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Samsung makes fun of iPhone users, fails to show Galaxy Note features, in Super Bowl attack ad

Samsung has aired another of their good-natured iPhone attack ads, which should be an occasion for merriment and ego-deflating good fun. Yet once again the commercial feels like it missed it's mark. Rather, the whole series of commercials still seem awkwardly in search of a mark. This one stars the latest in Samsung's broad-range of devices, each separate by a different Galaxy monicker and roughly 0.25-inches of screen size, the Galaxy Note. It's something that can't quite make up it's mind between being a phone and a tablet -- I'm not going to call it a phablet -- and that's either the best of both worlds... or the worst. The jury is still out. How big is it? 5.3-inches of HD Super AMOLED big, baby. (Yes, that's exactly inverse the iPhone's traditional 3.5-inches.)

It's also got a stylus.

Now, I'm not religiously opposed to a stylus -- I'm an artist by trade and I've used several types of stylus on the iPad since it came out. However, a stylus by itself is not a differentiator. It's what you can do with it that's a differentiator. It's all about the software. I'm also not going to deny that, for some things, a bigger screen is not just bigger, it's better. Hey, I've got a 9.7-inch iPad and Steve Jobs spent over an hour in 2010 telling us what that meant in terms of the type of apps it could run.

But Samsung never makes the case for either in their Galaxy Note commercial. They never show off a lick of innovative, compelling software in the whole damn ad. They're too busy, once again, making fun of iPhone users. (Not iPhones, mind you. iPhone users.)

This time we're giddily missing the Super Bowl (presumably on the west coast because it's still light outside) by standing in line for an iPhone launch (which never happens any time near Super Bowl time), and the massive size and pen-ly charm of the Galaxy Note makes us break out into the worst Van Halen-meets-the-Simpsons-style tribute number. Ever.

They're copying the spirit of the old Get a Mac ads without any of the substance. Shocking, really, given their history.

Samsung couldn't have used any of those multi-million dollar minutes to show us the advantages of the Galaxy Note having such a big screen? To show us how absolutely killer a stylus makes the mobile experience? They flashed some photos, doodled on the screen, and did the equivalent of a FaceTime call. The motorcycle jump got almost as much screen time as the software.

And that's disappointing. Google's Galaxy Nexus commercial showed you can highlight Android hardware and software features in a compelling way. Samsung shows you can mock iPhone users, call us baristas, and convert us to the world's biggest ass phone just by waving it at us.

The girl in the commercial sums it up best when she says, "I don't know what to believe anymore." As much as Samsung bashes the iPhone, they give no reason to believe in the Galaxy Note.

If you want to court iPhone users, don't do it by making fun of us or insulting our intelligence. Do it by making us jealous of your phone... er... tablet... er... phone.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • I think they did do a bad job of showing the actual device. I thought it was an S II until they pulled out the stylus.
    The commercial apparently worked "some" though. On my Facebook I saw my cousin [not a tech geek like myself] say:
    "Ok, Samsung, you win. That'll be my next phone!"
    It was purely 'cause of their choice of bands in the commercial though. lmbo. Fun commercial but terribly un-informative! lol
  • I saw the Note at CES. It's way too big to be an everyday phone for me. I can see it as a hybrid if you really need something between a phone and a tablet, and really can't carry both, but ultimately I think the sum of the parts will be less and not more.
    Even the Galaxy Nexus borders on the too big for me. I think 4 to 4.5 is the giddy limit for an every day phone. Seeing a Palm Veer next to a GNex was almost absurd.
  • Is it just me or are we going backwards in time? We went from making phones huge and then smaller and smaller and now today's phones are getting bigger and bigger again. And now, a stylus?! We are time traveling into the past with today's technology.
    Also, I think it is comical that a phone is coming out with a stylus. That has to be the worst move on Samsungs part. Who's idea was that? Crazy.
  • i loved having a stylus on my palm centro and miss it. in fact it makes even more sense to have a stylus because the devices are so capable these days. anyway, i'll stop here...
  • A stylus isn't inherently bad. They are great for drawing, quick note taking, etc. This isn't an old school palm where it is used to navigate the device.
  • I'm not going to lie Rene...I thought it was a mini-tablet until this post. I literally had to go look and see if it was a phone or not. My position on phone size is different than yours [preference, and that's ok] but I completely agree with you here too. That is wayyyy to big.
    The GNex I want though. :-D
    I bet it dwarfed the Veer. Haha. Small phones [like my n95] always made me feel like I was Balrog. The iPhone is borderline there [after using a huge Evo 3D for a while] when I grab my old one.
  • But that nexus commercial isn't funny. Its not memorable. If they put it in the superbowl nobody would remember it. They are talking about Dogs chasing cars and dogs bribing people with doritos today. This one you don't like is at least over the top enough to get attention. And that's the point of an ad. The Nexus would draw little attention. To me it seems like any marketer would want the one that draws interest and attention not the other one.
  • I stopped watching this halfway through because it was so bad. You're right, Rene, it would have been a much better ad if they just took the time to show what the device could do, as well as, the significance of the stylus. Instead, Samsung wastes it time doing a bad job of mocking Apple fans.
    On a side note, that line outside of that "Apple Store" would have been a million times larger. ;D
  • Unfortunately, Samsung knows that if they just show the device, no one will probably want it. They have to use clowns, unicorns and fireworks to divert your attention elsewhere until they get the sale. Then you're stuck with a subpar product.
  • Somehow Samsung keeps getting a whole lot of people stuck with bad products. Surprising how the sales keep 'Skyrocketing'.
  • Why do you think that is? Did HTC and Moto have off years?
  • I think Moto kills itself with single-carrier devices. They're in a place where their phone isn't as differentiated from another Android device so their available customer base is based on available customers from one network: Verizon. I've heard Sprint customers say "I want the Droid but I hate Verizon."
    HTC is somewhat in the same boat [Evo on Sprint only] but I think their bigger issue is the sheer number of devices they produce. On top of that they finally announced their battery life SUCKS! Poorly performing products, in a vast sea of self-produced products, competing against the "same" [Android as the OS] device across multiple carriers equals a disaster and their numbers proved it.
  • You couldn't have said it better. Very well put. I +1 this.
  • I'm sorry. Did you not see Miranda Kerr at 1:08? Yes?
    Then what's the problem? :D
    I agree, this was kind of a letdown, especially after all the build up.
  • As bad as that commercial was...being the only iPhone user around all my 5 friends eith other phones, made me feel pretty darn wack.....shesh. Stupid Samsung. Can't even make me feel wack for the right reason.
  • I watched them filming this commercial weeks ago on the Paramount lot in Hollywood (repeatedly enjoyed watching the guy being shot from the cannon cling to a street lamp while dangling from his safety wire). So I was excited to see it here. But what was the point? I honestly didn't get it at all. What were they selling us? (This was not a problem unique to this ad, certainly. I can't see how the Time Warner Cable ad with Ricky Gervais and Mary-Louise Parker could possibly have resulted in a single new subscriber.) I'm an iPhone guy, but that doesn't mean I had to hate this commercial. Honestly, it just confused me. The only thing I now know about this Galaxy device is that it has a pen (which, by the way, my Treo had six years ago, so it doesn't really seem like a breakthrough).
  • these slights of iphone really bug you don't they Rene? lol.
    Seriously no add is gonna make me me buy a phone. It's huge and has stylus. Like right there no ad can overcome being huge.
    I will say. I've never stood out in line for some piece of electronics and sorry i just think that's dumb. I didn't even stand in line for my iphone. And i don't mean a long line i mean a line at all. I walked into the sprint store, they said they had one and i bought it. So in that since i think that whole making fun of people in line is funny.
    And i lived a long time in SF and was there when the first iphone launched. I know the big Union Square Apple store with the staircase well. I remember crazy people lining up. It's really is ridiculous. That and as much as my flaming liberal heart loves the Bay Area it's had enough of san francisco hipsters like the ones in this line.
  • It doesn't offend me as an iPhone user; it's actually pretty accurate that way. It offends me as a marketer. The better Samsung succeeds, the more Apple has to do to improve, and we all win.
    I pointed out the great Galaxy Nexus spot in the article. That's what I'd like to see from Samsung in addition to the iPhone mockage.
  • This type of ad will probably help Samsung sell more phones. It's why we see so many negative ads from politicians. They work.
    So Samsung gets more sales, Apple feels the pressure and works harder. You still win. So I still don't see the reason for taking offense other than being an iphone fan.
    In fact, sinking to Samsung's level and attacking back doesn't help your case. I think trying to take some kind of moral high road concerning Apple is silly. Especially concerning Apple who's done their fair share of negative ads in the past. Not to mention the digs at press events they do with competitors or even partners...remember them throwing AT&T under the bus? How about their very own iOS app devs whose ideas they blatantly steal from?
    Even as someone as invested in iOS products (and stock) as myself, Apple's blatant greed and tendency to squeeze every bit of revenue possible anywhere they can is a bit hard to stomach. Add in the stories of factories in china and all the offensive litigation they do, and you've got a company that's hard to be sympathetic with. As a stockholder, you've got to wonder how much longer they can get away with it. With so few products making up the lions share of their revenue, one misstep is all it takes.
    Things will get harder for Apple in the post Jobs era. He brought them a lot of tolerance/loyalty because he was well respected/admired. Cook, in contrast, seems like the poster child for Apple these days, the face of greed, supply chain squeezing, etc. You certainly don't think software or innovator with Cook. This guy has no clue what consumers want. He's a materials/supply guy. This isn't the guy you want headlining your media events or as the voice of Apple.
  • Again, I just want to see the phone. Being offended due to identification with someone else's brand is silly and a distraction. Show me the goods. What makes the Note a must-have device?
  • but consumers watching a commercial during a superbowl want to be entertained. They aren't shopping for specs. To me doing that nexus commercial then is shortsighted. And it's not memorable.
  • Not much of the advertising we see tells us why a product might be great to have. Apple has been doing that with iOS but it's not the only way to advertise. This was more brand advertising largely by being mocking. The Note just happened to be the product they chose to differentiate.
    Many are asking, why the stylus? Samsung didn't want there to be any doubt that they are different than apple (another key they want to emphasize in light of all the copying criticism). That's all.
  • BTW..great articles. At least they give an opinion and encourage feedback. Let's see more of these vs the regurgitated stuff or rumors.
  • But that nexus commercial isn’t funny. Its not memorable. If they put it in the superbowl nobody would remember it. They are talking about Dogs chasing cars and dogs bribing people with doritos today. This one you don’t like is at least over the top enough to get attention. And that’s the point of an ad. The Nexus would draw little attention. To me it seems like any marketer would want the one that draws interest and attention not the other one.
  • I think its smart. Mock iphone users. They're not targeting iphone users as much as people thinking of going to iphone from whatever.
    Focus on compelling software and what not? Why bother? There's two choices..iOS and android. You mock one and they run to the other.
    You attack Apple's brand. That sense of being proud to display an apple logo. At the end of the day, the majority buy these to impress their friends and show off. This is what Samsung is trying to win.
  • Interesting perspective. In a way it makes sense, and the fact that some iPhone users here seem like they feel threatened somehow gives it more validation.
  • The fact they feel threatened or concerned is the interesting or perculiar part of it.
  • I'm both an iOS and Android user. I actually felt embarrassed for Android. Like going to the school play and watching your child sing obnoxiously loud and out of key. Samsung is trying to hard, is too loud, and too obnoxious.
    As my 9-year-old puts it, "Awkwaaaard"
  • what's the alternative? Showing how much you're copying apple by focusing on Galaxy products? Showing off the Galaxy Phablet debuting with an ancient version of android?
    Perhaps Samsung should highlight the awesome support you can get at your local Samsung store? How about all those android apps that look like crap on the Phanblet?
    Yep, i'd stick to mocking Apple too.
  • A stylus AND The Darkness? Awesome. I hope we have enough power left to set Delorean's time circuits to get us back to the present.
  • Seriously!!! Maybe a tabone? Hahaha. And seeing the girl in the commercial holding it looked awkward for smaller hands! There is NO WAY this is better than an iphone! And a stylus? Really. So not a phone. Its a tablet. I can't even imagine talking on it. Lol we were ALL laughing at it, and i was the only iphone owner in my party! Haha
  • Don't get so mad. It's just a commercial and it's pretty funny.
  • I think the commercial is funny and that you have no sense of humor!
  • I had a flashback, when steve jobs presented the iphone: "and what are we going to use? A stylus?" -audience: ....
    I love Samsung: few month have passed after the 4S launch, and they still show eager Apple clients making lines for it...
  • The same people who will wind up with a galaxy note will be the same as before the ad aired. There were some slick, clever ads during the SuperBowl, the samdung galaxy note ad wasn't one of them.
  • True.
  • Clearly the people who wait in lines to get the phone will NEVER buy anything other than the iphone so Samsung are not bothered if it "hurts" these people cause they were never going to get them as a customer so there's no harm in mocking them...the people this targets are the people who think the people that wait in lines are just stupid and need to get a life.
  • The fact that Samsung have been selling the galaxy line really well shows that these ads are working or that regardless how bad the ads were to get the galaxy line will still sell.
  • I came from the camp that hated apple. I swore off iPods, iPhones and thought people that loved them were sheep.
    Then I started actually looking at the devices, rather than being dismissive. I went from calling the iPad endless names to being a very happy owner. Then I realized having a phone shouldn't be slow and horrible so I gave up my touch pro 2 (a supposed iPhone killer. Uh huh.) for an iPhone at the end of 2010.
    So I like Apple now, but it's clear I can shift camps, I have no immovable loyalties.
    However this is a crap commercial. There was some humor at the start, but then it lost everything. It didn't advertise anything, it didn't show me anything cool about the device other than it had a stylus, you could write on it, and you can hold it up to your mouth and pretend its actually your mouth talking. Oh, and famous people can sign it.
    Sorry, no. The damn thing is HUGE. I don't need a phone that I HAVE to bring its own bag for. I've never been happier that I've NOT needed a stupid pen to use my phone. I saw nothing to entice me away from what I currently have. It didn't even provide ANYONE who was looking for an iPhone alternative any reason to consider it, unless they want to carry around a paperback novel, write with a pen and... Write with a pen?
    Damn, Samsung. You try so hard and fail so much.
  • lol
    They didn't try to convert you iPhone users becuase there really isn't a point of trying. I think it's aim was to prevent other people from wanting to become iPeople......They don't call it a "cult following" for nothing you know.
  • That's certainly part of it. Trying to damage Apple's brand by making the very things that are considered cool about it seem dumb is very smart. That's not my problem with the ad. My problem is that then, after doing that, Samsung does nothing to try and capture any audience of their own.
    That's why I quotes the "I don't know what to believe" line. Samsung needed to 1) Make Apple seem uncool. 2) Make Samsung seem cool.
    They did a good job of the first, didn't bother at all with the second.
    As a consumer, makes me feel like they know they don't have an alternative yet; or their focus is on cutting lines but not growing their own.
    Either way, I'd shop around, not shop Samsung.
  • Samsung isn't going for the crowd that just follows what is "cool", hence why they are making fun of that very crowd.
  • They make fun of those people, yet they want to develop a brand that consists of those very same people, like Apple.
  • I really think you're missing the spirit of the Superbowl ad-blitz, Rene.
    Your argument for "I wanted to see more of the device!" fails because that wasn't the point of the commercial. Years from now, people won't remember Samsung selling a big-screen phone + stylus. They won't remember the specs. They won't remember the capabilities. They WILL remember that it was ridiculously over-the-top, zany and if nothing else, humourous. If you're angry at Samsung for attacking iOS ppl (because, you know, you're kind of a target here), at least man up and say that the commercial offended you. Don't put up "I'm an artist and this commercial made very little sense!" Clearly the commercial went over your head and that's your fault - not Samsung's.
    Lighten up. Apple will still make quality product. As will Samsung.
  • The Galaxy Note ad is a joke.
    The TV ad for the same product in Asia is so much better.
  • It's a Super Bowl commercial. Name a Super Bowl commercial that makes any real sense. Are you saying that one commercial was a demo of how you can restart someone's heart with a car? Or that a dog is going to go on a weight loss training regiment so that it can keep pace running next to a bug?
  • I'm die hard apple but I do like the continuity of the characters through out all the ads culminating in the big super bowl ad. I guess that's good, Samsung.
  • 5.3 is not the inverse of 3.5. The inverse of 3.5 is ~0.2857.
  • Wow, your life must be so boring.
  • who brought the fun police ?
  • Is it too much to ask that the writing be accurate? I mean, they're journalists, right?
  • Is that a phone in your pocket or...? Jesus! What the f... is that in your pocket?!?
  • Ever played a made in korea guitar?? They are S H I T! And so are korean companies!
  • Srsly! Everyone knows all the good stuff is "Made in China"!!!11
  • Wow, what a totally unbiased article!
  • Do you know where you are? Maybe you should check out the masthead of this site.
  • That's absolutely true. I worked in marketing for a decade. I'm completely biased towards good marketing.
    (Actually, all humans are biased. You can either state it, or hide it, but it's always there. Calling someone "biased" just means your own bias is typically in the opposite direction.)
  • see this i'd disagree with you. I don't mean to be rude but i think on this spot, what you think is good marketing is really bad. I don't think what you want, that nexus commercial, sells at a superbowl or is even memorable on an average thursday night. It's not bad but if you came to my office with that commercial as part of you're pitch send you back to the drawing board to think of something someone will remember in 10 years.
  • Regardless i get your point about wanting to see what the phone does. i don't think that nexus commercial is bad i just think its not good enough for the setting and is ok to introduce a product like ics but i don't think it moves the needle much.
  • I though it was good enough, and in line with the previous ads. Samsung does not want to convert iPhone users, they want to ostracize them, to shine a harsh light and make them look ridiculous.
    There are plenty of customers that don't have Apple devices, that's the crowd Samsung is after.
    If android makers talk about features they are ridiculed for it - "its about the user experience, silly!". I think Samsung realizes that and went the other way. Of course, Apple fans will poke holes on it anyway, damned if you do, damned if you don't, but they are not the target audience for this ad anyway.
  • I laughed at the first commercial with this group (love the cute blond and her comments under her breath....why dont you just get 4G)
    But after reading this article, and the replies, I am laughing more. They hit the nail on the head. There are iphone users and then there are iphone fanatics. I think we have several fanatics (nuts) on this board that think everything is about them and take offense to something that is supposed to be funny.
  • This commercial, like the other Samsung commercials poking fun at iPhone users, is supposed to mock the Mac vs. PC ads of the past. Thing is, it doesn't work. Nothing about these Samsung ads makes me want to ditch my iPhone to go back to a Gingerbread phone. That's right, Gingerbread, because there is no ICS phone on Sprint. They are waiting for LTE before they will get it, and that means that these commercials aren't going to move the needle for me. I don't see anything more compelling about the Galaxy note other than having a stylus and a bigger screen. At least Apple ads are devoted to what you can DO with the iPhone. Samsung ads just poke fun at us when if you look at the sales figures, Apple sold more phones last quarter, so the joke is really on Samsung.
  • It's not like the Mac vs PC ads made me want to ditch my PC. This isn't really direct advertising for a product. It's an attempt to look cool while mocking another brand. It's meant for the mainstream, not you.
  • I wanna see Apple fire Back with some commercials!
  • why?
  • That is a problem when you become fan of certain brand. You feel offended by some ads even you are not the target group. I'm using BB for communication but I bought iPad when I want a tablet. I love my BB and iPad but I don't gives a damn over rival ads. I will never replace my BB for Samsung or iPhone as long as BB fulfill my communication needs.
  • Absolutely nothing wrong with mocking Apple fans. There is a slice of them/us that deserve it.
    But the Simpsons did it much better 4 years ago.
  • Sweet. You deleted my comment. Classy!
  • We don't delete many comments, however certain comments will trigger the spam filters. If you don't want your comment flagged as spam or trolling, simply follow the very clear rules right above the comment entry.
    In other words, be classy and you get treated classy :)
  • My daughter's Leapster Explorer has a 5 inch screen and a stylus as well. I certainly wouldn't want to carry that beast around in my pocket all day!
  • Y'all obviously missed the highest tech ad of them all.. Jerry Seinfeld with a HOLOGRAPHIC MONKEY!!
    They showed that you don't need a screen AT ALL to one-up other people in an elevator. Isn't that what the Galaxy ads were really about anyway? Oneupsmanship with no apparent use?
    I bought my iPhone after I saw them (in person) just work around me. I'll do the same the day an android does the same to my iPhone. But that ain't today!
  • lol so right Rene a guy pulls out a phone no tablet phone anyway he pulls out the (what looks like a samsung galaxy sII) and the uses a stylus (good luck keeping that for more than a week) and i know nothing of this phone and now i only hate samsung a little bit more cos they didn't the phone at all just cringy dancing and singing
  • This commercial probably appeals to those who like Portlandia, miller lite, and walmart - i'm not too concerned with the health of the iPhone market :) There will always be premium brands and the also-rans who try and convince the masses they are just as good with explosions and purple jumpsuits rather than benefits and features.
  • Oh nooo. Did they make you feel non-superior. Do you feel better knowing you have an iPhone when you see someone with an Android? Or dare I say it a WM.
  • This isnt targeting the nerds but the normal consumer people and people who don't want to just follow apple crowd ie the people who line up which I just think is ridiculoes and those people must not have a life if they have the time to line up for days for PHONE
  • There is still ONE process in the stream from Design thru Sales that, and will always apply.... Money talks and BS walks..... Let's watch and see...
  • I'm not sure why folks keep calling that a stylus. (probably because the commercial didn't do a great job point that out) But seriously you can do some amazing things with that "S-Pen" But the bottom line is that it's a SUPER BOWL COMMERCIAL!!! The average non-tech person could care less about specs but rather about choices. To me I'm glad Samsung has already released this phone and is bringing to the U.S. because it's giving android users a unique experience with the S-pen and large display. I've already sold off my tablet anticipating this phone for the simple appeal of carrying one device. Mainly because the phone has been out since November and has had huge success.
  • Shhh. Quiet. Dont tell iOS users that choice actually exsits. :)
  • Why stop at 5.3", if the Kindle Fire could make calls we could just use that as a phone amirite? At some point the size become ridiculous, and I think 5.3" falls into that category.
  • Rather than a 'Phablet', perhaps it could be called the Samsung Tablerone. That way at least is would sound like something enticing.
  • Come on, doesn't anyone get the gist of the commercial? It points out how ridiculous it is for people to behave like sheep. Blindly following and buying the newest product from a manufacturer with no thought about what else is out there that might meet their needs. Personally, I don't want to be one of those folks who wait in line for the latest product from ANY manufacturer.