Samsung's tired Christmas message: Hey stupid, buy our phones

It's been an invigorating year for Samsung. So, at its end, Samsung releases a message that is, well, a little primitive.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer

A little too basic?

Screenshot by ZDNet

Samsung's bravery is often enjoyable.

The company has continuously shown its proclivity to go out on a limb, and should that limb break, Samsung hurtles right back into the fray with barely a discernible limp.

This year, Samsung managed its high and low point all with the same product.

It released the Galaxy Fold, a truly inspirational folding phone. Sadly, when it was launched, it folded a little too readily and a little too completely.

Samsung offered its excuses, fiddled with a few things, and re-released the Fold to some acclaim. When I went to an AT&T store to try it, I found it remarkably alluring.

I fear, though, that as the year ends, Samsung is tired out. It's tried and tried to be innovative. Now, it has nothing left to say. Now, it really wants a rest and please could you buy a few more phones.

I judge this from its 2019 swansong, an ad that is less an enticement to buy and more a Munch's scream for mercy.

This, you see, is an ad for Samsung's A-series of phones. They're a little cheaper and, some might say, a margin dumber. You'd think, though, that Samsung would find an uplifting way of making them alluring.

In a way, it has. But when it comes to the messaging, I fancy the Korean handset maker's marketing boss sat back, bleary-eyed, and declared: "Let's just shout some basic product benefits over and over again. It's kids who buy these cheap phones. Kids do stupid things all day. They laugh at inane memes and get high. There's no point trying too hard here, and, you know what, I'm beat."

And so it is that Samsung released, well, this. An ad for the ages and definitely not for the aged.

It is, indeed, quite awesome.

You'll surely have concluded, too, that the message is: "Awesome screen. Awesome camera. Long-lasting battery life."

It's delivered with the help of memes galore and a manic energy level. What more could kids want?

I worry, though, about the message. "Awesome screen, awesome camera, long-lasting battery life" seems to describe every single phone that's been released over the last few years. (Except for the Fold, of course.) Why would kids sink to this one?

If you treat kids as such facile stimulus-response beings, you might be missing their keen awareness of all things tech.

"Awesome screen, awesome camera, long-lasting battery life" is the minimum anyone expects from a phone these days. This ad, therefore, seems to scream: "Hey stupid, we can't think of anything to say about this phone, so we couched it in a cool ad and hoped you wouldn't notice."

Then again, perhaps kids everywhere are chanting this ad's lyrics to themselves over and over again. Perhaps they're walking into their homes and rapping it at the dinner table, begging their parents to buy them one of these things.


I hope that Samsung's marketing people take a rest over the next couple of weeks and come back next year, ready to inspire the world with a new Fold and, who knows, a fridge that gives us a tan if we stand in front of it.

I hope that you, too, have a restful couple of weeks after this year of madness. Or, as Samsung might put it, please have awesome holidays, awesome gifts, and a long-lasting, well, life.

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