Samsung Receives Editorial Smackdown for ALS Newsjacking Stunt

Newsjacking and the ALS ice bucket challenge were two of the big topics on this little blog last week, and on Friday Samsung and its in-house creative/marketing teams in the UK managed to combine them both in this ad (which somehow earned the “alcoholic drinks” tag on our sister site Ads of the World).

You’ll have to forgive us for failing to notice most of the ALS posts appearing in our feeds recently; they all start to blend together pretty quickly unless you happen to know the people involved. But this little play for attention was noteworthy in that it inspired something we never see: an editorial wag of the finger via TechCrunch.

Three million views is a fair number for such a large brand, but we’re more interested in two particular critiques of this not-quite-real-time-marketing stunt.

First: TechCrunch, a must-read blog that still nurtures a reputation for reprinting press releases (not that we’d know anything about that) and hewing to the tech industry’s own self-driven narrative, made a good point.

We’re not going to hate on the ice bucket trend because it has managed to raise millions to fight a terrible disease and we have miraculously managed to avoid watching and celebrity versions of the challenge save for Chris Pratt’s, aka the only one you needed to watch in the first place.

But co-opting a charity movement to promote a specific product over a competitor’s extremely similar product? That is the worst possible way to make use of the meme beyond, say, Donald Sterling challenging Steve Ballmer. We frankly don’t care how much money Samsung donated because it’s all pennies in a (dry) bucket to those guys.

Also — and this one is particularly amusing: note that the phone’s battery immediately drops from 64 percent to 54 percent around the seven second mark, right as the water hits. YouTube viewers noticed and used what seems like a case of poor editing to restate their number one criticism of the product itself: a terrible battery life.

We hope Samsung enjoyed those clicks. In terms of brand identity and business credibility, they weren’t worth much.