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Summary:

Samsung’s U.S. smartphone spending in 2012 saw a huge jump from a total of $78 million in 2011. In the meantime, the company actually outspent Apple, which put $333 million toward iPhone ads during the year.

Samsung Galaxy S2 vs iPhone 4s in Samsung TV commercial
photo: Samsung

If you feel like Samsung’s smartphone advertising was everywhere last year, you weren’t imagining things. A new report on ad spending for U.S. smartphones in 2012 says Samsung far outspent all of its rivals — paying $401 million to promote its Galaxy line of phones, which is a gigantic leap from the $78 million it spent in 2011. And it appears to have helped the company: its latest smartphone, the Galaxy S 4, has been highly anticipated in the run up to its planned introduction on Thursday.

The report by Kantar Media also found that Samsung outspent the company it frequently mocked in its ads: Apple. The iPhone was the best-selling smartphone in the U.S. during the last three months of the year after the iPhone 5’s launch, but Apple didn’t increase its spending nearly as much in 2012 as its rival did. Kantar reported that Apple spent $333 million on iPhone ads in the U.S. last year, up from the $253 million the company spent the year before. HTC, which was third behind Samsung, spent $46 million, followed by BlackBerry, which spent $35 million, and Nokia, which spent $13 million on U.S. ads.

Samsung clearly has a lot of money to spend and it spreads it around too: The Wall Street Journal, in talking to unnamed wireless carrier executives, found that Samsung also helps to foot some bills for its strategic partners:

The heavy ad spending is only the most visible of Samsung’s investments. Some wireless carrier executives said the South Korean company also spends more on “below the line” marketing than any device maker. Those funds help pay for in-store advertising, promotions and training for carrier sales representatives that help close the sale.

The discrepancy in spending between the only two companies who are making any money at all in smartphone sales wasn’t just in quantity of dollars spent. In terms of quality, Samsung’s television advertising got people talking, especially “The Next Big Thing” ads that poked fun at Apple’s typically long lines on iPhone launch days and the people who wait in them.

Apple, meanwhile, had an ad campaign that got people talking in 2012 (remember the “Genius” ads?) — but for another reason: for how surprisingly un-Apple-like they seemed in quality of execution and tone.

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  1. … And how has that worked out for them? Apple still crushed them in the us where Sammy spent all that money. Actually, the 16 month old iPhone 4S outsold Sammy’s Next Best Thing that is already Behke flagship phone for 2012. Ouch, Sammy is over exposed and all that doe didn’t really help.

    The upshot, glad that the Korean company is dropping huge amounts of greenbacks in the US media companies, I hope the double it next year, maybe that will create more jobs for Americans.

    1. Your sentiment is only part of the pic. Right now, Samsung has taken up much of the thought space of consumers. They are the next big thing and are hotter than Apple. I would even venture to say their ads have caused the public to doubt Apple and decimate Apples stock. Nothing is wrong with Apple (for now) but as the results of ads show, perception is reality.

      1. Indeed, lets not forget the action in the courthouse either.

        After that slip up from the Apple Lawyers, where the idea was to reinforce that Samsung devices are too similar in appearance to apple devices to the point that they cause brand identity confusion amongst consumers.

        Samsung Lawyers baited the Apple Lawyers with “Oh no our devices are not nearly good enough in quality to cause confusion”, whereupon the Apple Lawyer replied without thinking “No your devices actually are good enough to cause confusion”…

        The common person reduces this exchange down to : “So Apple are saying Samsung is good?”

        Free advertising right there by your competitors. priceless.

      2. Wall Street and the people actually buying product on the ground (Main Street) in the real America at a Apple store are not the same thing.

  2. Leonard Brooks Wednesday, March 13, 2013

    Good find Erica. I liked the content of your article and your writing style. This was not a fluff piece, this was concise & quality.

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