On a list of “Signs Your Company is in Hot Water,” one would imagine that having your product specifically banned as a potential bomb threat on all major airlines would land in the top ranks. Such is the case of Samsung and the Galaxy Note 7, which has become notorious for its explosive tendencies. Unsurprisingly, the two consecutive recalls and eventual discontinuation of the Note 7 has led to a slew of negative consequences for Samsung, including a 32% decline in market share since 2013, with 18% of which having dropped in the past quarter alone.
Explosive electronics have not been Samsung’s only recent woe. Over the past few months, yet another scandal has alleged that an advisor to South Korean President Park Geun-hye potentially accepted hefty bribes in exchange for approval of a merger that would give Samsung’s apparent heir, Jay Y. Lee, more control. And to cap it all off, the tech giant’s industry is only becoming more competitive, with Huawei on the rise, Google’s Pixel entering the scene, and rumors buzzing around Apple’s 10th Anniversary iPhone 8.
So it’s no shock that yesterday’s release of the Galaxy S8 and S8+ are being called Samsung’s most important release in years, or maybe ever. Let’s take a look at how the company is aiming to make it count.
Samsung’s two new devices boast an array of specs (and, hopefully, no explosions) presented with breathtaking design. The phones feature:
Cleaning the slate
Samsung’s first step in rebuilding its tarnished brand was a straightforward one: the company took out full newspaper ads in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal to apologize for its Note 7 debacle. The notes were simple and intimate, written directly from North America President and Chief Executive Gregory Lee to customers.
Then, in January 2017, it began to set the stage for its S8 release by running TV ads emphasizing its new, thorough testing procedures and 8-point battery check. The ads aimed to reassure customers of the brand’s quality and craftsmanship – but were wisely dialed back closer to the actual release to avoid immediate association of the new model with safety issues. Ahmad Badr, strategy director at Siegel+Gale, described as the move as “a smart and bold promotional tactic to dissipate any fears on product malfunctions.”
Samsung’s attempt at a graceful transition from explosions and scandal onto bigger, brighter things comes in the form of its heightened focus on new innovations. This is a good bet given consumers’ generally short attention spans, and its first steps seem to be hitting all the right notes with consumers thus far. Samsung’s TV ad campaign, which features an ostrich successfully taking flight (with the help of VR) among other iterations, has been well-received since its release.
Only time will tell whether Samsung’s careful damage control will float it back to its pre-scandal market position, but its deft marketing moves have certainly pointed it in the right direction.