Samsung CMO Todd Pendleton Says Advertising, Not Copying, Toppled Apple
Samsung's top U.S. marketer, Todd Pendleton, claimed it was his team's work -- not any copycat products -- that allowed his company to unseat Apple at the top of the world smartphone market.
Mr. Pendleton, the CMO of Samsung U.S., was among the first slate of witnesses Samsung called in its defense of a $2 billion suit from Apple for copying various technology features.
Last week, as the dramatic patent trial between the two smartphone juggernauts rolled on, Samsung offered us a peek at the internal frictions over advertising at Apple. On Monday, Samsung rubbed it in further.
When he joined Samsung in June 2011, Mr. Pendleton confessed he did not know the electronics manufacterer even produced phones, according to a report from The New York Times.
"I think people knew Samsung for televisions," he said during Monday's trial. "But in terms of smartphones, there was no recognition for what our product was or what it stood for."
After Mr. Pendleton took the marketing helm, Samsung's messaging swiftly changed gears and its sales picked up. Its "Next Big Thing" mirrored a familiar "challenger brand" tactic, with the fourth-placed Samsung clearly gunning for Apple -- a Pepsi-Coke combat for smartphones. The company's CMO in Australia has called the ads aimed at Apple a "tipping point" for the company.
Mr. Pendleton hedged when asked about the confrontation with Apple on the stand on Monday. "Our goals at Samsung are always to be No. 1 at everything we do," he said. "To beat everyone."
However, Mr. Pendleton did admit that his team had devised specific strategies around the release of a new iPhone, when Samsung's smartphone sales would slide.
Earlier in the trial, lawyers for Apple submitted documents containing a 2012 memo from Donald Sohn, the former chief executive of Samsung U.S., that underscored the extent of the singular rivalry. "Beating Apple is no longer merely an objective," Mr. Sohn wrote. "It is our survival strategy."
On the witness stand, Samsung's chief marketer made it clear that the company had done more than survive. He referenced the famed Oscars "selfie" and called Samsung the "most viral brand," pointing to its shares on social media, according to Julia Love, from The Recorder, who reported from the trial.
Some data bears that out: Samsung had more video views last year -- 453 million -- than any other brand, according to Visible Measures.
Mr. Pendleton served as the global brand communications director at Nike before joining Samsung.