LG pokes fun at Apple
Firm’s marketing strategy against iPhone maker questioned
By Cho Mu-hyun
Such moves seem to go against LG’s initiatives for a unified front in brand and marketing strategy in promoting the whole family to claim “global” standards, given that the iPhone maker is an important business client and Chairman Koo Bon-moo has asked for “synergy” between affiliates.
LG Electronics released a newspaper add in all major local media Monday that has its Optimus G smartphone slice through a half eaten apple. The accompanying slogan reads: “A moment’s choice will decide your next two years,” encouraging consumers to buy its products over the iPhone maker’s.
It has also taken subtle swipes at Apple in recently released statements.
Announcing the recent 10 million sales of its L-series handsets, LG mobile chief Park Jong-seok states that “Whereas other manufacturers are putting all their eggs into a one-size-fits-all phone, our strategy is to develop mobile products for all types of customers according to their individual needs and lifestyles.”
The only manufacturer without variants of its handset line, a “one-size-fits-all phone” in the industry is Apple, making the target somewhat obvious.
Posters on the majority of stores owned by or affiliated with LG Uplus, the mobile carrier arm of LG Group, unabashedly slam the iPhone 5.
They contain mocking phrases such as, “iPhone 5? Really disappointing!” or “iPhone 5? It will stifle you the more you use it!” Other variants openly make fun of Apple’s latest offering to the local market.
They go into detail about what LG believes are unattractive features of the phone. They call the 4-inch screen “too small,” its download speed “80 percent of its competitors,” and “a phone that isolates a consumer by having no up-to-date apps available.” They note the absence of near field communication (NFC) and digital media broadcasting (DMB).
Though LG Uplus is unable to release the iPhone due to a frequency difference and LG Electronics competes with Apple directly in the smartphone market, its affiliate LG Display has a business relationship with the American company.
The group’s display panel subsidiary LG Display currently supplies in-plane switching panels to Apple, one of its biggest client.
Koo recently asked for synergy between LG affiliates to become a market leader which apparently has not been applied for a cooperative marketing campaign.
“Korea is yet to notice the importance of marketing like in the West,” said a senior executive of an overseas company declining to be named over the phone. “Apart from that, LG’s situation has improved but not enough to warrant a risk in losing valuable partnerships.”
He cited Samsung and Apple, who are both rivals and partners in the market and are careful to highlight that status, of how tension can escalate to the cutting of lucrative deals. “A friend-and-foe position requires a very sensitive approach in business. Like Samsung, it is best not to publically bring attention to that. Any small message whether in marketing or otherwise is dangerous,” said the executive. “It is understandable that each affiliate has different businesses in LG as well. But they must tread carefully.”
Its affiliate’s public attacks as part of its marketing campaign that on some occasions border on slander could escalate into unwanted tension.
LG representatives denied any intended attacks on Apple that may raise animosity that could affect their partnership.
“Our posters contain facts on the iPhone 5, and is not slander. It is just a fact that is has no NFC, no DMB. Its screen is comparatively small so that is also true. Other nuanced phrases are usually adopted for marketing. We are absolutely not targeting Apple as a company and the messages on the posters are not our official stance,” said LG Uplus spokesman Kim Sang-yeop.
LG Electronics spokeswoman Jinny Lee also denied any intended jab at Apple: “The ad was prepared to show the capabilities and true value of the Optimus G, which was chosen as the best smartphone both locally and globally. We wanted to highlight the fact that consumers must carefully scrutinize products on whether they have must-have features.” She added that in the L-series press release “we were just talking about our competitors in general.”
An LG Group spokesman said that the conglomerate respects its individual subsidiaries’ goals with different interests and business models that aim for efficiency.