Samsung ALS Challenge

This past summer, people all over the country were doused in ice water in order to raise funds and awareness for ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). The disease, more commonly known as Lou Gherig’s Disease is a neuordegenerative  disorder which results in muscle spasticity (learn more here: http://www.alsa.org/about-als/what-is-als.html). While the Ice Bucket Challenge has reportedly raised $110.5 million for ALS research, there has been controversy over whether the challenge was more of a”cop out” or a way for participants to avoid donating to this worthy cause. While this debate is ongoing, the astronomical increase in monetary donations has proven this to be a successful social media campaign.

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Above, Justin Timberlake participates in the ALS Cold Water Challenge

In an attempt to profit off of the hype associated with the ALS Challenge, Samsung released their own Ice Bucket Challenge. The twist? Samsung didn’t pour the water on employees or company executives but rather on their recently released **waterproof** Galaxy S5.

WOW! How cool! A phone that can be submerged in water and still work. This is great news for the tech community but what does this commercial mean for Samsung’s reputation? The question at hand is did Samsung disregard the “Rules of Engagement” for social media usage when they created this commercial?

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT

  1. Use social media channels as intended
  2. Don’t be a dirty spammer
  3. Assume people don’t care about the product
  4. Have a personality
  5. Provide context when seeking connections
  6. Be transparent
  7. Talk about the topic
  8. Social media profiles are not billboards
  9. Be Nice

In my opinion, while the advertisement for the Galaxy S5 was distasteful it did not violate these rules in their entirety. Despite this, by not adhering to every rule, Samsung has put their reputation on the line. How? Rule number 4 states that people connect with other people “on a deeper level than they can with a brand.” Samsung’s commercial stripped their company of its personality by seeking to mock other companies rather than promoting their own. Instead they should have sought to form a bond with their audience by creating their own identity and personality. This explanation also helps to explain how Samsung violated rule number 9: BE NICE. Not only did Samsung utilize the typical “Siri” voice, it also proceeded to challenge other (non-waterproof) phones to take this challenge as well. By doing this, the company created a childish, catty public image for themselves. It almost reminds me of a political campaign commercial in which one opponent endlessly bashes the other. The commercial feels as if it is not only mocking the “inferior” phones, but also the community affected by this disease.

Here’s to hoping that the public backlash from this advertisement will help Samsung realize that taking advantage of charitable causes is not the best way to increase their profit or popularity.

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