Samsung Caught Paying for Anonymous Bashing of HTC

| Analysis

Samsung has been caught paying for anonymous posts bashing Taiwanese rival HTC. Taiwan's Fair Trade Commission has launched an investigation after receiving complaints about the practice, and Samsung itself posted an apology for the instance.

Anonymous Posts

PC Advisor first spotted the news after Chinese-language site TaiwanSamsungLeaks (TSL) accused Samsung of "evil marketing." TSL posted documents from a local advertising firm allegedly hired by Samsung.

As part of the campaign, students were allegedly hired to bash HTC and praise Samsung smartphones in anonymous online comments. For instance, one user complained about a girlfriend's HTC One X and claimed that it crashed all the time. He also made posts claiming Samsung's Galaxy Note phablet was better than the HTC Sensation XL phablet.

Fake benchmarks were also posted showing that the Galaxy S3 had a longer battery life and better graphics performance than the HTC One X. Other comments simply praised Samsung and asked if Samsung devices had helped others earn job promotions.

To its credit, Samsung immediately owned up to the scandal and posted a statement apologizing for the campaign. The statement in full, as provided to CNet:

Samsung Electronics remains committed to engaging in transparent and honest communications with consumers as outlined in the company's Online Communications Credo. We have encouraged all Samsung Electronics employees worldwide to remain faithful to our Credo. The recent incident was unfortunate, and occurred due to insufficient understanding of these fundamental principles.

Samsung Electronics Taiwan (SET) has ceased all marketing activities that involve the posting of anonymous comments, and will ensure that all SET online marketing activities will be fully compliant with the company's Online Communications Credo.

We regret any inconvenience this incident may have caused. We will continue to reinforce education and training for our employees to prevent any future recurrence.

Rather than regretting any "inconvenience," Samsung may want to stop and question the corporate culture that could lead to a phony marketing campaign like this. There's no integrity in these actions, and it's a further demonstration of how the company pursues a win-at-all-costs strategy.

From internal documents that show Samsung executives saying their devices must both look and perform more like Apple's iPhone to be competitive, to a Samsung-endorsed celebrity in China who echoed a government attack against Apple under either the instructions of the Chinese government or Samsung itself, to this campaign, Samsung is demonstrating that it needs to do some corporate naval gazing.

Our friend Philip Elmer-Dewitt noted at Fortune that some have accused anonymous commenters at that magazine's site of being paid Samsung shills, but there's no proof of that, just as there's no proof that the celebrity implicated in the "post around 8:20" incident was acting on Samsung orders.

The reality is that doubters now have ammo. Even if the company wasn't behind those actions, the documented incidents are enough to give any healthy organization pause.

Samsung is a high profile and very profitable company, more so now because of its smartphone leadership than ever before. In my opinion, Samsung should seize the opportunity to lead by example and not stoop to such tactics as were revealed in Taiwan.

Image made with help from Shutterstock.

Comments

ilikeimac

I’m sure a cultural divide is at least partially to blame, but which part of their statement is an apology? They say the “incident was unfortunate”, these activities “have ceased”, future marketing “will be fully compliant” with their credo, and that they “regret any inconvenience”, which isn’t the same as regretting the action. The blame the action on unnamed employees, and only really take responsibility for poorly educating them. Samsung isn’t’ sorry they did this, they’re sorry they got caught.

ibuck

Bryan wrote:

There’s no integrity in these actions [/quote}

and this quality may transfer to the buyer. Samsung has demonstrated again and again their lack of integrity, and it makes one wonder if those who rate Samsung products highly have been (wink, wink) illicitly persuaded[‘i] to do so.

Michael

Samsung isn’t’ sorry they did this, they’re sorry they got caught.

In Japan the executives deeply bow apologetically…. After getting caught. See account of Olympus boss (a Brit).
Lots of bowing after Fukushima.
North Korea is a ‘regrettable’ situation… As was the kidnapping of Japanese children by North Korea 15 years ago.

Lots of saying sorry but how meaningful is it all?

So your observation is spot on IMHO.

xmattingly

Pfft. I agree with the consensus; they’re sorry they got caught.

All you need to know about Samsung’s code of ethics is the infamous “before & after iPhone” graphic Apple has used in court.

juanmarketing

2 insights:
- Don’t play with fire! Everything can be uncovered on the Internet!
- Good online Reviews are the more and more important above all in the Tech industry.

1 Conclusion: Be transparent and organic!

Lee Dronick

Inserting closing italic tag [/]

Lee Dronick

Damn! I screwed that up! it is a pain in the butt to do it on an iPad with the square brackets on the 3rd keyboard. Anyway, I will give it another shot

How does it look now?

IBagwan

Samsung continues to show their lack of ethics, they’re not sorry, they’re just spinning….

John Dingler, artist

Finally, Samsung is not copying Apple. Samsung’s top management is now confused: “Gee, are we now supposed to not copy Apple from not on? Must be a change of direction.”

Dace

Hey Brad where are you. Thought you would spring to defend your partner Sammy. Your absence has been noted…

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Hey Dace, I actually had a very witty guest comment that whatever filters wouldn’t let pass. Maybe Bryan can dig in and find it. For the record, Sammy is not my partner. You can find plenty of times here and elsewhere that I’ve been very critical of them. But I know some of you guys enjoy making crap up about what I supposedly think and assigning motives to timing of my posts. Weak sauce.

Dace

Personally I prefer HP

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