Digital Marketing

Samsung Bites the Apple: Samsung's Newest Campaign Trolls Apple's Controversial Ad

5 minute read | May 21, 2024 Share Share

Apple’s recent “Crush!” ad aimed to make a bold statement, but it missed the mark and stirred controversy instead. Shared on X (formerly Twitter) by Apple CEO Tim Cook, the ad depicted a scene where numerous traditional creative tools and items such as a guitar, paintbrushes, and a metronome were slowly crushed under a giant hydraulic press. Unsurprisingly, it struck a nerve with the creative online community.

Critics and Apple’s online community also found the ad tone-deaf—something that their competitors have gladly taken to their advantage. In a strategic move, Samsung turned Apple’s misstep into an inspiration for a clever new campaign that addressed the controversy, engaged the community, and reinforced its brand’s messaging with a clear statement: “Creativity cannot be crushed.”


Samsung Bites the Apple: Samsung's Newest Campaign Trolls Apple's Controversial Ad

Although Apple’s “Crush!” ad used a creative approach to showcase their campaign’s intended message, many took it as an oblivious sentiment that completely missed the true expectations of their target audience. Critics pointed out that it alienated potential customers, and seemed out of touch with the more inclusive and positive image Apple typically projects. 

Watch the controversial Apple ad below.


Read: Apple Apologizes for Controversial Ad: Here's How Your Brand Can Avoid The Same Mistake


The short-term impact of the ad on Apple’s brand image was damaging. While loyal customers might have overlooked the controversy, the broader audience saw it as a misstep. The potential long-term consequences included poor short-term sales potential, low effectiveness, poor brand recognition, and a loss of preference among more discerning consumers.


Samsung Bites the Apple

Samsung’s response to Apple’s “Crush!” ad was nothing short of brilliant. They quickly launched a new campaign designed to capitalize on Apple’s blunder, aiming to position themselves as the more creative-friendly and innovative brand.


The campaign’s goal was to highlight Samsung’s commitment to user experience and community engagement. They employed a mix of wit and subtle criticism to contrast themselves with Apple’s perceived arrogance. A key element of the campaign was a collaboration with a renowned filmmaker, Zen Pace—an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, artist, and writer whose influence and creative vision added depth and appeal to the ad. 


Samsung’s ad continued where Apple’s “Crush” had left off. The ad opened with the shot of a musician walking over a mess of crushed creative items caused by the hydraulic press, exactly what the Apple ad depicted. Then, the musician picked up a crushed guitar and began playing the notes that were displayed on the screen of a sleek Samsung Galaxy S9 tablet. Before the screen fades out, it reads: “Creativity cannot be crushed.”


Watch Samsung’s #UnCrush ad below.


Engaging with the Online Community

Digital marketing and community engagement played crucial roles in Samsung’s strategy. They tapped into the current digital marketing trend, and recognized the importance of real-time interaction and feedback from their target audience. Community feedback shaped the campaign, which made it more resonant with the audience. The aptly designed hashtag #UnCrush also amplified user sentiment, helping Samsung foster a strong community bond over their unified sentiment: the harmony between modern technology and creativity should not be crushed. 


Apple’s “Crush!” ad, though intended to assert superiority, backfired and instead created an opening for Samsung to deliver its brand messaging. Samsung’s strategic response is a clever marketing campaign boosted by an influential collaboration and strong community engagement that turned the controversy into an opportunity. 


While it is industry practice for direct competitors to monitor each other’s performances in order to grab any opportunity they can get, this most recent episode between Samsung and Apple underscores the importance of understanding audience sentiment, and the power of community engagement in modern marketing. Future strategies should prioritize authentic connection and responsiveness to public feedback to ensure that brands remain in tune with their audience’s values and expectations.


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