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How Samsung Screwed Up Its Super Bowl Ad

Call it the stylus snafu: Samsung's over-the-top Super Bowl commercial failed to resonate with viewers and earned widespread mocking on Twitter. Here's why.

Eric Zeman

February 6, 2012

4 Min Read

I always love to watch the commercials during the Super Bowl. They are often humorous and typically play into all sorts of stereotypes about Americans and life in America. This year, I felt many of the ads missed the mark a bit (really, GoDaddy?), though there were a few gems to be sure (Acura NSX + Jerry Seinfeld + Jay Leno = win).

But let's talk about Samsung for a few moments. It hired Bobby Farrelly--one of the directors behind "There's Something About Mary" and other comedies--and threw in a bunch of below C-level talent to hawk the Galaxy Note, the "phablet" (part smartphone, part tablet) it is selling via AT&T later this month.

The ad starts out like much of the other recent anti-iPhone commercials from Samsung, poking fun at the mindless Appleheads waiting in line to buy some unmentioned product. "This feels like detention," quips one of the people waiting in line.

[ What's the real point of Apple's highly restricted app store approach? See Apple's Walled Garden: Sledgehammer Needed. ]

Then, some guy walks past with a Galaxy Note and uses the included stylus to draw a circle on the screen while he's taking a picture. This gets the attention of the Appleheads. "What's that?!?" they exclaim. The Galaxy Note owner hands it to the people waiting in line, and they are stunned by the device. One of the onlookers says, "I don't know what I believe any more," implying that her faith in Apple has been shaken. Her friend says, "I know what I believe."

And that's when the commercials goes into full Super Bowl mode.

The Darkness' Justin Hawkins, in full pink-and-white striped body suit, breaks into the band's only hit, "I Believe In A Thing Called Love." Bring on the marching band, the gospel choir, the stunt BMX bikes, a random football star, the flash block party, and everyone singing and dancing to The Darkness' only memorable tune--and you have a Super Bowl commercial.

The commercial aired during the fourth quarter, and caught the attention of the Twitterverse. Here's some of the reaction from the tech-using-public-at-large:

Since when did having a #stylus become a selling point? I thought the #stylus died with the #Palm. How was that Samsung commercial supposed to encourage phone sales? #stylus The Palm Pilot commercial was pretty good. #stylus Not so sure about the #Stylus. The distraction of the bright colors and sounds hasn't made me forget it's there. Yeah, @Samsung, that's what I want, a #stylus. Somehow The Darkness was not the most out of date element of that Samsung ad #stylus So, the future is 90s technology? #stylus One of the great things about the #iPhone was abandoning the #stylus. Not sure why #samsung thinks bring it back is #innovation and #freedom

You get the point. Before the game was over, "stylus" and "palmpilot" were trending on Twitter. Beyond the pomp and circumstance of the commercial itself (which I happened to find entertaining, by the way), Samsung used it to pitch a use scenario that companies have purposely moved away from over the last five years.

What did Palm do with webOS compared to PalmOS? It ditched the stylus. What did Microsoft do with Windows Phone 7 compared to Windows Mobile? It ditched the stylus. Apple designed iOS and the iPhone so that it could be used without a stylus.

I think it is safe to say that most people don't miss using a stylus. While the stylus and Samsung's related software on the Galaxy Note do add some interesting features to the Note, it's not a selling point that I would have advertised. Instead, Samsung should have called out the big screen, the ability to play HD movies, the fast LTE 4G, and other features.

Instead, it became the butt of jokes across Twitter.

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About the Author(s)

Eric Zeman

Contributor

Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies.

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