Samsung has a new commercial out touting its Galaxy S5 smartphone as a better choice than Apple's iPhone, but the real message behind the ad is that Samsung is afraid of a phone that's still nothing more than a rumor. When your ad says "please don't buy an iPhone," there's a problem with your marketing.
The commercial starts off with a guy saying, "Dude! iPhone may be getting a bigger screen," then moves into a defensive stance:
You know that thing you've been waiting on for like two years and how it's supposed to be awesome and how it's going to blow your mind? Well, it's been here this whole time. But maybe you just like waiting.
Samsung is saying it already has a bigger screen smartphone, but the overshadowing message is that the company is worried about competing with a product Apple hasn't even been confirmed yet. Instead of sending a message that says "We're innovative," Samsung is saying "Please don't buy an iPhone."
Contrast that to Apple's ads that focus on enhancing our lives without mentioning product specifications, or even the company name. The company's just released "Stickers" ad for the MacBook Air is a great example, as is the iPhone 5S "Parenthood" commercial. Or the "Strength" ad, or "Powerful."
In Apple's ads, you see people using iPhones in exciting an inspiring ways; the message is positive. Samsung, however, is stuck in a pattern where it compares its products to Apple's. In this case, it also smacks of desperation, or at least a lack of faith in their own products.
Rumors claim Apple will release a 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch version of the iPhone in September. So far, we've seen some evidence to back up the idea of at least the 4.7-inch model thanks to a video scratch test.
Samsung's ads also come across as negative and mean spirited with their comparisons, which is a line Apple chose not to cross when it was into comparison ads years ago with its "I'm a Mac" commercials. In that popular ad series, Apple portrayed Mac and PC computers as people with a more light hearted approach to feature comparisons. The end result was a series of fun and entertaining ads that made the Mac seem friendly and approachable.
Contrast that with Samsung's ads that denigrate iPhone owners and even claim Apple's smartphone is inferior because it doesn't ship with a stylus. For Samsung, it isn't about highlighting the value its products bring to consumers, and instead about saying "We're as good as Apple."
For Apple, the Samsung message is that the iPhone is the smartphone all others are compared to. With a mix that holds the iPhone as the smartphone to match plus a mean spirited nature, maybe the real message for Samsung is that it's time to find a new ad agency.