Samsung beats Apple in hype with its Heathrow claims

"You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time." Abraham Lincoln

Samsung is a marketing machine. It has built its huge smartphone empire on the back of other people's ideas, deep product subsidies and its own helpless hype.


Facts and non-facts

Just take a look at its latest adventure in hyperbole-space: Samsung claimed to be rebranding Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5 in the UK. But this simply isn't true.

From the release:

"16th May 2014, London, UK – Samsung is set to dominate the world's busiest terminal by rebranding Heathrow Terminal 5 as 'Terminal Samsung Galaxy S5.' The activity, in conjunction with JCDecaux Airport, is set to raise awareness of Samsung's flagship mobile and is the first time Heathrow has permitted a brand takeover of Terminal 5."

"The revolutionary two-week campaign, which kicks off on 19 May, sees Samsung take over the signage, wayfinding, website and every single digital screen at the UK's newest terminal to promote the launch of its iconic Galaxy S5 mobile. Reaching the thousands of passengers who travel through the terminal each day, this extraordinary partnership will take Samsung brand awareness to a whole new level."

Despite the press release being uncritically repeated by a horde of Websites, these claims are false. In reality, Samsung is doing something far less impressive, as iMore discovered.

"Heathrow Terminal 5's signage and passenger wayfinding has not changed," a Heathrow spokesperson told iMore. "Samsung have rented advertising space in Terminal 5 with a tongue-in-cheek campaign using the line: 'Terminal Samsung Galaxy S5'."

Are you a fool?

Contrast Samsung's attitude to truth with Apple. Apple's critics often claim Apple's success is based on marketing, but that's not true. Publishers know the company isn't a big advertiser. Sure, it runs a few high profile TV ad spots and ads for new products as they appear, but it is a veritable marketing minnow in contrast to the Samsung's hype machine.

For example, in 2012, Apple spent a billion dollars on advertising worldwide, while Samsung lavished an astonishing $4+ billion, according to Asymco.

Apple's ads tend to focus on the products, concentrating on their strengths and uses. They point out how its products can transform the way you live. The company values and respects its customers enough to let them make decisions based on true facts.

In other words, while Apple develops its own solutions and markets their advantages, Samsung's business is to emulate ("benchmark") other people's inventions and uses other people's software (Android) to create its solutions. Then it pushes these to market using a factually inconsistent hype-fuelled smoke machine.

This has worked well for Samsung. It dominates the smartphone sector. But as its latest Heathrow press release suggests, this dominance is based on an expectation that it can fool most of the people most of the time. That respectable news organizations (including TIME) repeat its claims uncritically is a betrayal of the trust readers place in journalists at those organizations to protect them from being fooled in this way.

These contrasting marketing styles underline that while Apple respects its customers, Samsung seems to think they are stupid enough to be fooled -- and an uncritical media colludes in this perception. When it comes to reality distortion, it is Samsung, not Apple, that must be bought down to Earth.

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