Marketing Gamification: How Samsung used 5 Game Mechanics to promote the Galaxy S4

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Marketing Gamification or How Samsung used 5 Game Mechanics to highlight the benefits of the Galaxy S4: Samsung Galaxy S4 Staring Contest Case of Study.

Marketing Gamification

When the Galaxy S4 was launched in May 2013, Samsung clearly oriented its marketing strategy to build hype around a series of exclusive features with a blatant move to attack the iPhone not on the design and user experience but rather on innovative trademark “s-features” such as Smart Stay, Smart Rotation, Smart Pause, Smart Scroll, etc.

The “Graduation Pool Party” TVC set a milestone in the rivalry between Samsung and Apple. In a nutshell, through this brand commercial, Samsung sends a very aggressive message to the market which is “the iPhone is the phone of your parents, the GS4 is the next generation’ smartphone”.

Samsung is a great global marketing company when it comes to unifying marketing across the globe. The mandate of communicating exclusively on features to damage the iPhone’s market shares has produced a very successful marketing campaign in Switzerland.

The brief: educate users about the Smart Pause feature and create hype on Social Media.

First of all the ‘Smart Pause’ feature is a feature that pauses a video on your S4 when you look away from the screen. So what Samsung did is to challenge passers-by in a staring contest in Zurich central station. People that would be able to stare at the Galaxy S4 placed on an eye-detection device for one hour would ship a brand new S4 home. And they did not make it easy as you can see in the video:

Let’s cut to the chase and identify which set of games mechanics was deployed here to create one of 2013’s most viral brand marketing campaign (+3.5 million views) and one of most sucessful cases of marketing gamification.

1. Behavioural Momentum: The tendency of players to keep doing what they have been doing

  • Stare at the phone / eye detector device for one hour without looking away.

2. Urgent Optimism: The desire to act immediately to tackle an obstacle combined with the belief that we have a reasonable hope of success.

  • Everyone walking around during the campaign was invited to participate. Simple rules and immediate incentive made the rest.

3. Progression Dynamics: A dynamic in which success is granularly displayed and measured through the process of completing itemized tasks.

  •  Instead of using a countdown (another game mechanic), Samsung used a progression bar that the player had to push to up to 100%.

4. Disincentives: a game element that uses a penalty (or altered situation) to induce behavioural shift

  • if the player look away from the machine, he or she is out of the game

5. Blissful Productivity: the idea that playing in a game makes you happier working hard, than you would be relaxing. Essentially, we’re optimized as human beings by working hard, and doing meaningful and rewarding work.

  • A series of unexpected and hilarious distractions were set-up to make it harder for players. This significantly contributed to the make the campaign viral.

In summary, while it’s not the first campaign of this kind, it’s a very well executed marketing gamification idea by Samsung to highlight product benefits using 5 simple game mechanics.

Did you know about this campaign? Do you know any other example of marketing gamification? Please share you knowledge on the comments!


*Game Mechanics Definition from SCVNGR list

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