Matthew Miller
Jan 10, 2014

Weekly wrapup: Samsung's series of fails, a fresh ad for mints, more

ASIA-PACIFIC - We have a tie for the 'FTW' title this week, but there's no question about the 'fail': It's Samsung, for a whole string of poor decisions. Plus, the week's most-read articles and a few mood-altering distractions for your Friday afternoon.

Samsung's ad for Galaxy Gear: Oh dear
Samsung's ad for Galaxy Gear: Oh dear

FTW or fail

Each week we select one campaign or marketing move that we agree is 'FTW' (for the win) and one that...isn't.

FTW: A tie between the brilliantly serious and the brilliantly ridiculous. On the serious side, we're very impressed with the impact Clemenger BBDO Wellington makes in its PSA for the New Zealand Transport Agency (first video below, our coverage here). We're equally impressed by Ogilvy & Mather Hong Kong's spot for Rio Mints (second video below), the first in a series sure to stand out in a normally conservative advertising climate.


Fail: Samsung, for a whole series of failures.

We're not even talking about Michael Bay's spectacular flameout at CES—that wasn't really the brand's fault. Instead we present three pieces of evidence: two awful ads and one horribly handled social-media incident. (All the evidence dates back to December, and technically this is supposed to be a wrapup of this week, but we were off duty for a while and these are all so bad they deserve special treatment.) 

Exhibit A: An intensely creepy long-form ad for the company's smart watch, featuring a snowboarder who stalks a woman on the slopes and eventually wins her heart through amazing feats of personal-electonics prowess. Controversy is raging in our office as to whether the brand is being intentionally over-the-top (the 'So bad it's good' hypothesis) or actually believes the ad shows a plausible scenario (the 'WTF are they thinking?' hypothesis).

Regardless, there's no way it convinced anybody to buy the watch—which may be an impossible task in any case. But it sure did generate a lot of ridicule. To us, the most astonishing thing is how the dope in the ad fails to obtain the woman's adoration mainly because he's saddled with a smartphone—Samsung's most important product. Since when is undermining your cash cow a good strategy?    


Exhibit B: Hey, these kids live in a blighted, poor neighborhood. But everything's going to be A-OK because Messi came in and leveled some buildings to build them better homes, or maybe a world-class school. No, sorry. It's a (fake-looking) football pitch. Just what they needed! Zachary M. Seward put it eloquently on Quartz:

...the ad is exploitative, classist, and just plain tone-deaf. The idea that Samsung’s very expensive electronics are going to lift these kids out of poverty—or even brighten their day, if that’s the point—is just offensive.


Exhibit C: A Canadian gentleman's new Galaxy S4 smoked and melted while charging, nearly starting a fire. He posted a YouTube video discussing the incident. The company responded not with a quick mea culpa nor an offer to make it right, but a draconian legal document trying to silence him and get him to remove the video. Mashable has the details.

Samsung ended up looking like a bully (again) and managed to create the impression that it has something to hide. (It doesn't. When you sell umpteen million phones, a few defective units are inevitable, and there's no evidence this is a widespread problem). To top it off, Microsoft/Nokia swooped in to benefit from the situation by sending the guy a free Windows phone.


Top stories

The most-read items on for the week of 3 through 9 January.

1. OMD China CEO SiewPing Lim resigns
2. 2013 in review: Top campaigns, turkeys, breakups, hires and comebacks
3. Garnier to exit China; suffers same fate as Revlon
4. Digital measurement in Asia Pacific: A reality check
5. Death of the digital creative agency: The pre-roll
6. 2013 in review: Top PR disasters, deals, controversies and more
7. Pepsi appoints digital agency in Indonesia
8. Phil Talbot joins DWA board
9. Dentsu Greater China formalises communication-planning unit
10. Asian champions of design: Shanghai Tang


A few items that crossed our glowing screens this week, most of which are at least tangentially related to marketing.

1. Kudos to Hong Leong Bank, together with We are KIX, for using science in a fun promotional event involving 8000 litres of non-Newtonian fluid. Wish we'd been there!


2. We can't imagine a better OOH ad for a steakhouse. (Via Gizmodo)


3. In case you missed it during the festive season, Quietroom, a branding agency in the UK, spent a lot of time on this very funny brand book for 'santaclaus global enterprises incorporated'. Here's but one the slides, a matrix comparing 'Santa*' and competitors on the basis of 'beardiness' and 'fatiness' (note the line for the various weights of Elvis). We strongly encourage you to read the whole glorious thing. (Via Adweek)


4. Jaguar strikes back at the famous Mercedes ad that featured level-headed chickens. A little late to the party, but still funny.


That's it, have a great week ahead, and thanks for reading Campaign Asia-Pacific.


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