Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, a New York City PR Firm that specializes in corporate, consumer and crisis PR.
I can neither confirm nor deny the following story. Some have sworn it happened. Others are equally convinced it’s hoax. Either way, it’s some interesting PR in this generation’s version of the Cola Wars.
Recently a “news” article has been floating around alleging that Samsung owed Apple some cash. Five million dollars, so the story goes. So the CEO of Samsung paid the bill…in nickels.
Of course, that’s not likely possible, and the fact is the story is an obvious hoax. But it does present an interesting public relations exercise. See, for all intents and purposes, Samsung vs. Apple is this generation’s big corporate fight. In the 1980s we had the Cola Wars, where Coke pitted itself against Pepsi in a winner-take-all battle royal for every school, bus station, restaurant and taste bud in America.
You ended up with Coke People and Pepsi People. And those who preferred neither, but only drank sodas from one manufacturer or another.
Today we have Galaxy people and “i” people. Phones and tablets made to go together sold to consumers who are equally sold on the superiority of their product.
That’s why rumors such as the settlement mentioned above make for interesting public relations. Because those sorts of rumors have to start somewhere.
So…a few questions.
Why would consumers just accept that Samsung would owe Apple in the first place? And why would they expect the CEO of a multibillion-dollar company to be so snarky? Interesting questions that bleed into the understanding of the identity tied up in being either Samsung Guy or an Apple Guy. People aren’t just buying products, they are taking sides. Making these items part of who they are as a person.
Ronn Torossian says this is a very interesting dynamic from which to begin a PR campaign. Should the companies work to deepen this feeling of solidarity and widen the emotional gap between the groups? Rumors like the one above certainly do.
But does that strengthen the brand? Just ask Ford People or Chevy People. Mercedes Guys or BMW Guys. This sort of product positioning works. And it works very well…if it’s handled properly.
See, this sort of messaging can be easy to mess up. Do it wrong and you come off looking petty, churlish somehow. But pull it off and you can create a generational loyalty to your products.