Samsung launches phones into space for 'selfies' campaign

European marketer Benjamin Braun's debut work uses no above-the-line media.

Samsung: mock-up of how backdrop to 'space selfie' will look
Samsung: mock-up of how backdrop to 'space selfie' will look

Samsung’s new brand campaign is inviting people to create their own "space selfie" after launching two of its Galaxy 10 smartphones into the edge of the world's atmosphere.

The phones will receive selfies from people transmitted from Earth and layer them over real-time shots of the planet, creating a bespoke and limited-edition "space selfie".

To coincide with the 50th anniversary of the moon landing (and 10th anniversary of the Galaxy smartphone range), the electronics giant is launching the social media and digital campaign to create love for the brand and show its commitment to innovation.

Model and actress Cara Delevingne will be the first person to have her photograph in space using one of two Galaxy phones that will float above the Earth in a giant helium balloon. Football star Zlatan Ibrahimovic will follow as the first athlete to have a "space selfie", and Samsung anticipates other requests from luminaries to be the "first" in their field to have the special photograph taken.

After registering on Samsung’s website and uploading their photograph, a "selfie" can be taken every three seconds from when the service launches after 23 October and until 31 October. 

The campaign, created by Bartle Bogle Hegarty London, is the first to be commissioned by Samsung’s chief marketing officer for Europe, Benjamin Braun, since he joined the company from Audi earlier this year.

Braun told Campaign that he hopes to see "lots of creativity unleashed" from the "SpaceSelfie" campaign. He said: "We want people to submit as creative selfies as possible of themselves. We don’t care what device they do it on; we are welcoming everyone in this.

"If we can drive love for Samsung, that would be fantastic – if we can get people to have Samsung at the front of mind in terms of awareness and consideration for when they need a new TV, washing machine or phone."

Samsung said it will guard against people using the initiative for nefarious ends, such as taking a "space selfie" of Adolf Hitler or nude images, with a mix of human and automated moderation.

Each picture taken will have its own serial number, so mischief makers that fake their own pictures can be caught. 

Samsung is launching a space rig carrying the phones between 21 and 23 October from South Dakota in the US. The craft will be carried by a super-pressure high-altitude helium balloon that is half the size of a basketball court.

The rig should be able to sustain 10 days in space before floating back down from up to 64,000 feet. The craft’s materials will be recycled and the phones, able to withstand -65°C temperatures, should be available for reuse back down on Earth.

Notably, there is no above-the-line advertising to promote "SpaceSelfie", with all activity on social media (through earned and influencer) and digital channels.

Braun (pictured, left) admits that there is "minimal spend" going on the campaign, but insists "a great idea should carry itself" regardless of marketing channel.

"It’s an idea which gives something back to everyone, not something for the select few," he added. "Since I arrived at Samsung, I’ve never seen such a relentless pursuit of innovation at any other company I’ve been at. And, for this campaign, we wanted real people to be part of that [innovation]. Our mantra is ‘Do what you can’t’ and getting your face in space is allowing Samsung to deliver that for everyone."

BBH led on strategy, creative development and execution for the campaign, driven by lead creatives Ben Edwards and Guy Hobbs. Samsung’s production partners for the campaign are Unit9 and FlightLine Films. FleishmanHillard is driving earned media and influencer activation, while Publicis Sport & Entertainment led on talent negotiations, with Starcom supporting paid media.

Will Lion, managing partner, strategy, at BBH London, noted that phone advertising had become "quite samey, all gleaming devices at beautiful angles with trendy photos".

He added: "We wanted a break in series; something that would demonstrate how epic Samsung’s phones are by helping people take the most amazing photo of their life – from space – and maybe just break the internet and power up sales ahead of Christmas." 

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