Samsung tries to pre-empt Apple's big phone launch with a Galaxy "sexy secretary in a short skirt". Wait, what?

Apple is almost certainly gearing up to launch a bigger iPhone 6 next month. Their competition, Samsung, is gearing up to launch an update to their big phone as well. One of the many differences between the two is that Apple hasn't just posted four videos teasing the name and announcement date of their big phone. Apple hasn't posted four videos that, frankly, come off like rejected Saturday Night Live parodies of Apple's recent ads. Apple hasn't posted four videos, one of which equates a phone to a "sexy secretary in a short skirt", and another that shows a musician making music with everything but her phone. This difference, between the companies, the products, and the way in which they choose to present them to the world, is worth exploring.

Apple has posted iPhone 5c commercials in the past that celebrate diversity and connection and color, iPhone 5s commercials that showcase empowerment, and iPad Air commercials that — wait for it — show musicians actually using iPads to make music. All of these commercials either debuted at, or followed after, the official announcement events. Apple doesn't tease. They don't send out invitations to their events until a week or so beforehand, and even then make the invitations as cryptic as possible. Not only don't they over promise, they typically don't promise at all. They leave everything to the delivery.

We had a great Vector podcast this week where Ben Thompson, Guy English, Dave Wiskus, Georgia Dow and I discussed whether copying was illegal, unethical, or just smart business, and whether innovation or imitation ultimately better served consumers. (You might be surprised at how the discussion went.) Wiskus, who's had his software designs copied in the past, offered this insight: Copying what something looks like is easy; copying how it works is hard.

Apple's ads don't just look a certain way. They don't just feature certain people. There's a lot of work behind them. There's a thought process and plan in place, whether you like them or not, that has depth and purpose and experience.

Copying the tone or the look or the shots or the structure is easy. Copying the feeling conveyed, the message delivered, the experience provided — that's all really, really hard.

Yes, I know, I'm talking about advertising and media literacy again, and some of you hate that and hate me for doing it, but I believe it to be incredibly important. I believe it's something worth doing and discussing, and I very much appreciate all of your feedback, even if you deeply love the companies I criticize and want to make sure I know it.

Mostly, as a consumer, I want better videos from better competitors showcasing better competing products. I don't want sexism or sophistry. I don't want a joke. I want a challenge. I want something that, when Apple rolls out their inevitable iPhone 6 ad campaign. That way we all get better products from everyone. Right?

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Samsung tries to pre-empt Apple's big phone launch with a Galaxy "sexy secretary in a short skirt". Wait, what?

47 Comments

Note: I embedded the original Apple spots in the post so as not to reward the sexist and dumb Sammy spots with views. You can click through to the Android Central post in the link at the top if you really want to see them.

Fair warning, I felt whatever the opposite of aspirational is.

Just as we've come to expect class from Apple, we also expect crass from Samsung.

BTW: the post needs some corrections.

I thought it was a silly and poorly reasoned argument that Apple was just like Samsung because it "copied" the plan to make a larger-sized phone.

Exactly! It was the same when people speculated that Samsung "copied" the rectangle, as though size and shape was what made each phone unique. Consumers want what consumers want, and it's up to companies to provide it. Right now, that happens to be larger, rectangular phones

IMHO the Apple ads seem like they're advertising third part accessories that make an iPhone functional. But the phone itself isn't really doing much.

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But it's the phone with something spinny. Without the spinny thing you hold a simple phone.

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So who's more important in making a baby? The boy or the girl? thats your argument? what if they both are equally important?

@Sax_Derp Yes they are showcasing third party things. Apps. That is what I like about the iPhone and iOS the phone gets out the way and allows you to use apps that facilitate some accessories. You are playing music there is an app that helps you with tuning or timing. People use the phone or iPad while they live their lives. If I want a phone that is also a Swiss Army knife literally I will wait till Samsung brings out the 'next big thing'. Right now showcase the apps I want while doing so with great UI aesthetics. Apple does that and does it well. Can they improve sure that's why I'm looking forward to Sept.

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I like being able to carry my more than three devices and only that. I guess the iPhone isn't for me and never will be.

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If it will never be for you, what are you doing on imore.. Shouldn't you be commenting at android central?

You're actually arguing that showing how many awesome apps that let people do cool stuff on the iPhone and iPad is a NEGATIVE? Uh... without apps any smartphone is pretty much without a reason to be. I can use a feature phone if all I want is to make calls and send texts.

My point is that the features of the phone isn't the focus. Samsung may have a horrible misguided approach (even I think that) but when you get a Note 4 you'll get the benefits of the Spen. When you buy an iPhone, you also shell out for this app, and for the accessories it needs, and so on and so forth. Not trying to say that Androids don't do the same. But they don't make that the focus of their ads.

I'll forgive HTC of it because they also are the ones that made the Dot view case. I'm pretty sure the stuff in Apple ads are 3rd party. The ads should be about 1st party things only. IMO.

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Samsung ads try to make people think they are better than Apple. They show their product and compare it to an Apple product. Apple actually shows how powerful their phones are and what they can be used for.

Nothing worse than negative advertising. That's the biggest turn off for many people. If you are advertising a product of any type showcase YOUR product, not try to highlight shortcomings in rival products.

Microsoft pull the same cruddy negative advertising and can't understand that it harms their devices and detracts from the true worth of the device itself and it's features.

We live in a world where politicians have primed us to be suspicious of advertising that has negative connotations because it is intended to detract from failings of the person or product (and let's face it political advertising is just selling us that person).

Yeah it is showcasing third party apps. But wait, isn't the phone strong enough to handle all these apps.
I don't think that the third party app showcased would run so beautifully and fluently on other apps. It is the power of the iPhone showcased here. Apple isn't showcasing the apps, it is showcasing the power of iPhone in running these apps.
Big difference

I'm not sure how they are trying to preempt the iPhone launch, the note series has always launched at ifa and Samsung has always done these types of ads (whether your a fan is personal) before each major device launch. They always do ads before a big launch hinting at the device etc. Sometimes I think you just look for problems when there isn't and love to critique Samsung because it's samsung, just my opinion.

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I wonder what I prefer, Apple lying to me and pretending I'm "special", "unique" and "empowered" when they just want my money, or Samsung screwing up and saying dumb and unfunny things to try to also take my money. I guess just making a commercial that simply shows the darn product without trying to be deep or silly is simply out of the question.

They're only lying to you if you're boring, unoriginal and passive. That's your (and each person's) choice. All Apple is saying is that they make products that let you do cool stuff if you want to. Whether you want to is on you (and me and everyone else).

I did not make myself 100% clear on my opinion of Apple ads, what bothers me is not that they are telling me that I'm "special", what I despise is the implied idea that I'm "special" only if I can buy an iPad/iPhone/iWhatever, if not, well, "too bad, you are just not ready to be one of the beautiful people yet, please get out of our bright and pristine Apple store and go back to the gutter". Samsung ads are bad in a more common way, they are down-to-earth crappy, so to speak, worth a groan and nothing more, Apple ads, if I actually pay full attention to them, make me want to reenact the ending to "Do The Right Thing" with the nearest Apple store, which I don't have any because I live in Venezuela, maybe that's for the better :)

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I think you're reading into the ads and putting words in Apple's mouth (so to speak). Again, that's on you and says more about your attitude than anything else.

To me, the ads say that Apple products let people do amazing, cool things... Any person. The ads are silent on whether other products let you do cool things - nowhere do they say "you're only special if you're an Apple customer" and to the degree you think they do you might want to stop and consider why you think that.

Do they push the idea that Apple products are amazing and let you do amazing things? Of course they do. They're ADS, not documentaries. So, no, they don't say "And hey, you can do this with other products" because, again, ADS.

Yes, after all, they are just ads, so you're right, it might not be worth getting into a hissy fit about them.

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Yes, after all, they are just ads, so you're right, it might not be worth getting into a hissy fit about them.

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Yeah, we're all looking too deep into this. One shouldn't try to find hidden meaning in a beer commercial. Heineken isn't calling you a loser if you drink Budweiser. And Budweiser doesn't say you're ugly unless you drink their beer.

So why are we dissecting, interpreting and personalizing these commercials?

Actually mate
I can buy whatever u want. U can even chose whether u want to see the ad or not. It's all up to u. Apple never says at the end or the beginning of an ad that u are only "special" if u use the iPhone
It is just, simply put, showing u the power of the iPhone. Did it say at the end of the ad in small texts that "We are only referring to iPhone users."
Maybe ur note 3 or S whatever can do all the things that are shown in the ad, but Apple doesn't really care about it, it cares about what the iPhone can do. And as my fellow user said, it all finally comes down to u. Whether u want to use the iPhones capability or not, it's ur choice.

The ironic part part is that we know Apple marketing is envious over these Samsung ads that Rene dislikes so much.

"Envy" is probably the wrong word. I mean, I don't think Apple would want to make these ads at all. They probably consider them crass, poorly produced, derivative, unfocused, and otherwise unpleasant.

Based on court-documents, however, it's clear Apple is unhappy with the success Samsung had, at least initially, in painting Apple products as something more hipster than hip.

I can definitely agree with that. I always get confused by Samsung ads or even the recent microsoft vs Siri/Macbook ads when I see them. Most of the time it's saying see this feature? Yep, my phone has it and yours doesn't so you're device is terrible and you're horrible/dumb because you chose that over this device. Trying to say iPhone isn't actually a good device, it's just the cool device to own but years behind other devices. Of course they will get Apple upset and annoyed about them too. So far recently Apple hasn't fired back though from what I remember. They usually have kept all their talking to the keynotes and comparing the devices and OS's there upfront.

After their sexist and offensive keynote a couple of years ago, I expect nothing less than classless tackiness from Samsung.

Other than the overwhelming cheapness of their phones (and I'm still forced to carry one for work, which annoys me daily), I will never spend my own money on another Samsung product just because of that sideshow slap in the face to women. Good to see they learned nothing.

Uh he did post a link to it within the story? He even commented saying he did. In the middle of the story he says like something about 4 commercials that's highlighted blue. Click it and you see samsung videos on AC.

By no means do I hate android or Samsung even though I dislike TouchWiz. Other than touch wiz most Android UI's are really nice. I just feel like so many of Samsungs commercials are trying to say look at this devices. It's definitely great and better than the iPhone in every way. Things like the wall hugger ads and the bigger screen ads of the two guys in the coffee shop. It's funny too because on a daily I see more people carrying a microUSB charger than an iPhone charger. They are trying to gain more users but you don't do that by bashing the phone somebody already has isn't the way to do it. It's not their fault that they prefer something over another. I love the simplicity of doing a lot of things within iOS. Apple anymore has commercials to show what their devices do. It's been a awhile since I've seen Apple make a commercial that completely bashes an Android device if ever. The only commercials I remember years back are the I'm a Mac, I'm a PC ads which were comical but at least 10 years before I had put my hands on any iOS device. Also I never really understood the point of S pen or any stylus. Android devices are just so complex it tends to get confusing. I have multiple family members with Galaxy devices too and I had to help set them up! It took me a long time. You have to go through tons of settings options and things to change stuff. I tried opening an ebook on my iPhone and my mom's iPhone. Took me maybe 2 minutes. Tried emailing it to somebody else and opening it for them. I emailed it. Then tried opening it and it didn't give me any options of where to open it and it said sorry this won't open. So I ended up taking about 30 minutes and trying 3-4 ebook apps until I found the right one. Also it gets frustrating android still can't compress files. I do that daily almost to send pictures, files, videos, and more. On android you basically have to use Google Drive/Dropbox/OneDrive or something like that to transfer files which can take a good 3-10 minutes longer depending on file having to upload it, switched devices and re download it. That's just the beginning to it. I could go on for awhile.

I use both android and iOS devices. I don't find Android devices hard to use at all. I think it depends on what you are familiar with. I tend to use galaxy devices but I've also used the nexus 7 and LG G3. I found them equally easy to use. I think android devices are very intuitive especially if you've used a PC.

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The fact you dislike Samsung and Microsoft ads towards Apple but finds the "Mac vs. PC" commercials "comical" shows that you have a biased opinion.

I like to think that all news outlets should be as unbiased as possible. Although I agree with Rene completely on most of his Samsung rants, the information he provides is (in my opinion) far from objective and too personally involved. It's not very pleasant to read.

i can't stand the advertising from both of these companies. apple ads just annoy me with their hipster mentality and image, and samsung ads showcase their envy towards apple. i like the products they both sell except for samsung phones

I couldn't even make it past the first two Samsung videos. They do remind me of Apple's recent ones but that isn't a great thing considering I don't care for those either. At least Samsung focuses on a feature, the s pen.

If I remember correctly Apple did not copied samsungs idea of a bigger screen.. They wanted to make a big one before but they wanted it to be big and great that's why they waited and I think the bigger screen of the 5s got life only because of the consumers maybe same thing goes for the iPhone 6. No doubt that these two are both great companies but from my point of view Apple stays the serious one while Samsung is the childish one.. Yeah that's right if I'm right Apple keeps killing it with professionalism .