From Ellen’s epic selfie at this year’s Oscars to a multiyear partnership with Dick Clark Productions’ American Music Awards, Samsung continues to write the playbook for brand integrations. Adweek talked to Amber Mayo, Samsung’s director of media and partnerships, about how the strategy has become key in the company’s marketing plan. Click here to read part two of the interview.
Adweek: Why did you decide to launch a high-profile media integration at the 2012 AMAs?
Mayo: We started working with [AMA broadcast network] ABC and finding these big moments to do something new and interesting instead of the cheesy, "Hey, here's my product" interstitial thing that you see all the time—which doesn't ring true in that moment. We started taking a look at the different show elements, and … decided to get rid of the envelope [and employ a mobile device for reading winners’ names instead]. The envelope is a little bit antiquated [and] old school. [With our AMA integration], you’re using technology to provide the same information but in a more fun, unique, different way.
What was the response?
Even though it was just a U.S.-based execution, the global press picked it up and [said], "Wait a minute. What are they doing? They're doing something new." We also … didn't talk about it ahead of time, which you’ll notice across the board is something we do. We work like mad behind the scenes to figure it out, work on it, get it right and make it authentic and fun and a part of the show, and then we let it tell its story just by virtue of the fact that we’re doing it.
This summer Samsung signed on to sponsor Major League Baseball’s Instant Replay feature, resulting in 630 branded replays during the second half of the season. | Photo: Jeff Zelevansky/MLB.com
How far in advance are the partnerships planned out?
From a media standpoint, we need to lock in partnerships a way out. So the Oscars, we lock in that inventory and that category exclusivity a year-plus out.
Sometimes, plans change a week before, two days before, the day before the event. It’s that crazy because you’re also dealing with social media, you’re dealing in some cases with celebrities or you’re dealing with other properties from a network to a production company.
Who is involved in getting these executions off the ground?
Traditionally, companies hire big outside agencies, whether they're a sports marketing group, an entertainment marketing group or some combination. Instead of that, I've taken a very tiny team of three [built out at media agency Starcom.] It’s an individual team who gets it going, then we work together as a 360-degree group to pull it off.
Jay-Z famously announced the launch of his album Magna Carta Holy Grail during last year's NBA finals.
What's an example of an execution that was planned months ahead of time but was changed right before the event?
I'm going to say all of them. We have operated more like a startup marketing team because we’re such a small team, and we have to move so fast. So right now, we sort of have started working on the AMAs and that’s in November. It’s the third time doing it with the AMAs, [so] we’re looking for something new, different and interesting. But at the same time, we’re also not as stressed about it because the partnership is so great that the teams involved at this point know our devices incredibly well.
We're all thinking at the same time, so there is a flurry of emails going back and forth—sometimes at four in the morning. Sometimes, then, you wake up in the morning and [realize] you really shouldn’t have sent that [laughs].