|Watch 'Snow Woman' in one of Samsung's Olympic commercials.
The Korean electronics giant has spent $50 million on its Winter Games sponsorship and will leverage it to drive its fast-growing wireless communications business. This push is especially important, as Samsung has tried to gain a toehold in the U.S. consumer electronics market with mixed results.
"We regard Samsung mobile handsets as flagship products out of all the electronics that we produce -- TVs, white goods [appliances], even components," said Il-Hyung Chang, senior vice president and head of Olympic projects at Samsung's Seoul headquarters. "It is not an easy task for one company to launch a very global marketing program in such a short period of time, but we have established very good relations with our subsidiaries and are working hard to come up with marketing programs."
Latecomer to U.S.
While Samsung has dialed down brand advertising in the U.S. over the last couple of years, it did launch a global brand campaign last summer with Interpublic Group of Cos.' Foote Cone & Belding Worldwide, New York.
Samsung has put most of its estimated $400 million in media outside the U.S. In 2000 it spent an estimated $71 million on measured media in the U.S. and $31 million for the first 10 months of 2001, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.
Samsung broke a 30-second TV spot to promote the Olumpics sponsorship.
Pushing wireless phones
Samsung Telecomunications America, its Dallas-based wireless handset subsidiary, has received the lion's share of U.S. ad dollars as the company's share of wireless handsets grows rapidly. Samsung is primarily using the Olympics sponsorship to raise brand awareness in North America, but has also implemented marketing programs around it in Europe and other markets with its retailers.
Wireless analysts peg Samsung at No. 5 in the U.S. in handsets. Nokia ranks No. 1, followed by Motorola, Ericsson/Sony Electronics and Kyocera or Audiovox, which tie for fourth.
In Salt Lake, Samsung has a huge presence with the Olympic Rendezvous @ Samsung, a reunion center for athletes and their families that also serves as an exhibition venue to showcase state-of-the-art mobile handsets. All visitors to the center will get to make a free three-minute wireless call.
Samsung has provided 20,000 wireless handsets to the International Olympic Committee to help run the event.