How we developed the Samsung campaign: Simon Vicars, Copywriter, Colenso BBDO

Simon Vicars, Copywriter, Colenso BBDO, talks to IPA Effectiveness editor Carlos Grande.



When and why did you decide to launch a campaign?
The Galaxy S4 marked a big step forward in handset technology. We knew it would be the first Samsung phone that truly challenged the loyalty of Apple fans. We also knew there was a large and passionate group of people who were counting down the seconds until they could get their hands on it. Those two factors combined to create a perfect window to launch ‘The Smart Phone Line’.


How did you feel about the original brief?
The original brief was spot on. It highlighted the all-important tension within the New Zealand handset market. That tension was the dawning realization amongst Apple users that perhaps there was a better alternative out there.

It also pointed us towards the passion and anticipation surrounding the launch of the S4, and pretty quickly we realised there was a nerve there that we could play on.


How hard was it to get the campaign green lit?
It was surprisingly easy. (I’m sure that - at the time - it was painful, but time heals).

It was surprisingly easy because by the time we got the brief we only had five weeks to execute something. Those timelines are either a blessing or a disaster; in this case, it was a blessing.

There was no time to explore other options or over-think all the potential pitfalls. It was either approve the idea or put some posters up in-store. That crushing deadline combined with a brilliant client (and some exceptionally intelligent and committed tech guys) resulted in New Zealand’s biggest outdoor LED installation.    


When and how did you first know that you had been successful?
Advertising a genuinely great product is always a shortcut to producing an effective campaign. We had a great product in the Galaxy S4 and a great creative idea in ‘The Smart Phone Line’, so we were confident even before we saw results.

That said, the amount of interaction we saw through social media right from when the campaign launched took us all by surprise. We had underestimated the commitment and fervour of the Samsung community, and also underestimated how many people were open to joining that community. 

Sales were strong right from launch day, but we knew the true measure of success would be how long those sales could be sustained after ‘The Smart Phone Line’ was over.

Thankfully the momentum and penetration of the campaign carried transactions through for months afterwards, resulting in Samsung New Zealand’s most successful phone launch.


What was the biggest challenge in demonstrating the effectiveness of your work?
Managing expectations around what ‘effective’ meant in this instance was imperative.

Given the disintermediated nature of selling handsets (with handsets sold through retailers or operators that also advertise rather than through the manufacturers), we knew it would be difficult to drive an absolute correlation between our campaign and handset sales.

More importantly, for us success was education about, and engagement with, the features of this new phone. The focus of our campaign was to demonstrate that this engagement was delivered.

Notwithstanding this, sales of the GS4 in the quarter following ‘The Smart Phone Line’ launch were unprecedented.


What lessons did this campaign teach you?
It taught us that having more time isn’t always a good thing. The speed with which we had to move made ‘The Smart Phone Line’ the success it was. We all trusted the creative from the start.  Then it was all about getting the technology to line up with our ambition.

There was no time for second-guessing and that really was a blessing. The project team was small and our clients at Samsung were all empowered to make on-the-spot decisions, so the process was seldom stalled.


What were the low points/high points of this campaign?
The low point was getting the brief and seeing the deadline, shortly followed by telling our wives/partners that we probably wouldn’t see them for a while.

Installing a 100-and-something-feet-long screen in downtown Auckland in the depths of winter was also pretty grim.

There were lots of small wins along the way that led ‘The Smart Phone Line’ to fruition. But the biggest high would have to have been watching the organic spread of the idea. The brief was to tell New Zealanders the Galaxy S4 was coming, and it was a real buzz when it became apparent that we had achieved that.


What would you do differently if you did this campaign over again?
Nothing. The stars just seemed to align. The stupidity of spending two weeks outside an Apple store was fresh in consumers’ minds. People were looking to change. We had a simple idea, the right team, and the tech came through.

We wouldn’t have wanted more time and there’s not much you can do about the weather.