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Volume 20 No. 42
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The Sit-Down: Werner Brell, Samsung

What is engagement, or more precisely, what is it for today’s marketers? The exec talks about Samsung’s relationship with consumers and with endorsers like Richard Sherman.

We are responsible for creating culturally relevant experiences for the consumer that pretty much have to manifest themselves always in content.

Mobile phones have become creation machines and the gatekeeper model is broken. As brands we are no longer fighting for the best part in a TV show. We are fighting against everybody who creates content. Everybody out there.

I argue that an ad, a perfect ad, in the right space, in the right time, is not an ad. It’s engaging content. … But typically, it doesn’t happen this way. Typically it’s not positioned in the right time, in the right place. So this is the goal.

Lots of us are really focused on the transactional side. But if you are just focused on the transactional side, just trying to make the sale, you’re not able to really get into a deeper conversation with the consumer. You’re not able to build an emotional relationship, you’re not able to have a dialogue. And I think it’s much harder for you to make that sale.


Once you are established and you have this conversation with your consumer group, it’s much easier to bring in your product launch, your campaigns. … You don’t just come in cold and say, well, here’s the new phone.

Going from a monologue to a dialogue, you have to give up control.

The greatest thing on earth is word of mouth. … But then someone else is kind of messaging for you and threading the needle between a carefully crafted brand campaign … through communities that have their own rules of engagement, that have their own language.

It’s a bit scary, giving the baton over to someone else. But I think if you switch from paid media to earned media, this is what you’ll have to do.

You always get a little bit of cold feet by doing so. But at the end of the day, it will work. If you do it often enough, if you have some misses, you have some wins, you’ll get there.

The social team should be the youngest team in the company because they really know what’s working, what’s in, what’s coming.

It’s easier to ask an athlete to change a logo on his sneakers but it’s a lot harder if I tell you to change your current phone to the other phone.

Everyone has the right to express themselves. … I do believe that the authenticity comes with giving up that control, letting Richard Sherman be who he is.

There’s no one-size-fits-all, but you know we are looking at MLB partnerships, players, and we have the partnership with Russell Westbrook.

We are not trying to cast a wide net and very quickly have a hundred athletes. We’re really going one by one.