Samsung’s US chief marketing officer Marc Mathieu has shifted the view of his company to see digital platforms and "creators" as a way to service customers, rather than a channel to sell more stuff, and is now urging the wider industry to do the same.
Following Unilever marketing chief Keith Weed’s call for more robust measurement around the use of influencers in marketing, a call that Mathieu says he broadly agrees with, he spoke about how he views the talent he has worked with, including Casey Neistat and Issa Rae, in recent years to heighten awareness of the features and technology offered by Samsung.
Mathieu has previously voiced his opinion on the ‘threat’ that creators pose to the agency sector, working closely as they do with the brands. To this point, he says: “As we like to say at Samsung, if you have a phone and you have a good idea you can be a creator. Creators are today, in a certain way, the marketers and advertisers of our products. I often say I’d rather help people use our products marketing ourselves and how they are using our products than us marketing the features and the specs, but of course we need to do that too.”
He continues: “The super-users, we don’t work with them because of their influence, we work with them because of their creativity and because of their genius and the way they are using today’s technology to tell their story and to impact the world.”
He also highlighted the second Oscar campaign from Samsung following the current strategy with work by creators and directors to show the impact they could have on the world.
“That is where it comes back to the authenticity of who we work for and how authentically their brand and usage of our brand works. The first time Casey and I met, I told him that I have as much respect for your brand as I hope you have for mine and the reality is that is what makes a great partnership with a creator when you recognise that they are a brand too."
On the lingering concern over metrics and measurement of work with infleuncers, another concern raised by Weed, Mathieu says he empathises with the Unilever marketer.
“If you look at it, we always really try to think about the people we work with. We don’t have many, we work with a few, and we try to make sure that it feels very authentic in their approach, their spirit and how they build their own following. Keith made an important point because it is through that point, when looking at it on a scale that Samsung is one brand that does a lot of partnerships, but it’s easy to manage but when you are the size of Unilever where you have so many brands, you need more than anybody else, to be focused on creating some templates and guard rails.”
He declines to offer much more detail on how partnerships are sourced and agreed but states his belief that they be “a human conversation” and that the best relationships are direct rather than going through an agency third party.
“The agency can play a part in preparing and managing, but there needs to be a direct relationship and I have personally spent time with quite a few creators. Last year we brought some of them here to Cannes, and it’s important that you manage it where the marketing team has a direct relationship with key creators that they want their brands to partner with. That’s the best way to have an understanding."
He continues: “We clearly look at all the traditional marketing metrics that are available to us and it is an opportunity when we see that people are interested, we do have great devices, so it is always an opportunity for us to engage with people using our devices. It’s about how to connect the creator and the audience of the creator with our devices somehow playing a part. I don’t think that it’s about us being centre stage as it then becomes inauthentic, there needs to be some truth in producing the story.”
Mathieu also offers some empathy for aspiring creators and sees Samsung as one of the few brands that aims to “empower and serve the creator wannabee.”
Asked about the role platforms should play in aiding transparency over the influencers they host, Mathieu says there is no one party who should be held accountable: “In general, when the internet was created it was all about serving us better. None of the hardware products or platforms or marketing and advertising tools existed or were imagined. We have come to a point where we can reach people because of the size of the marketing and advertising industry that has transferred into the digital world.
“Our people can be exposed to up to 10,000 brand messages a day and that happens through changing devices 21 times an hour. Somehow, I don’t think it’s just the marketers fault or the platforms fault or the hardware manufacturer’s fault – it’s about how we collaborate and work together almost with a sense of ethical responsibility to put in place some of the guard rails but also to do what is right for our companies, at least for our children. There is a moment where I believe collectively we need to embrace a sense of responsibility for how we can focus less on using the digital world to sell more and use it to serve more. That is why I talk so much about makers and creators because the more we can serve and enable them and empower more people to make their mark, the better it is. I believe also that the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence can free us up from the mundane tasks and empower us to be more creative and to pursue more meaningful things and to pursue one’s passions”
He concludes by adding his belief in the sense of responsibility that technology makers and brands carry to create a better world; “We have an opportunity to really work harder to create the world that we want for our children, it’s incredible from what we can benefit from the internet and technology, that we can move at a scale and speed that is unprecedented, we can build communities and create movements and impact but at the same time we need as an industry to do it with an ethical sense.”
And Samsung’s belief in its own focus of allowing the world to create and share work is something that will continue to be at the heart of its messaging for a long time to come, as creative talent independently is encouraged to rise to the top and express themselves in ways that no other generation ever has before to a global online audience it has never previously had access to.