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(s AAPL). 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(s BBRY), which spent $35 million, and Nokia(s NOK), 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.