"The next big thing is here."
Number of staff
Suwon, South Korea
Samsung is one of the few brands to have successfully carved out a credible, values-led core purpose in today’s marketplace, which is full of hard-bitten consumers. Its philosophy is “to devote its talent and technology to creating superior products and services that contribute to a better global society”. And consumers appear to back this thinking, judging by the fact that Samsung has been placed highly in Interbrand’s Best Global Brands in 2014 and a survey carried out by YouGov in 2013 to find the “most-admired global brand”, among other ‘brand-strength’ lists in recent years.
But the first incarnation of Samsung had nothing to do with electronics – the South Korean business, founded by Byung-Chull Lee, the son of a wealthy landowner, started out exporting dried fish, vegetables and fruit. The company was characterised by its bold ambition and expanded into flour mills and confectionery just over a decade later.
From 1958, Samsung went on the acquisition trail, starting with the takeover of Ankuk Fire & Marine Insurance in 1958. But it wasn’t until 1969 that Samsung-Sanyo Electronics was founded, finally becoming Samsung Electronics in 1977, boosted by the burgeoning home-electronics market.
The company first sold black-and-white TVs, followed by washing machines, fridges, colour TVs and microwave ovens. By 1981, it had made one million colour TVs and two years later it began manufacturing personal computers.
In 1988, Samsung Electronics merged with Samsung Semiconductor & Telecommunications Co, and home appliances, telecoms and semiconductors were identified as core growth categories. Soon, in 1991, Samsung launched its first mobile phone handset.
The following year, Business Week named Samsung Electronics as the No 1 IT company globally, a testament to its relentless innovation and continually advancing consumer tech.
In 1995, Samsung set up its European marketing headquarters in Brentford, London, to liaise between the global marketing HQ in Korea and its regional operations, which implemented local campaigns. But a significant restructure of Samsung’s marketing operations in the late 1990s saw the 17-strong marketing team in Brentford axed as part of a cost-cutting exercise, amid a drive to make advertising more relevant on a country basis.
However, the brand’s relentless innovation showed no sign of slowing, and in the years that followed it cemented its reputation for pioneering technology, particularly in smart TVs and phones. In 2000, for instance, it launched the world’s first mobile phone with built-in TV at the Sydney Olympic Games.
Its innovation has not been limited to products, however. The same pioneering attitude has been applied to marketing and, in particular, partnerships and sponsorships, which have included Chelsea FC (2005), the Olympics (2007), Girls Aloud (2007), Heathrow charging units (2009), the Rightmove app (2011), David Beckham (2011), and England Rugby (2015). And this appetite for marketing shows no signs of abating: Samsung was TV’s most-advertised brand by airtime in March 2016, racking up 2486 minutes – more than 41 hours – of advertising across terrestrial and pay TV.
129 Samsung-Ro, Maetan-3dong, Yeongton-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do, Korea
Marc Mathieu, chief marketing officer, Samsung Electronics America
David Lowes, chief marketing officer, Samsung Europe
Russell Taylor, vice-president corporate marketing UK, Samsung Electronics
James Eadie, UK brand and communications director, Samsung Electronics UK