Samsung has turned the growing popularity of the Ice Bucket Challenge into an opportunity to highlight one of the Galaxy S5 features that the iPhone 5S is lacking. In case you have been away from Twitter and most other social media platforms over the past month, the Ice Bucket Challenge is a viral social media phenomenon in which participants share videos or photos of themselves pouring a bucket of ice water over their head. The idea behind the campaign is to raise awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Although the Ice Bucket Challenge is ostensibly done in lieu of making a donation for ALS research, the campaign appears to have generated a considerable amount of donations. The ALS Association recently reported that donations have reached a record $70.2 million since the campaign took off in late July. During the same period last year, the ALS Association took in only $2.5 million.
In a video ad that was posted to Samsung’s U.K. Twitter account, the Galaxy S5 identifies itself before it is drenched with ice water. “I am the Samsung Galaxy S5,” says a computerized voice. “This is my Ice Bucket Challenge. Gosh, that’s freezing. I nominate the iPhone 5S, the HTC One M8, and Nokia Lumia 930.”
And there’s the bite. As noted by Samsung, its flagship smartphone has an IP67 certification rating, which allows it to not only resist splashes of ice water, but also remain fully immersed in up to one meter of water for thirty minutes. Not surprisingly, none of the smartphones challenged by Samsung are waterproof, including Apple’s iPhone 5S.
While some consumers may be turned off by a commercial that is using a charitable fundraiser to tout a smartphone’s features, the clever ad could prove to be yet another example of Samsung outmaneuvering Apple in the advertising arena. Internal company communications entered into evidence in the last Apple v. Samsung patent-infringement trial revealed that senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller and CEO Tim Cook were both concerned about the impact that Samsung’s advertising campaigns were having on the Cupertino-based company’s image.
In an email to Cook, Schiller shared his concerns that Apple’s longtime ad agency, TBWA\Chiat\Day, was failing to provide an effective answer to Samsung’s “The Next Big Thing” advertising campaign. Apple “may need to start a search for a new agency,” wrote Schiller in an email to Cook seen by The Wall Street Journal. “[W]e are not getting what we need from them and haven’t been for a while.”
“If we need to do this, we should get going,” responded Cook, according to court documents seen by Bloomberg. In a move that suggests Apple is beginning to move away from its reliance on TBWA\Chiat\Day, the company created an internal television advertising team this year, according to insider sources cited by Bloomberg. However, it’s not clear if the shift to in-house advertisement creation has improved the appeal of Apple’s ads. According to Ace Metrix data compiled by Bloomberg, Apple’s in-house ads are still less popular than the ones made by TBWA\Chiat\Day. Apple’s Emmy award-winning “Misunderstood” ad was also made by TBWA\Chiat\Day, as noted by Apple Insider.
While the direction of Apple’s future advertising campaigns appear to still be in flux, Samsung seems to be sticking with the tried and true formula of mocking Apple. Besides using the Ice Bucket Challenge to highlight the lack of waterproofing for the iPhone 5S, Samsung is also currently running a campaign that mocks the iPhone’s supposedly short battery life and calls Apple users “wall huggers.” As reported by CNET, the ad campaign now includes posters that are strategically placed around power outlets in several major airports.
Whether you think Samsung’s Ice Bucket Challenge ad was clever or in poor taste, it appears that charities will come out ahead no matter which company wins the advertising war. According to a tweet from Samsung, the company is challenging its followers to donate to the U.K.’s Motor Neurone Disease Association. Although Apple’s iPhone 5S is unlikely to accept the Galaxy S5’s challenge, Apple executives like Phil Schiller and Tim Cook have already posted their own Ice Bucket Challenges for ALS on Twitter.
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Follow Nathanael on Twitter (@ArnoldEtan_WSCS)