Turns out the secret to Samsung's recent mobile success in the U.S. — not to mention all those Apple-style fans — is tons and tons of advertising money, which has handily translated into tons and tons of sales. In the run-up to its release of the "iPhone-killer" Galaxy S IV smartphone on Thursday night, Samsung has spent way more than Apple marketing its phones, The Wall Street Journal reports today — $401 million to Apple's $333 million in 2011, according to the ad researchers at Kantar media. That's up from just $78 million spent on mobile advertising by Samsung the year before, a 400-percent increase in marketing dollars between the Galaxy S III launch and the beyond hyped S IV release. The S III campaign was all about those iPhone-fanboy ripoffs that were funny because they were true, but the S IV marketing blitz looks like pure, unadulterated, big-money brinkmanship. Indeed, Samsung has had quite the ad blitz just in 2013 already: the child-like wonder, the $15 million celebrity Super Bowl spot, the big Radio City Hall S IV launch event, accompanied by a Times Square party and Jumbotron live stream.
So has all the spending paid off? Looking at marketing dollars against mobile sales, the early answer appears to be yes, definitely. Our chart below tracks iPhone and Samsung mobile sales against the amount of U.S. dollars spent on marketing:
Samsung's quest for American domination has, as you can see, been a slow build. In 2010, when it release the first Galaxy S phone, the South Korean electronics mammoth sought market share by increasing its U.S. advertising spend by a whopping 42.5 percent to $680 million, according to AdAge. Not all of that went to phones, obviously, since Samsung only spent $401 million on its Galaxy ad blitz two years later. But, Dow Jones reported a "nine figure" Samsung Galaxy S marketing plan for 2010. The next year, as a result of all those dollars, came the first round of those harsh anti-Apple fanboy commercials everyone loves so much. Then with the S III, talking about Samsung's impressive ad campaigns became the norm, in the same way talking about Apple's anti-Microsoft ads were back in 2008.
It's worth noting, however, that Samsung only spends a fraction of its money in the U.S. market, where it doesn't have nearly as much domination as elsewhere, as you can see in this chart from Asymco's Horace Dediu:
Samsung has a bunch of other products to advertise in addition to its Galaxy phones. It runs air conditioner commercials in Australia, for example — something we don't see here in the U.S. as much as we do all those Samsung flatscreen TVs. Dediu still suspects that most of the worldwide marketing dollars do go to phone advertising, and the Galaxy in particular, which would help explain how it "trounced' Apple in all the numbers inside all the last available sales data. As of last November (post-iPhone 5 release), Samsung had 24 percent of the marketshare to Apple's 14 percent. We'll see how that changes, starting tomorrow, but you can count on a lot of commercials.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.