In its ambition to become the UK’s ‘best loved brand’, Samsung has launched an online talent competition with celebrity mentors that it plans to build into a TV show. The consumer electronics brand has partnered with chef Gizzi Erskine, actor and producer Idris Elba (video above), singer-songwriter Paloma Faith and photographer Rankin, who will act as mentors, nurturing British and Irish talent in their respective fields.

Potential participants were invited to apply via Facebook by 6 March with a two-minute film that encapsulates their particular passion project. For instance, as Idris Elba points out in the above film, a ‘rough’ script with a strong idea that needs refining. More than 600 people have downloaded the app since it launched on 3 February. The most popular category by far is music, with wannabe performers already attracting support for their videos.

The final four participants, as selected by each mentor, will feature in a television series that will air on UK TV in spring 2014. There will also be a ‘People’s Choice’ winner per category, voted for by the public on Facebook. These winners will receive personal tuition and Samsung products that will support them in pursuing their dreams.

Ad agency Cheil UK and media agency Starcom, both in London, worked on the campaign.

Samsung ran Launching People across 13 regions last year, starting with France in June and stretching across territories in Europe, Latin America and Middle East. The YouTube film below generated more than 1 million views.


Contagious Insight

As opposed to merely being window dressing, the celebrities involved in Launching People are there to nurture up-and-coming talent. This makes their presence far more meaningful. All too often, brands rely on a celebrity to be the ‘face’ of a particular product, not realising that it can come across as shallow. This week also revealed another extreme: Procter & Gamble-owned detergent Dreft sponsoring the Jonas Baby. Cue a collective shudder from Contagious HQ.

Back to Samsung. In January, we reported on the electronics brand teaming up with coffee brand Illycaffè and observed that it could do with an injection of Italian warmth to humanise its rather sterile brand. Launching People, if steered sensitively, has the potential to do that in droves, hammering home Samsung’s ambition to be people-first. On the Australian Launching People site, the brand claims: ‘Samsung technology touches people’s lives, to launch their dreams and potential. That’s why we don’t just launch products, we launch people.’

The TV element could be a smart way to engage people, particularly in the UK where talent shows are still some of biggest ratings magnets, attracting up to 10 million viewers. The popularity of Paloma Faith’s vertical on Facebook suggests that this could be a banker for Samsung in terms of credible TV content, while, Masterchef nets up to 5 million viewers, which could bode well for Gizzi Erskine.

Yet even though Nokia’s Your Wish Is My App TV show scored big for the brand in India last year, attracting more than 30,000 ideas for apps, that market is very different to the UK where there’s less compulsion to readily engage with brands.

As for Samsung’s bid to be a loved brand, it is certainly trying. Interbrand named it the eighth best global brand last year, singling out its ‘focus on being an aspirational brand to its target audience of young consumers’. Now that it has a 32% market share of smartphones globally, its products are clearly revered. Yet it doesn’t come close to reaching the dewy-eyed evangelism that Apple products stir in brand fans. Launching People is a solid first step on the path to generating more affection for its brand.


Discover more online video innovation at the inaugural MIP Digital Fronts, April 9-10. More info here…

This is the latest in a series of midemblog posts from Contagious I/O, abespoke database of trends, inspiration, insight and analysis, providing daily innovative marketing intelligence across a comprehensive range of sectors to brands and agencies across the world. Contagious – a midem content partner More information here; and be sure to sign up for the Contagious newsletter here!

About Author

As Head of Social Media for Reed MIDEM, James Martin oversees social strategy and deployment for B2B events MIPTV and MIPCOM, Midem (music industry) and MIPIM & MAPIC (real estate & retail). He is based in Reed MIDEM's Paris office.

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