Winner 2022

Technology & Telecoms


Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Entered by:

Starcom Worldwide


Conde Nast, Edelman

The Phone Of The Year Captures The Man Of The Year

The Challenge

When choosing a smartphone most people now look at camera quality first and foremost. A phone capable of taking very high-quality photos and videos is no longer a novelty, it is an expectation. But with so much choice in the market, when it comes to proving who is the best of the best, having the most impressive specs isn’t enough anymore. More megapixels and more cameras are the norm.

With so much camera-claim clutter, consumers are overwhelmed with choice and struggle to understand how devices really compare. That’s why, when launching the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G, we knew we had to cut through the noise with a different approach.

Consumers look to trusted sources – friends, influencers, celebrities, reviewers – to help make the right choice when it comes to buying any product. They want to see a product in action, being used in the real-world by real people. Seeing what a phone can capture in the context of culture is far more valuable than specs and claims.

That’s why, to showcase the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s powerful portrait photography, we set out to demonstrate the camera’s impressive credentials in a culturally relevant way.

Our goal was to prove the S21 Ultra could empower anyone to take professional, magazine-worthy photographs, by challenging a like-minded partner to capture something culturally iconic with it. The ultimate test of whether the S21 Ultra’s camera can take the highest quality photographs when the stakes are the highest they can be.

The Content Solution

We approached publications known for taking the world’s most beautiful, iconic images. Our ambition was to give them the Galaxy S21 Ultra so they could take visually striking photos that would be seen all over the world – that would turn heads and get people talking.

GQ rose to the challenge. GQ’s Men of the Year issue is one of the most highly-anticipated cultural events of the year. It is a global event hosted in major cities across the world that celebrates the best innovators, musicians, sportspeople, and celebrities – both on a global and local level.

Impressed by the quality of the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s camera, GQ agreed to use the smartphone to shoot the front cover of their magazine. Any not just any front cover. They would use it for arguably their most important photograph of the year: the cover shoot of their Men of the Year edition.

For the first time in the magazine’s history, the cover photo would be shot using a smartphone. The image would not only adorn the cover, but would be seen, discussed and shared in articles and social media posts everywhere.

As well as shooting the all-important cover image, the Galaxy S21 Ultra was also used to capture content on-the-ground at awards events in cities all over the world. Together with GQ, the Galaxy S21 Ultra brought to life the vital stories of figureheads who are helping to overturn conventions and drive change in their industries.

The Media/Content Amplification Solution

GQ’s Men of the Year 2021 celebrated “The Year of the Brave,” recognizing cultural icons who raised their voices, overturned conventions, and set bold examples, summoning the courage to do what was difficult and the strength to do what was right.

GQ’S 26th annual MOTY honourees were rewarded for persistence, pushing back, and presenting a new masculinity.

• The Musician: Lil Nas X
• The Athlete: Giannis Antetokounmpo
• The Superhero: Tom Holland

World-leading photographer Pari Dukovic, who has shot portrait features for Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, Time, W and Harper’s Bazaar, used the Galaxy S21 to capture the Lil Nas X cover and all the photography that would make it into the supporting editorial features.

Working with GQ we ensured the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G was central to the activation and amplification of the awards, as well as on-the-ground events. Samsung was the headline sponsor of the marquee at the West Hollywood event, with branding featured on the red carpet and across all event collateral.

The Galaxy S21 was used by GQ’s on-the-ground photography team to capture the event, with the images used in subsequent press coverage in the likes of Variety, Entertainment Tonight, Today, NBC News, Fashionista, ESPN, Billboard, BBC Minute, FOX, Huff Post, NBA Today and MTV.

The GQ editorial team created editorial content to tell the story behind the iconic Men of the Year cover. They posted Instagram stories (that also linked to the Samsung US handle) showing how the Galaxy S21 Ultra was being used to take the all-important shot of Lil Nas X that made it onto the cover.

They created a feature story to tell this behind-the-scenes story that ran in the same Men of the Year edition. The editor, Will Welch, even made a rare direct reference to the collaboration with Samsung in his monthly letter. The editorial team created behind-the-scenes videos at both the cover shoot and local award events – all using the Galaxy S21 Ultra camera.

Samsung Galaxy played a pivotal role in a cultural moment. By capturing and amplifying the iconic images that accompanied the 2021 Men of the Year, the Galaxy S21 Ultra garnered worldwide attention and demonstrated its credentials in a real-world setting.

The Result

The collaboration drove significant global exposure for the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. The 2021 Men of the Year generated 360 global headlines, 18m specific social media newsfeed impressions and 18.6bn impressions across all media coverage.

Content related to the cover story and Galaxy S21 Ultra integration generated 8.7m video views across Conde Nast platforms, 6.4m Youtube views and 2.1m Facebook and TikTok views. This embedded-in-culture media exposure would be impossible to replicate in typical paid advertising.

As a result, the partnership drove significant lifts in brand impact, including purchase intent. Samsung brand preference lifted 16% across all activation markets, and drove uplifts in perceptions related to the camera and brand in general:

  • An uplift of 26% in great photography impression (Middle East)
  • 4 in 5 of those exposed to the partnership said that they felt favourable towards Samsung (US)
  • Amongst those exposed to the global digital media amplification, there was a statistically significant 11% increase in likelihood to recommend the Samsung Galaxy S21 vs. the control group
  • Direct exposure to the print edition coverage increased next phone consideration by 13% (US)
  • The partnership helped position the S22 Ultra’s camera as industry-leading and showcasing the impressive feature set in a meaningful, tangible way for consumers.

More importantly, this partnership helped Samsung build equity for its camera quality in a highly competitive category. This helped us ship 35m S21 devices in 2021, and crucially, has continued to pay dividends through record-breaking Q2 sales for its latest S-Series flagship devices in 2022.

That’s what happens with the phone of the year captures the Men of the Year.