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Having just returned from the annual CES convention in Las Vegas, Benjamin Braun, Samsung’s European chief marketing officer, is excited about the technology he saw on display. Yet he’s also not entirely convinced by the interest around artificial intelligence tool ChatGPT that has captured the business world’s attention.
Describing it as “fun,” Braun does believe in the power of AI and its potential for helping marketers. In fact, he said Samsung “saves a lot of money” in Europe using AI to create its various digital banner ads that run across platforms including TikTok, Instagram and Spotify.
“We were paying agencies so much money to do all of that,” Braun told Adweek. “It figures out what works for what social platform and it creates all of these different variations, and automatically publishes them for us as well.”
Whatever the customer needs, as a brand, we need to build that.
Benjamin Braun, Europe CMO, Samsung
Braun said automating that work has allowed the company to move employees to new projects “rather than sitting doing mundane, repetitive tasks.”
Of the gadgets on display this year, he was impressed by the smart toilet device from Withins called U-Scan that does a health check based on urine samples.
On the return of physical events as the pandemic wanes, Braun believes “the sweet spot” is to have both virtual and in-person elements to help engage people who have an interest but cannot be there.
“There’s a beauty of doing it virtually because then you can select what you want to do when you want to do it,” he said. “In the past, CES would be an exclusive forum where people who got a ticket could go. Now it’s open to all. That hybrid solution appeals to me.”
Serenity in an always-on world
Alongside delivering a message about sustainable living, Jong-Hee Han, vice chairman, CEO and head of device experience at Samsung Electronics, shared his vision for the company at CES: to deliver on the promise of the connected experience across the key touch points in consumers’ lives—in homes, cars and at work.
The strategy was summarized by the company as “bringing calm to our connected world.”
That commitment was on view at the SmartThings Station inside CES. There, Samsung demonstrated how its products can automate different aspects of the home environment to save time, energy and money, all aspects that are likely to feature in its marketing communications during a turbulent economic period.
Braun highlighted a couple of examples of sustainable progress, such as solar TV remotes that will “prevent millions of batteries ending up in landfills” and its AI washing machines, which check the load weight and feature dirt detectors. It then washes for an appropriate length of time rather than sticking to one standard setting.
Marketing departments do need to start taking a more scientific approach rather than relying on gut feeling.
Benjamin Braun, Europe CMO, Samsung
He claimed that running a Samsung washing machine for 220 washes throughout a whole year would cost a household just €12.
As part of its sustainability commitment, Samsung has removed all color printing on the company’s TV packaging, introduced paper tape and is using recycled aluminum in product components.
A positive stance despite difficulties
Samsung is not immune to challenging economic times. The world’s biggest seller of TVs revealed a 69% decline in operating profit during the final quarter of last year. Braun believes consumers will still buy themselves “a small luxury” to offset the big things they cannot buy, the so-called lipstick effect.
One lesson Braun has learned from the pandemic is that “customers still need to be served.”
“People still want their TVs and refrigerators and ovens and tablets. With three kids to homeschool, we had to get three tablets quickly and you can’t tell people, ‘Oh, it’s going to take eight weeks to get it.’ People need it tomorrow,” he said. “Whatever the customer needs, as a brand, we need to build that.”
Developing an econometric focus
As marketers are likely to see more scrutiny of their roles and marketing spend in the coming months, Braun offered a piece of advice that has served him well at both Audi and now Samsung: take the econometrics route.
“Marketing departments do need to start taking a more scientific approach rather than relying on gut feeling,” he said. “However, this isn’t to say there’s no room for instinct. Quite the opposite. Sometimes your gut is filled with enough data and insights, and you can take that leap. This is what I refer to as ‘gut knowledge.’
“We need to elevate ourselves as marketers by proving our campaigns are impacting sales. And we need to think about ourselves as not just a creative team, but as one that generates three things: excitement for a brand; consideration for the product; and finally, the conversion of that brand love into sales. Only then will we gain credibility in the boardroom.”