Samsung In The Dog House Over Ad Scam

Written by Alex Zaharov-Reutt + David Richards     29/07/2014 | 16:37 | Category: INDUSTRY

'Pop', 'The dog and the cat' and 'Boom': Samsung is suddenly involved in a controversy over what has been labelled "dodgy" creative awards at the recent Cannes Press Lions Awards.

Samsung In The Dog House Over Ad Scam
Originally it was Panasonic who was singled out for its "dog of an advertisement" award, which closely resembled an ad first run by Volkswagen.  

Now Samsung is having a dog of a time explaining whether their award winning advertisement actually ran in Australia prior to being granted a gong at the now controversial advertising awards.


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The news comes from media, marketing and advertising site Mumbrella, which has uncovered evidence that 9 out of 20 "Cannes Press Lions" advertising awards don't appear to have been run in the Australian print media - or to have been run only once in low-cost publications just before the Cannes deadline. 

This kind of behaviour by advertising agencies has led to claims over the years of ads created just to "win awards", rather than "solve client marketing problems" as Mumbrella says, leading to Mumbrella's "exhaustive review" of "every local entry into this year's Cannes Press Lions" awards. 

Samsung is the only tech company implicated in the Cannes ad scandal, pointing to its "S-Drive" ads created by Leo Burnett Sydney. 

S-Drive is an Android smartphone app designed to encourage safer driving, with points awarded for every kilometre safely travelled that can be redeemed for music subscriptions, movie rentals, fuel cards, gift vouchers, Samsung tablets, Super Rugby tickets, festival passes and snow weekends in New Zealand.

Mumbrella notes the S-Drive initiative only ran as a "pilot program around Newcastle during March 2014" - more information on the program is below. 

CampaignBrief.com and the Fin Review noted that Samsung's ad agency, Leo Burnett Sydney, won the "Bronze Lion" for S-Drive campaign. 


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Ad screenshots as captured by Mumbrella

Three of the ads submitted show various "opposites" that we're meant to keep apart, such as balloons and thorny cactus plants, cats and dogs, and an unlit match next to a petrol bowser, all with the tagline "Texting and driving. Keep them separate". 

Another three ads show a car approaching an intersection, trees by the side of the road and a pedestrian crossing. 

Coming out of each car is a text message box typical of what you see on iPhones and Androids, with the words "In the time it takes you to read a text message". 

The message box is seen extending quite a distance in front of each car, with the clear visual image that the driver, distracted by reading a text message, would either impact a motorcyclist, crash into trees, or mow down street-crossing pedestrians. 

Mumbrella says the S-Drive program "aimed to promote safer driving by turning any Samsung phone into a device that collects rewards the further someone drives without touching it."

Samsung's S-Drive site explains that S-Drive is a program to promote safe driving given that "hundreds of young Australians are involved in car accidents" every year. 

Samsung explains that "one of those drivers was Jarrad Ingram, who sustained brain injuries after a horrific crash in 2006. Today, as he continues to work through a difficult recovery process, Jarrad wants to help prevent others from becoming yet another statistic on our roads."

Samsung says it was inspired by Jarrad's personal story, and as part of its "Launching People" project, "wanted to create something that attempts to make a difference to these sobering statistics" to launch "a program that promotes safe driving". 

This was the genesis of the S-Drive program, which at its heart is "an app that helps transform compatible Samsung Galaxy phones into tools that reward safe driving."

The S-Drive site includes a one-minute video explaining how the S-Drive app works, or it can be watched directly from YouTube here. 

The video's description at YouTube states the awards that can be won for safe driving, as described above, and lists the participation eligibility criteria of being one of the first 2,500 entrants over 18 living in Newcastle or the Hunter region of NSW, owning a compatible Samsung Galaxy smartphone with a data plan and have a P2 or unrestricted driver's license.

The promotion ran from the 6th of March, 2014 and ended on the 3rd of July, 2014.

We contacted a Samsung Australia representative for comment but there has been no response by the time of publication.


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Ad screen shots as captured by Mumrella