Highly Commended 2019



Samsung Galaxy Note9

Entered by:



Epic Games, Ninja, SSSniperwolf, Markiplier, Ali-A, Harry Kane, Publicis Sport & Entertainment, R/GA

Selling a phone with hidden powers

The Challenge

How do you sell a $1,000 phone whose most powerful benefits are hidden inside the device?

After years of rampant growth, the Smartphone market was slowing down. Not only did most people now have a smartphone but the media was talking about reaching “peak smartphone”, a time when it was no longer necessary
for consumers to regularly upgrade.

Each year Samsung releases two phones, the S-series around March and the Note series around August. Launching the Galaxy S9 in March 2018 we had seen the effect of this category slow down. Against this backdrop, we launched the Note9, Samsung’s most expensive phone to date, retailing at around $1,000.

Our key concern was that Note9 looked similar to its predecessors. However, beneath the surface lay significant improvements to its power, speed and battery life. We knew though that these weren’t commonly listed reasons to
get a new phone. In a tough climate, we needed to find a group of people interested in a phone with hidden powers.

The Strategy

Our Insight: Gaming is where our hidden traits come to life

The Note 9 improvements wouldn’t be that meaningful to most people. However, we found an audience for whom these features held a strong appeal: Gamers. The powerful, long-lasting battery kept games going longer. An
innovative water-carbon cooling system sustained the phone’s high  performance, keeping it cool to touch and hold.

Finally, the Smart Performance Adjuster automatically adjusted gaming performance settings for optimal gameplay making the Note9 capable of keeping up with the speed of the game and creating Samsung’s best mobile gaming experience to date.

In addition, our research showed that one of people’s primary motivations for gaming is being able to express themselves more fully. 67% of gamers say gaming is a way to express their creativity.

As we talked more we found that gamers often feel more truly themselves in the virtual world than in the real one.

It’s a space where they have the power to be anything they want and where otherwise hidden personality traits come to the fore.

Our Strategy: Use gaming to demonstrate this phone’s hidden traits

We used the world of gaming to reveal the Note9’s hidden traits, in the same way gamers revealed their own characteristics. We planned to turn up in a way that made Note9’s hidden power immediately recognizable. But, we
needed to do this at scale and in a way that created unprecedented buzz.

What better space to do this than within the world of Fortnite. Fortnite is the hottest title in gaming globally, with 200 million users worldwide. And it was a place to find our affluent target as the game attracts a devoted audience willing
to spend $400 a pop on ‘skins’ to express themselves.

We landed on the big strategic idea to ‘make Note9 the most powerful character in Fortnite’. We implemented this by creating an experience that was built within the game and then amplified it in the larger world. Throughout the
process we took care to authentically integrate with the language and world of Fortnite to truly earn the attention and respect of gamers.

The Implementation

Creation: Working in close partnership with Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, we created a new character with an immediately recognizable and powerful presence. Note: Characters, or ‘skins’ are the highest value currency within Fortnite.

With the brand’s colours and flagship name “Galaxy Man” was born, a contemporary take on the invincibility mode that was popular in old school video games like Super Mario. He crackled with implicit power and spoke the language of gamers.

Release: We connected with the global gaming audience in the most authentic and direct way possible by partnering with the world’s biggest Fortnite gamers, or ‘streamers’.

First we teamed-up with Ninja, the world’s most famous gamer, to release the new character. We gave him early access so he could unveil Galaxy during live gameplay on Twitch, the most widely used platform for Fortnite Gameplay with 170M unique monthly users across global markets (excluding China).

Simultaneously he released a pre-recorded YouTube video showing him receiving a unique product unboxing experience created in the style of one of the gamers “Supply Drops”. This video content became the main source of
information about our new character driving millions of organic views.

Unboxing: We went on to carry out the Note9 unboxing, mimicking Fortnite’s own ammunition drop, with a series of other famous Fortnite gamers with global followings, including SSSniperwolf, Markiplier and Ali-A. These influencers were selected utilising data sources such as Julius and Crimson Hexagon, based on criteria including analysis of social followings in multiple core Samsung markets (including US, UK, France and Germany).

Amplification: To broaden our reach to a wider audience we worked with Global Football Superstar Harry Kane, fresh from his exploits at the 2018 World Cup. We created unboxing content with Harry and supported his social posts with paid media in 8 markets (Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Spain, UK, Canada, and US).

We further highlighted the features of the Note9 working with some of the world’s biggest YouTubers to create a series of videos of them playing with Galaxy Man on their new Note9 and calling out its performance. The character was also promoted through Samsung’s owned social and CRM channels as well as through a digital billboard in Times Square. All content drove to Samsung.com where streamers could learn more about the product and link directly to purchase.

The Result

By focusing on gamers, we unlocked a new untapped audience that created a significant amount of incremental revenue.

Conversation: The Galaxy character and our influencer-led strategy captured the gaming world’s attention:

  • The Fortnite activity generated 202 million earned impressions in influencer channels and an additional 208 million impressions in PR
  • And by taking care to appear in an authentic way we generated 95% average positive sentiment across influencer posts
  • Going beyond the terms of his contract, Ninja described Galaxy as “the best skin in the game – fact”

Young gamers were so obsessed, they uncovered a loophole in demo phones in carrier stores to get it.

Interest: We saw large spikes in traffic for the Note9 directly attributable to the Fortnite promotion:

  • Overall search traffic for Note9 increased by +97% after the release of the Fortnite promotion
  • 1.6 million people visited the Fortnite promo pages and we converted this to interest as 23% of all traffic to the flagship phone section of Samsung.com came from this page
  • And this interest was from new customers: 96% of the traffic arriving from Ninja posts had never been to Samsung.com before

New Customer Acquisition: We unlocked new audiences through our bet on gaming and grew our topline revenue as a result:

  • We increased the number of 18-24 year old Note9 buyers by +243% versus Note8
  • We increased switchers from other brands by +28% versus Note8