Another interesting revelation from the ongoing Apple vs Samsung patent trial: concerned about launching attack ads on a company that was a customer as well as a competitor, Samsung sought to persuade Google to “launch a campaign against Apple.”

The then CEO of Samsung Telecommunications America, Dale Sohn, emailed his chief marketing officer to ask:

As you have shared previously, we are unable to battle [Apple] directly in our marketing. If it continues to be Samsung’s position to avoid attacking Apple given its status as as a large customer, can we go to Google to ask them to launch a campaign against Apple based on the many better Android products available in the market for Q4?

Three months before the launch of the iPhone 5, Sohn described it as a “tsunami,” reports The Verge.

“As you know, there will be a tsunami when iPhone 5 is coming. This will be happening sometime in September or October,” Sohn warned in a message dated June 5, 2012. “According to CEO’s direction, we have to set up a counter plan to neutralize this tsunami,” he added, referring to JK Shin, the head of Samsung’s mobile business.

Samsung clearly overcame its concerns about directly attacking Apple, running the Next Big Thing ads which directly mocked Apple customers. Documents earlier made public in the trial revealed that Apple’s senior VP of marketing Phil Schiller was so concerned about these ads that he considered changing ad agency to counter them.

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28 Responses to “Samsung wanted Google to do its dirty work in attacking Apple”

  1. Dave Huntley says:

    The bizarre thing about Samsung’s mocking ads, is that they don’t really bring in customers from the Apple fold, it just reinforces those customers they already have. There’s a serious flaw there for what they aim to do. The truth is they want people lining up for themselves, but since they fail to do that, they get snipey and sound like jealous babies. I am not sure Schiller had much to worry about.
    It’s no different to the once shrill advertising/designer that HTC had, maybe still has, that went around making wild comments all the time, but often repeated the phrase that one day she wanted to be like Apple and produce solidly designed phones… So question is, why would you buy her work in progress, you’d have to wait until she was done her training.

    It’s all a little bizarre. As for Samsung though, if you have ever been to Korea, their antics make more sense. First and foremost most Koreans are xenophobic and don’t like foreigners, you get many hard stares. Second, it’s choc-a-block with fakes, many more obvious that China. Lotte World is a complete rip off of Disneyland, just google their picture. Car brands there make many rip off cars, like the Korean Mini, the list goes on. So surrounded by that, you can see why they are the way they are…


    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      I agree, it’s an odd ad tactic if you want to win customers from Apple. Perhaps existing customers get to feel smug, but it does, as you suggest, seem a rather limited return on the investment.


    • yuniverse7 says:

      While i detest Samsung, I do have to say your generalization of everything Korea is exaggerated. I agree about how they used to be xenophobic but it’s not because they ‘don’t like’ foreigners anymore. It’s because they are timid in front of someone they have to speak English to – which most are not good at. I’ll give you Lotte World argument. As for the Korean Mini, it’s actually Korean division of BMW that produces the Mini there in Korea.


  2. Given Samsung’s market share amongst Android OEM’s, it would not be a bad thing to expect majority of folks switching from iOS to Android would end up picking a Samsung device. Then again, would you as a company claim that your USP was a software not made by you yourself :)


  3. I personally think Samsung’s attack ads fell flat. I wasn’t one of those people who was camping in line, but I do love technology. I also don’t attend rooftop parties/concerts like in Verizon commercials, because those don’t actually exist. Therefore, all I see is a company trying to win my business by mocking consumers who they wish were theirs. It actually made me stop considering their products, because I didn’t want to be associated with jerks.


  4. drbobm4 says:

    Being old and crotchety, I had a more exaggerated reaction. I won’t buy a Korean product of any kind and will go out of my way to avoid Korean Airlines. Next to Philippinos and Romanians, I consider consider Korea to be the most morally corrupt place in the world. Well, and maybe Texas


  5. herb02135go says:

    I enjoy Samsung’s ads as they cleverly point out features that Apple doesn’t have.
    That’s Ad 101.

    It was such an ad that made me, an iPhone user, wonder what I was missing. That led me to becoming a Samsung customer.

    So to those who say the ads don’t work, that’s false.

    I agree that Texas is corrupt.


    • It’s OK to tell your story as a consumer target, but please don’t talk about Ad 101 because you have no clue about it. Samsung ads had no effect gaining market, that’s why marketing is above advertising. The real numbers coming after a campain research are the only truth, and in that scenario you are the 0.001%.


  6. scumbolt2014 says:

    Hope this is Apple’s new tagline:

    “iPhone 6, the next tsunami is here.”


  7. scumbolt2014 says:

    Samsung’s new campaign:

    “Buy one get one free because our phones have no value and are just a commodity for the carriers to get you signed up. Suckers.”


  8. hazinf says:

    While in the States last month, I saw the latest of Samsung’s attack ads, where they not only went after the iPad, but also the Kindle and the Surface.

    It just made Samsung users look like smug tw*ts.


  9. rafalb177 says:

    That is exactly why they’re called Shamesung.


  10. 1) Apple probably went for Samsung in the first place as the Korean giant is its major supplier. As such, Samsung has access to the time line and product development informations of new Apple products coming- month by month and not just year by year.

    2) This time-line of development schedule and etc would be easier for Apple to show that Samsung has exactly been able to copy the concepts etc as much as possible.

    3) While Samsung might not have brought out new products earlier than Apple’s new features. However the fast way that ‘similar’ features show up in Samsung products-phones-tablets-OS etc all are more than just UNCANNY. It is like how is one corporate could do this type of ‘duplication’ so soon again and again and again and again…. A few times, yes, but every time is not just coincidental given that Samsung has access to the development cycles of many components of Apple’s products.

    4) Google, on the other hand, is not a major supplier to Apple and indeed hardly any. The only way that Apple could nail Google as far as Android is concerned is the fact that Eric Schmidt was on the board of Apple throughout most of the years of the development of iPhone. And even when it’s clear to all, after the event, that Google had been working on Android which was a clear competition to Apple iPhone in 2007 to the release of Android in 2008, Eric Schmidt did not step down from Apple’s board. Indeed, I believe he continued to be present at board meeting when iPhone was discussed after iPhone was released.

    5) I also believe that software is not as firm in term of copyright as hardware features. Patents are not awarded to software I believe. On top of that, Apple would not want to disclose its software features in details vs Android and Windows. After all, what makes Apple iOS and OS so affectionally loved by most users are something that Android and Windows could not match on most fronts.

    6) Hence Apple is left with only Samsung, the main competitor and one of its main suppliers that have clear knowledge of Apple’s product development details and timeline to point finger at. This is logical as far as I could see for Apple to take Samsung to the court.

    7) Google, using the strategy of U-boat Wolf-Pack in allowing all kinds of OEM’s to make Android products without charging them a cent for the use of Android, would not have cared for the fate of Samsung or any OEM at all whatsoever. Why?

    8) We all know that the more there are participants in an industry especially in a brand new segment, the higher likelihood that the whole industry would be in carnage in term of losses for the bulk of the players. This was so in the early days of the oil industry. The evidences are there when the barrier to entrance is small as for making Android phones-tablets as extracting oil in the old days, huge number of participants means no one would make any decent profit and the bulk of players will be losing money instead.

    9) Google only cared and cares about Android taking the dominant market share in the mobile device segment. It costs them nothing as they were not in hardware business before they got Motorola. This type of attitude of SACRIFICING the OEM’s as a whole for the sake of gaining market share by Google is consistent with Google’s lack of respect for the privacy of users of its services such as Google Map, G-Mail etc, Youtube….

    11) If Google had only selected a dozen or so OEM to make Android devices and the gaining of market share over Apple iOS would still be achieved. All these dozen OEM’s would have been making good profits instead of losing huge amount for the first few years of Android and still suffer from low profitability even now. If this had happened, Samsung would not have had the need to be DESPERATE in trying to out-do Apple, in some cases, openly and blatantly to the average users. (BTW, the court jury panel is a selection of Average People in the community). Samsung could have been less aggressive but it has had to be aggressive with fellow scores of Android device makers such as HTC as well against Apple.

    12) Google of course would NOT help Samsung at all even if Samsung begged Google for it. If Samsung has been seen by many as nothing but a copy-cat of highest order, it has both itself to blame and Google to blame.

    13) I hope that MSFT do not copy Google’s predatory attitude in gaining market share at all cost including sacrificing the OEM’s in regard to Windows mobile devices and pc itself.

    14) The whole Android-Samsung-Apple iPhone-iPad saga has been displays of the best and the worst in corporate ethics, corporate strategy, and personal integrity as senior people in any organisations. Will Google be seen as a ‘decent’ corporate citizen and would senior people in Google be seen as of ‘high integrity’ in 20 years time when the dust is settled? Well, it is up to all of us to think about it…..


  11. Thats the DNA of every Korean they cheat, copy and then back stab you.