 EVO Series SSD. In addition to horribly bad acting, we're introduced to a woman who primarily uses her computer to browse the web, look at family photos and videos, and help out her kids with their homework. That may not be so bad if she doesn't proceed to state her computer is "always on while I do chores" because it takes so long to boot up. And it only gets worse from there. You really have to see this one, in all of its ridiculous glory, to believe it.

For some added context on this video, the actor portraying the 'businessman" in the video chimed in on a Reddit thread titled, "Samsung ad featuring possibly the world's worst actors."

  1. They force us to speak slowly since this will be dubbed over in Korean, and even when it isnt, most people viewing it will be Korean.
  2. They ask us to exaggerate since many Korean people feel thats how we 'naturally' act (most people here are not very expressive). Ive worked many jobs where I tried to act naturally only to be told by the director to act more 'bright' (ie exaggerate). its how the director and client (in this case, Samsung), WANT us to act.
  3. the script is brutal. written by non-native english speakers, and sometimes the PD or director wont even take our suggestions to change some parts so they sound like something a normal native english speaker would say. its a promotional video, not a tv commercial, meaning it will be shown at conventions and expos and in-house. most of the people watching it are korean and thats why they make us do all of the above.
  4. The Korean guy is a student and and girl is an English teacher. They do this stuff part time. shooting took place from 730am - 3am the next day, and by the time they shot the scenes with the girl, she was literally falling asleep in her chair, hence the stoned expression and tone :)

Samsung shows faith in Facebook users, plan backfires

Next up, we have a September Samsung Galaxy S III ad posted on Samsung's Facebook page asking users what device they'd take with them if stranded on a deserted island. And like clockwork, many folks answered that they'd actually bring along an iPhone. One response went so far as to say "Not a Samsung" while another jokester answered "Electric boat."

To be fair, if Apple posted a similar question on one of its own social media pages, you can bet that there'd be lots of folks hyping up Samsung devices just to ruffle a few feathers. But therein lies the difference; Apple doesn't post ads like these. You would think Samsung's marketing folks would realize that when you open up comments to everyone, things often never go as planned. This is a lesson McDonalds also learned the hard way not too long ago.

Samsung Galaxy Gear ad is hilariously horrible

In an apparent effort to preempt Apple's rumored iWatch, Samsung this past September released the widely ridiculed Galaxy Gear smartwatch. In yet another "it's so bad you have to see it to believe it" video, Samsung provided us with this gem.

Clearly, this ad needs to be the subject of an intense and thorough multi-disciplinary academic study. The ad just raises so many unanswered questions: Is Aimee really impressed by such non-impressive technology? Did either Jack or Aimee qualify for the Sochi Olympic Games? Why are the three main characters in the video always wearing hats? How does Jack know so much about wine? Did the apparent iPhone-using fellow break down and jump ship to Android? And more importantly, was Jack actually able to leverage the mediocre Galaxy Gear into a long-lasting relationship with Aimee?

Samsung ambassador David Beckham still an iPhone user at heart

Returning to the topic of Samsung celebrities gone wild, former Soccer star David Beckham became a Samsung global brand ambassador at the 2012 London Olympics, appearing in a number of print and video ads for the tech behemoth. Still, all that Samsung ad money couldn't convince Beckham to ignore the iPhone 5s.

Here he is at the most recent Super Bowl, all smiles, iPhone 5s in hand.

Which isn't to say Beckham isn't a good brand ambassador. Here he is jokingly refusing to pick up a phone during a press conference because "it's not a Samsung."

Galaxy Player page on Samsung homepage features iOS

Admittedly, marketing folks aren't necessarily tech folks, but you'd think that there would be at least some head honcho on Samsung's marketing team tasked with making sure mistakes like this don't happen -- here we see a 2011 screenshot of Samsung's homepage advertising the Samsung Galaxy Player. Only problem is that it depicts a Samsung device with Google Maps for iOS.

Tennis Star David Ferrer loves his Galaxy S4, but still uses an iPhone

As the sponsor of the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament this past Spring, Samsung presumably paid or 'encouraged' Spanish tennis star David Ferrer to tweet how happy he was with his Samsung Galaxy S4. But as you might have guessed, he tweeted it from his trusty ole' iPhone.

David ferrer twitter iphone

The tweet reads that he's happy with his new Galaxy S4 and is currently configuring Samsung S Health to help with his training.

Sure he is.

Michael Bay storms off-stage at CES '14

At CES 2014, Samsung was able to get big-time Hollywood director Michael Bay to endorse its new line of curved HDTVs - an advertisement in real-time so to speak. But when Bay came on stage to talk about Samsung's jaw-dropping 105-inch UHD TV, his teleprompter wasn't working correctly, prompting Bay to abruptly storm off stage.

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