Samsung, in four years under U.S. marketing leader Todd Pendleton, went from an also-ran to a household name.
With "The Next Big Thing Is Here" campaign in 2011, which slyly punched up at Apple; ads featuring Jay-Z and LeBron James in 2013; and, of course, the Internet-melting selfie Ellen DeGeneres took at the Oscars in 2014, Samsung—via agencies such as 72andSunny and Starcom—became a market leader and coveted brand. And Pendleton, chief marketing officer for mobile products, found himself in the middle of it all.
So, Friday's news of his departure is somewhat surprising, even though Samsung is in the midst of hiring new marketing leaders and shifting its Texas operations to New York. Pendleton, previously a global brand communications director at Nike, will leave the electronics giant next month. Here are some highlights of his tenure:
The 2013 Super Bowl Push
A teaser ad featuring Seth Rogan, Paul Rudd and Bob Odenkirk poked fun at the copyright prohibitions around the Super Bowl, and the Big Game went meta, lampooning other marketers' ideas (thanks to pre-game releases) and plotting the creation of an ad starring LeBron James.
Teaming Up With LeBron
Through ads and apps, the relationship makes basketball superhero James seem more relatable as a family man and puts Samsung in a league with a world-class athlete and winner. This 2013 ad epitomizes that exchange:
The Jay-Z Connection
This partnership was expensive—costing Samsung an estimated $5 million—but has burnished the brand's pop culture bonafides. On the cusp of Jay-Z's release of Magna Carta Holy Grail in 2013, consumers accessed online video of the making of the album and downloaded copies before anyone else.
TV Show Tie-Ins
Via integrations and live commercials, the brand became ubiquitous on entertaining shows such as The Voice, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and The Late Late Show.
The Next Big Thing is Here
This sly shot across the bow at Apple began in late 2011 and took off the following year with six more ads. The tagline remains and has distinguished the brand as innovative, and less pretentious than its beloved rival.
The World’s Most Famous Selfie
When Ellen DeGeneres first pulled out the phone during the 2014 Academy Awards, its presence felt overly commercial. But when Ellen improvised and took this high-wattage selfie, actors seemed goofy like you and I. And then when she challenged the viewing audience to re-tweet the image, everyone responded big time.