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SG S8

Samsung introduced its new phones, the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ on March 29, 2017. Source: Google Images

Since its 2016 smartphone crisis, we’ve been waiting to see what Samsung’s next move would be. Due to a design flaw that made many Galaxy Note 7 smartphones spontaneously catch fire, Samsung has had to recall over 3 million phones, which led to an approximate $5.5 billion loss to the company, according to a recent AdWeek article. Now, six months later, the company launched its new and improved smartphones, the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, along with a robust marketing campaign.

Since the Galaxy Note 7 issue, Samsung has worked hard to regain consumers’ trust and learn from its mistakes. The company has developed an eight-point battery safety check for its new products, and has also created focus groups of previous Galaxy Note 7 users to take their input into account. Marc Mathieu, the company’s North America CMO believes the company may not have done many of the positive things it has recently done if it wasn’t for the “bump in the road last year,” according to the AdWeek article.

Along with the launch of its new Smartphones, Samsung is launching its most significant marketing campaign yet. The marketing campaign, created with agencies such as R/GA, Turner Duckworth, Leo Burnett and Wieden + Kennedy, will follow a theme of “very human and very real” subjects, according to Mr. Mathieu in the AdWeek article.

The marketing campaign is expected to go out in three phases over the next few months. The first phase is comprised of a serious of nature-focused commercials in which the phone seems to blend in with beautiful, peaceful nature backdrops – emphasizing the phone’s infinity screen and the lack of boundaries “between the phone and the world around you,” as Mathieu puts it in the AdWeek article.

This spot is from Samsung’s “Do What You Can’t” campaign to promote its new Galaxy S8 and S8+ phones. Source: YouTube

The second and third phases of the marketing campaign will focus on normal every-day people and those who use the phone to create digital content. These will include the “Do What You Can’t” campaign and the continued use of YouTube-famous filmmaker Casey Neistat as a spokesperson to deliver the “The Rest of Us” messages. These communicate a sense of empowerment and inspiration to make meaningful video content using only a phone and to do things you didn’t think you could. Additional partnerships with YouTube content creators are likely to be revealed later in the marketing campaign.

Even armed with this unique and zealous marketing campaign, Samsung still has many hurdles to get over as it recovers from the Galaxy Note 7 crisis. While existing Samsung smartphone owners are likely able to get past this and view it as a one-time incident, the company might have a tougher time convincing new or potential Samsung users that it’s products are trustworthy and of quality. This is especially true as Samsung is kicking off a year of flagship phone launches, with Apple and Google expected to launch their new phones in the fall of this year. Typically, when a company launches a new flagship phone, they do not feel the need to explain to consumers the design and component decisions taken behind the scenes, and instead let the features of the phone sell the product. In Samsung’s case, however, before the company can effectively market the phone’s new features, such as updated cameras, iris and facial recognition and an infinity screen, it will need to assure users that the new designs will not result in a hand-held fire.

So while Samsung faces a tough road, it seems on its way to regaining user trust and proving the quality of its products with the support of its large marketing campaign.

From a marketing management perspective, here are some questions to consider:

  • What market(s) does it seem Samsung is targeting with its new Galaxy S8 and S8+ marketing campaign?
  • What methods might Samsung use to determine the effectiveness of its marketing campaign in regaining consumer trust?
  • Research another company that has emerged from a brand-damaging crisis. What types of marketing strategies did it use?