Marketing Brand Strategy Social Media

How Samsung is using the language of TikTok to sell its flip phones


By Chris Sutcliffe | Senior reporter

October 28, 2022 | 6 min read

Samsung is marketing its new range of flip phones to TikTok – by demonstrating its value as a camera, tripod and social tool.

StemDrop is a collaboration between Samsung, TikTok and Syco

The campaign is a collaboration between Samsung, TikTok and Syco

The new device, the Z Flip4, is at the center of its new partnership with TikTok and Syco, which seeks to appeal to young and creative audiences by marrying the form of the phone with the function of social media.

The partnership features dedicated ‘Drops’ on TikTok, in which a famous songwriter will make brand new song ‘stems’ available exclusively on the platform. That, in turn, provides any artists or fans with the opportunity to create their own version on TikTok.

Benjamin Braun is chief marketing officer for Samsung Europe. He explains that the campaign is designed to introduce the opportunities of the flip phone to a demographic that has historically used tablet-like smartphones: “When you have one of these foldable devices, everything is in here. So you’ve got your cameras, your speakers, the software power to mix them...

“TikTok is a place where we can reach young people. But if you take our traditional way of doing marketing like we would do on TV, that format doesn’t work. A TV ad could be 60 seconds long, 45 seconds long ... that landscape format, and the way we build the narrative in traditional marketing channels, just doesn’t work.”

As a result, Samsung is counting on the partnership to demonstrate its products in a way that feels authentic to the TikTok generation. There are parallels with similar efforts from Fender, which also partnered with musicians on the short-form video app to demonstrate its bona fides in a way that was native to the platform. While Fender focused on the music aspects, Samsung’s pitch is broader, taking in more aspects of social creation.

It is part of a broader campaign that aims to reintroduce flip phones to the public consciousness. But while the TV iterations of the marketing are more mass-market, Braun argues the TikTok collaboration speaks to Samsung’s ubiquitous presence in consumer tech.

Creative evolution

He says Samsung’s marketing efforts in general are based on three aims. The first is increasing awareness of Samsung’s range of electronics, while the second is predicated on presence when a consumer is considering a purchase. The third, conversion, is the end result of the campaign in totality – and he notes that it relies on having been authentic throughout.

To that end, he notes that the speed with which campaigns come together is being upended by platforms such as TikTok. Speaking of Samsung’s ‘future generations’ marketing team, Braun says: “It’s young people that are all under the age of 30. I feel like a dinosaur when I meet with them.

“They don’t use agencies or production houses ... They come up with an idea. They kick it around. They create their idea on their Samsung devices. They film it, edit it, push it live. It can take a couple of hours from idea to execution to [publication]. And then immediately they can see the performance of it.”

Braun notes that, in that respect, the creative process for marketing efforts mirrors those of the users of Samsung devices and TikTok. The democratization of creation using those tools allows creators to bypass the old gatekeepers to growing an audience – but it also allows brands like Samsung the ability to speak to users in the same manner.

The StemDrop campaign features a ‘StemDrop Mixer’ on TikTok, which allows creators of all levels to experiment with individual effects, harmonies and melodies to create and upload their own unique version of the song. It goes back to Braun’s argument about the benefits of the democratization of music creation online.

The campaign officially launched on October 26 on TikTok, with creative direction from Syco Entertainment and Universal Music Group’s Republic Records. It also features an original song – Red Lights – from Max Martin, Savan Kotecha and Ali Payami, who as a team have produced some of the most popular pop songs of the past few years, in order to provide an original hook for the TikTok creators.

Brand extensions into platforms are always a dicey proposition. Too loose a connection and consumers feel they are being sold to, rather than having a dialogue with the brand. On such a creator-led platform like TikTok that risk is doubly prevalent. By focusing on demonstrating why the Z Flip4 is complementary to the creation process, Samsung is attempting to ameliorate that problem and activate a new generation of consumers.

Marketing Brand Strategy Social Media

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