If you are looking for a shining example of a company that has created a consistent and very powerful brand philosophy, look no further than Samsung’s new “Do What You Can’t” marketing campaign. The campaign is based on the ideals of never being complacent, defying barriers, and ultimately achieving the impossible. Whether it’s via sharing stories of Winter Olympic glory for Korea or providing a platform to Casey Neistat and other content creators on YouTube, Samsung wants to exemplify its brand philosophy by showing what people can do. It’s a positive campaign designed to put the focus on you rather than the products Samsung sells.
Samsung has really struck a chord with their marketing campaign. Let’s take an in-depth look at how Samsung has created and leveraged this brand philosophy into such an effective marketing campaign.
Apple v. Samsung
Let’s dive into the eternal struggle between these two tech giants and compare an advertisement from both Apple’s and Samsung’s individual marketing campaigns. On Apple’s side, we have an ad for their iPad Pro called “What’s a Computer?” Then we have one of Samsung’s advertisement for their phone products called “Human Nature.”
The crux of Apple’s advertising is that iPad Pro can do everything that a laptop computer can and do it better and with more versatility to boot. This is illustrated when the precocious kid’s neighbor asks, “Whatcha doing on your computer?” to which the kid responds with, “What’s a computer?” Essentially, laptops are so outdated or obsolete that this kid doesn’t even know what a computer even is. However, many have felt that this commercial is condescending to the viewer and creates a false world where computers no longer exist.
Samsung’s “Human Nature” advertisement focuses on situations in which people fail or are told they “can’t” do something. Then we are shown moments of triumph and a gradual introduction of Samsung products that seem to be ancillary parts of the person’s success. All of the themes then merge to show an amputee finally being able to walk again after using the Samsung virtual reality gear.
The important takeaway is how these advertisements make people feel. Samsung’s message makes people feel empowered and triumphant whereas Apple’s advertisement rubs people the wrong way. Apple creates a needlessly forced paradigm that only exists in the advertisement’s world, not a legitimate shift in cultural attitudes. This artificial nature of the advertisement can often have the exact opposite effect the commercial was aiming for. It basically throws mud in the crystal-clear water.
Emotions Are the Foundation of Our Decision-Making
What makes Samsung’s campaign message of “Do What You Can’t” so successful? The bottom line is that it gives you emotional permission to unchain yourself from any and all of your limitations. It asks you to be innovative. It asks you to be different. It asks you to be yourself. This excites people and makes them associate their growth and success with the Samsung brand. As most marketers know, strong messaging is truly much more about the emotion than logic.
Sometimes a marketing campaign does not always have to make perfect sense. Take this “Do What You Can’t” campaign. Under more logical scrutiny, the campaign could be considered shallow. Samsung is simply trying to sell you their electronics and household appliances.
These products may be able to help you achieve your “impossible” goals but they are only a fraction of what goes into achieving them. You won’t succeed just because you have a Galaxy phone or a fridge with a screen on it. But that’s not the point. The very idea that you can “do what you can’t” is nonsensical, but it speaks to your subconscious. Samsung wants you to associate their company with innovation and success on a gut level.
The “Myth of Marketing” and the Inspiration Process
We don’t love brands because of their utility. We love them because of how the brand makes us feel. Many advertising agencies focus on research and statistics. However, most of our business decisions happen through our emotions and below the threshold of awareness in our unconscious.
Douglas Van Praet, author and founder of Unconscious Branding, created a 7-step process for inspiring customers through effective marketing.
- Interrupt the Pattern
- Create Comfort
- Lead the Imagination
- Shift the Feeling
- Satisfy the Critical Mind
- Change the Associations
- Take Action
Douglas’s process is about provoking the unconscious mind and then hooking the conscious mind with logical explanations as to why the consumer needs the product. The Samsung ad discussed earlier follows this pattern precisely. Watch the video one more time before reading on:
First, it interrupts the pattern by showing scenes of children failing and then unfolds into a classroom with a teacher writing “can’t” on the chalkboard. This unconsciously calls back to your childhood when you may have failed, and the classroom represents the educational experience of failure. You have more than likely experienced these situations, thus creating a comfortable and familiar situation.
More scenes flash by with young people being told they “can’t” do what they truly want. This feeds into the imagination of what you would pursue if you were told you could reach your goals. Then, the feeling is shifted when the music swells (“All the Things That I’ve Done” by The Killers) and we return to a baby taking its first steps. You become satisfied by the subsequent displays of success and triumph. Suddenly these moments of success are peppered with Samsung products culminating in the big moment where a Samsung virtual reality headset helps a woman to walk again.
Samsung’s ad works because it taps into a universal desire to overcome obstacles and persevere. It may seem cheesy, but that’s your left brain talking. What really gets you to believe in a product is your right brain: the emotional part of you. This is not just some ephemeral musing meant to sound good as a quote on your Instagram page. It is consistently backed by legitimate scientific research in cognitive neuroscience and psychology.
Samsung doesn’t want you to associate their products with young hipsters taking selfies or business executives jet-setting across the globe while taking important calls on their phone. They want you to associate their brand with everyday people, like you, who try to “Do What You Can’t” and prove people wrong.