Samsung has evolved into one of the two key players in the global consumer electronics industry, challenging even arch-rival Apple as the leading pace-setter. In many ways, it has so far been to the early 21st Century what Sony was in the late 20th, but has far surpassed the Japanese company's achievements. More than any other Korean business, Samsung fully embraced Western corporate philosophy and threw itself aggressively into North American and European markets, causing more established rivals - not least Sony - to stumble dramatically. However the environment remains challenging. South Korea continues to experience economic and political problems, a situation exacerbated in Samsung's case by the fact that many Koreans actively resent the group's commercial dominance at home even while they are proud of its international profile. The group also faces stiff competition in key areas from yet another rising tide of Asian rivals, this time from China. The flagship of the group is Samsung Electronics. It is notionally an independent company, although other Samsung companies and the founding family between them control a combined stake of at least 15%. Samsung Electronics operates across three divisions of consumer electronics (ranging from TVs to refrigerators and washing machines), IT & mobile communications (primarily mobile phones, but also notebook PCs), and what it calls device solutions, comprising memory chips, LCD screens & other display panels and semiconductors. In its most important segment of smartphones, it has been the global leader since late 2011. Market share in 2018 was around 20%. (See latest figures here). In 2017, it overtook Intel to become global #1 in semiconductors. It has been the global leader in TVs since 2006. Revenues from Samsung Electronics reached a record high in 2018 of around $221bn, before falling to approx $198bn in 2019. Net income more than halved year-on-year to approx $18.6bn. The main factor was sharp fall in both revenues (down 19% to approx $82bn) and profits (down more than 30%) from components, especially flash memory, as a result of a slump in demand. Mobiles remained resilient, with revenues of approx $88bn, though profit was down slightly. The Samsung umbrella also covers a huge range of other businesses in sectors as diverse as financial services, fashion, tourism, pharmaceuticals, theme parks and automobiles (through a minority stake in Renault Samsung Motors). Samsung Electronics is just the best known of more than 80 separate but affiliated companies in Korea alone, 17 of them publicly listed in their own right. Combined revenues are well over $300bn. The empire is overseen by the founder's grandson Lee Jae-Yong, reinstated as vice chairman in 2018 following a jail term for corruption. His father Lee Kun-hee retains the title of group chairman but has been bed-ridden for several years following a heart attack. Samsung Electronics is now run by three co-CEOs, Kim Ki-nam (components), Kim Hyun-suk (consumer electronics) and Koh Dong-jin (mobiles). Lee Sang-hun is group chairman.
Capsule checked 24th January 2019
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Adbrands Daily Update 3rd Feb 2020: Latest global smartphone research from IDC reflects the stellar results recently posted by Apple for the final three months of 2019. The huge popularity of the iPhone 11 allowed Apple to leapfrog Samsung for the first time in three years to become the #1 smartphone brand by global shipments. Precisely one out of every five smartphones purchased in the holiday quarter was made by Apple, ahead of Samsung with 18.8% share. Huawei slipped back to third place on 15.2%. However iPhone 11's end-of-year surge wasn't enough to change the full year ranking. It remained in the #3 spot behind Samsung and Huawei. Xiaomi and Oppo held their customary positions as #4 and #5.
Adbrands Daily Update 16th Jan 2020: In a surprise development which may ultimately bode ill for Publicis Groupe and other agencies elsewhere, Samsung has consolidated all marketing services in Australia into Omnicom / Clemenger Group's CHE Proximity. That agency already managed Samsung's digital and CRM account. Publicis Groupe is the main loser: its Leo Burnett and Starcom had handled creative and media respectively here as in most other global markets. It's understood that PR will remain with the local office of Edelman.
Adbrands Daily Update 13th Sep 2019: "Alpaca". Some lovely gags in this new campaign for the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 from BBH New York, a new addition to the Korean tech giant's roster. Presumably Publicis Groupe's Power of One methodology has helped BBH hitch a lift on the back of sister agency (and Samsung lead) Leo Burnett. Like an earlier Burnett ad for Samsung featuring an ostrich, this new spot generates maximum appeal from the use of another unusual animal, the alpaca. And frankly, who can resist any ad that has alpacas in it? We've seen plenty of ads before that light-heartedly illustrate the explosive spread of new global viral trends, but this one is played purely for laughs. That encounter between two office workers both sporting an alpaca hairdo is classic.
Adbrands Social Media 5th Aug 2019: "The Frame". Fancy a bit of world class museum art on your wall? Samsung's latest TV, branded as "The Frame" offers you the option of a static screen saver when it's off, with a selection of masterpieces as standard. Much better than staring at a big black rectangle. Adam&Eve DDB's accompanying ad for Europe is an entertaining bit of fun, imagining where all those great images might have come from.
Adbrands Daily Update 1st May 2019: New research from market watcher IDC puts Huawei within reach of overtaking Samsung as the global leader in smartphones before the end of this year. In 1Q 2019, Huawei's volumes jumped by over 50% year-on-year to 59.1m devices, putting it within striking distance of Samsung, whose volumes slipped 8% to just under 72m. The biggest loser among the global leaders was Apple, whose volumes plunged by more than 30% to 36.4m units.
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