Deconstructing Samsung vs. Apple

Funny ad. What’s going on here? Samsung is depositioning Apple.

The best book on marketing ever written was “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind.” In it, Al Ries and Jack Trout wrote, “In our overcommunicated society, very little communication actually takes place. Rather, a company must create a ‘position’ in the prospect’s mind. A position that takes into consideration not only a company’s own strengths and weaknesses, but those of its competitors as well…”

More gems:

– “Positioning is not what you do to a product. Positioning is what you do to the mind of the prospect.”

– “To be successful today, you must touch base with reality. And the only reality that counts is what’s already in the prospect’s mind.”

– “The basic approach of positioning is not to create something new and different, but to manipulate what’s already up there in the mind, to retie the connections that already exist.”

– “To cope with the product explosion, people have learned to rank products and brands in the mind. Perhaps this can best be visualized by imagining a series of ladders in the mind. On each step is a brand name.”

– “A competitor that wants to increase its share of business must either dislodge the brand above (a task that is usually impossible) or somehow relate its brand to the other company’s position.”

Nicely done, Samsung. This works much better than T-Mobile’s recent attacks on Apple (which just try to make Apple look dumb and shamelessly mirror the “I’m a Mac” campaign) because Samsung recognizes Apple has avid fans. You likely see yourself in the line outside the store. Samsung is almost saying, that’s cool, we get it, fanboys — but, just one thing, we’re also cool, perhaps cooler, with a bigger screen and a really new, unique product, so why not take a step over to our brand ladder? Hmm.

Positioning is an old strategy — Ries and Trout first wrote about it in 1972 — but that doesn’t mean human psychology has changed.

Ben Kunz is vice president of strategic planning at Mediassociates, an advertising media planning and buying agency, and co-founder of its digital trading desk eEffective.


3 thoughts on “Deconstructing Samsung vs. Apple

  1. A good ad for sure Ben, but I think this will preach to the choir rather than persuading any current or prospective Apple user to come over to the dark side.

    I’m one of course, and the first part of the ad showing the fan boys (and girls) standing in line was indeed quite funny.

    Then it switched to the Samsung users showing off the big screen. My immediate reaction? Tell us something we don’t already know.

    The cartoonish types portrayed in the ad aside, most iDevice users recognise that, yes, Android devices have more impressive specs here and there.

    So what? Apple’s strengths have never been in the computing equivalent of horsepower.

    Rather, it is the both the operating system, the ease of use and the app ecosystem and resultant communities (Instagram immediately springs to mind) that does it for me and I don’t think I am atypical in that respect. None of those were addressed.

    Nicely crafted though it is, what this ad ended up doing for me was actually to remind me why for the foreseeable future I’ll carry on using Apple devices!

  2. I have to agree with Dirk. It’s funny, but making me feel like a tool (as an apple user) isn’t a way to get me to use a samsung phone.

    Sony (I think) did a similar anti-iPod ad about 8 years ago showing ipod users are mindless drones. This ad as well told me very little about the prduct, or what need a sony mp3 player would solve for me – and instead refelcted to me that they felt I was a copy-cat loser.

    I agree repositioning apple is a valid strategy, but to do so you have to have a solid positioning yourself. Being “not-apple” isn’t it a strong proposition. Neither is having “big screen”. Where’s the customer problem? Where’s the need being solved? If their inight is about being an individual / not following the herd, and how can you do that when every other arsehole has an iPhone, then by coming at it from a negative, I think they fail.

  3. Can’t say ridiculing your target market is especially smart. Also, it never pays to give too much of your (er, paid for) time to referring to the competition… unless you pi** take in a witty/charming manner or use the lack of market share as a positive. Witness the classic Avis line..”We’re number two, so we try harder”…..versus Hertz. There’s a distinct lack of class too…seems bitter and jars somewhat given a certain recent passing away..dancing on the grave? But, that’s just me as I am very biased…hence this agency’s name! Anyway, my considered opinion is that it’s bollo**s (technical term).

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