Samsung's iSheep Obsession is Marketing Manure

If you're not with us, you're against us. That's the overriding message from Samsung's latest teaser video, once again taking a swipe at iPhone users and, in the process, overshadowing much of the positive anticipation built up around the Galaxy S III. Samsung had been sitting on top of Apple-levels of enthusiasm; it could've stoked that with another tidbit or two, but instead it chose the lazy way out.

If you've not watched the video, or indeed been following Samsung's promotional strategy over the past few months, here's the crux of it: iPhone users are sheep – or iSheep in snark vernacular – whereas those who opt for a Samsung are different, unique, free-thinking individuals enjoying tomorrow's features today. Apple fans queue up once a year for a one-size-fits-all refresh; Samsung fans get umpteen options to choose from, including some – like a stylus – that Cupertino would never countenance.

Let's put aside for the moment Samsung's own rising star in the mobile industry, and the fact that actually, in terms of overall cellphone device sales, Apple is actually the underdog. The Korean's campaigns have been generally well-received, a little in-fighting and name-calling never being unwelcome among those following the tech industry. Writers have something to write about, fans have something to argue about; everybody is happy.

So no, while it's a cheap route, I can't criticize Samsung for trying to play on the rivalry angle. What's frustrating is that there was a far more elegant way to take the Galaxy S III teaser campaign, and in fact Samsung had been handed the strategy pretty much on a plate.

Now, I like Samsung. I liked it enough to agree to be strapped into a rally car and thrown around a track multiple times while screaming about the Galaxy S II. I like the company's tablets, and I like the way it pushes the envelope in terms of hardware. And so it's been great to see pre-reveal enthusiasm for the third-gen Galaxy S reach the sort of mouth-foaming that, until now, I've really only seen happen ahead of Apple launches.

[aquote]Samsung may have mocked iPhone addicts, but it's desperate for that brand loyalty[/aquote]

That, surely, is what Samsung has been hoping for all this time? It may have mocked the block-circling queues of iPhone addicts, but it would've undoubtedly given its metaphorical right arm for the same sort of brand loyalty and zeal.

So to see it achieve that – fan-crafted render upon render, endless speculation about hardware and software, deep discussion about the tiniest of minutia – and then squander it in favor of yet another cheap shot at the competition, well, it leaves me wondering whether Samsung quite knows what it's doing. I don't want to be told I'm a fool for using a rival device simply because a lot of other people also have that device. I want to be convinced that Samsung has something better for me.

Samsung should be trying to persuade people to change their allegiance – whether from Apple, or from HTC, or Motorola, or any other brand – because of the intrinsic appeal of its own products, not out of some vague sense of projected shame. It wouldn't have been hard to get today's teaser right, all it needed was a single fact about the Galaxy S III, something to get the conversation all fueled up again ahead of May 3. In doing so, Samsung could have put further distance between the accusations that it's nothing but an "arch copyist" of what happens in Cupertino.

Instead, the company intentionally put itself back into the role of sniping rival, of desperate underdog. The iSheep route may appeal to some platform-committed Android fans, but Samsung is preaching to the choir on that front. One thing's for sure, if you hang around too long in the barnyard, you very soon end up smelling of manure.