Samsung CMOs on the importance of solving business problems, staying human & Cannes Lions


By Shawn Lim | Reporter, Asia Pacific

June 13, 2018 | 5 min read

The annual Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity returns on 18 June and it represents a great venue for Samsung to listen and learn from other global brands that may take on an entirely different creative approach to their business, its global chief marketing officer tells The Drum.

Younghee Lee, who is the Korean conglomerate’s first top female executive, adds that the festival also represents an opportunity for an Asian brand like Samsung to hear first-hand from the creative community and use the time together to discuss, celebrate and push the boundaries of why, where and how it connects with its audiences.

“We can’t speak on behalf of other Asian based brands, but Samsung and our agency partners have been showing global work at Cannes for many years,” explains Lee. “The brand has championed creativity in our marketing for some time and was recognised in 2016 winning the Creative Marketer of the Year award.”

Sharing Samsung’s brand message on the world’s stage

Lee, who will speak on ‘Is technology the downfall or saviour of creativity?’ panel next Tuesday, is keen to use her time on stage to share how Samsung’s brand messages need to be tailored to fit the needs of each different market worldwide.

This is necessary, Lee explains, because if a brand wants to be successful, it has to be both global and hyperlocal by having a universal voice that resonates across different cultures, regions and audience, but also be relatable and something that can resonate locally.

“For Samsung, our global campaigns are rooted in our brand ethos and our spirit of approaching things differently and defying barriers. It goes beyond just creating a visual identity to unify the brand’s many activities. It is about creating a personality and tone of voice that people will respond to emotionally,” says Lee.

To show how this emotional connection is grounded in universal human truths and is a global unifier, while still allowing every market to tell its own stories, and show how its technology helps people to triumph, Samsung launched a global campaign called ‘Do What You Can’t’ featuring Julian Yee, Malaysia’s first Winter Olympian before the 2018 Winter Olympics.

According to Marc Mathieu, Samsung’s CMO for America, the brand wanted to share its mission towards innovating to create technology that once seemed to be impossible to help people do the things they dreamt of, but until now thought they couldn’t do.

“This campaign was our global brand purpose and we tailored the message for our local markets. We wanted to tell the personal stories of how technology powers success for our different people around the world. Beginning with the rollout at the Olympic Games, and later partnering with locally-relevant digital creators, makers and storytellers whose lives embody the campaign. These powerful stories really connected with consumers on an emotional level,” Mathieu tells The Drum.

Samsung also used digital creators in its ‘Do What You Can’t’ campaign to share their experiences using its technology, as it went from talking about product features and tech specs, to giving its most loyal customers a platform to share their own unique stories.

Explaining the reasoning behind this, Lee says these stories are important as they connect with audiences at the human level and show how Samsung’s technology makes everyday life simpler and more convenient.

“From a competitive standpoint and how to stay ahead, simple innovation isn’t enough. We want to strive for meaningful innovation: designing products that adapt to human interests, giving people the creative power to do extraordinary things,” she explains.

Mathieu also previously spoke to The Drum about how Samsung is working to a new marketing 'playbook' which will aim to humanise the brand by positioning its technology as enabling and empowering creatives and makers.

The future of marketing

Lee believes that role of CMOs has evolved and the goal for any CMO today is to shape the heart of consumer experience and hopefully foster brand love in the process.

To do this, she says they need to stay authentic and secure an emotional connection with their audience. They also need to use insights and data to ensure campaigns are agile and delivering results, as CMOs are responsible for providing solutions to business problems. Finally, she underlines the need for CMOs to truly connect traditional and digital marketing as it needs to be one, synergistic effort, both off and online.

Sharing their own experience, Lee says she and Mathieu knew that they had to change how they talked to consumers, from the words they use, and what they were talking about.

“Most of our consumers are not into the technical jargon of modern digital devices. They care about what it does for their lives, how it helps them and what experiences they get from it. With that in mind, we shifted from talking about product features to consumer benefits. We used their everyday language,” she explains.

The Drum will be at Cannes Lions 2018. To find out what we have lined up with our partners, visit here.

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Samsung is a South Korean multinational conglomerate headquartered in Samsung Town, Seoul. It comprises numerous affiliated businesses, most of them united under the Samsung brand, and is the largest South Korean chaebol.  

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