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Samsung Focuses on Businesses in Creative-Agency Pitch

It's Been Consumer-Facing Against Apple, But Now Wants to Ramp Up B-to-B

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While Samsung is on the offense of late with its consumer-facing marketing strategy taking aim at Apple, the company has other plans. It's currently in the midst of holding meetings with agencies as part of a pitch for its business-to-business agency-of -record business.

Among those the Seoul-based company invited to participate in the review are incumbents Cheil and Publicis Groupe 's Leo Burnett, as well as WPP's Ogilvy. The global process has been under way for at least a few weeks, and it will continue through the end of October. The agencies either declined to comment or couldn't immediately be reached for comment, while Samsung did not return a request for comment.

This summer, the company announced products in the B-to-B category designed for businesses looking to display products and ideas, among other uses. Products include a 75-inch LED-lit LCD screen and a transparent LCD screen.

Also, this month the company partnered with music platform Spotify in an effort that will enable consumers to stream music directly from Samsung TVs. While not a traditional B-to-B ploy, the deal will likely generate interest among businesses and consumers alike.

The company spent $476.4 million on U.S. advertising in 2011, down 12.1% from 2010, according to the Ad Age DataCenter. But 2010 was a big year for marketing investment. At the time, the company spent $683.3 million in U.S. advertising, a 52% jump from 2009. Also, according to Kantar Media, in 2010 it spent $1.01 billion on global measured media, up 38.8% from 2009.

While there's no official breakdown in the revenue or marketing spend on B-to-B and consumer products, executives familiar with the review have referred to the account as "big." The company had previously contracted agencies for B-to-B projects. But according to an executive familiar with the situation, there is no incumbent agency-of -record handling B-to-B, so the move to bring on an agency of record indicates a heightened focus in this space.

For Korea-based agency Cheil, which as of last January was still 15% owned by Samsung, the business would boost an already sizable account. At one point, Cheil served as a marketing arm of Samsung. But it wouldn't do much for the agency's efforts to diversify its portfolio. Leo Burnett won the Samsung global branding assignment in 2005 and continues to work with the company.

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Contributing: Anita Chang Beattie

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