Jax Jung , global creative director for Samsung at Cheil Worldwide explains the technological advances that shaped a global brand, writes LBB’s Natasha Patel
Samsung is brand that has been on a fame rocket ship over the past 20 years. In 2000, Samsung was ranked 43rd in the world by Interbrand’s annual brand ranking and in 2019 it placed 6th. In 2013, a tipping point occurred when The Wall Street Journal asked, provocatively, “has Apple lost its cool to Samsung?”
. This was back when the Galaxy 5 and iPhone 5 were going head to head to be a favourite for consumers. And for Samsung it seems the advances have been happening quicker than ever.
Spare a thought, then, for the creatives that must keep up with the iterations, evolutions and revolutions of a world-leading tech brand. Jax Jung, global creative director at Cheil Worldwide, heads up the Samsung creative team. She does so from around the corner to the brand’s global headquarters in Seoul, South Korea. When she joined the business in 2012 they were working on briefs for the Galaxy 3 – now they’re on Galaxy 20. Eight years may not seem like a long time, but in terms of the technological advances that have happened under her tenure, it feels like a millennium. Jax explains: “Things are changing by the day. So much evolves every single day. It doesn’t feel that long when you put it in context, but when you look at the products, I’m like, ‘wow that looks like a phone from the ‘90s’. It’s so different and the specs are so different.”
In February of this year the brand marked a huge milestone by launching the Galaxy Z Flip. This phone is like no other as it uses bendable glass and can be compacted away or used full screen. Interestingly, this phone was modelled for the social media generation to be used for filming thanks to the stand-alone camera. “That phone was actually made because of Tik Tok and all of the influencers needing a phone to sit [and film] rather than them holding it up and trying to get a good shot”, explains Jax. She adds: “It’s always interesting how the culture always dictates what the technology or the product they’re going to launch next is”.
Speaking of culture, life has changed immeasurable amounts since the start of 2020, and as a society our needs for technology have evolved with that. The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that so many more of us are relying on mobiles and tablet devices to connect with others, work from home and receive news.
The Galaxy Note 20 is one such device. For Jax, having just come off the campaign, communicating this came at a perfect time. “The interesting part of this phone was that it’s always a productivity tool so we use Note because it has a pen, it really becomes the ultimate ‘do you need a computer? Do you need a phone? Do you need all of this?’ That’s that one device that challenges all of that because it is a smaller computer.
“It feels weird because we’re marketing this device during Covid and we’re advertising during a crisis, but I also do think this is when everyone is trying to figure out how to work from home without their proper office equipment, it actually came at the perfect time. That is what our whole communications around strategy were, not only can you use this as a work tool, it’s also a play tool so when you’re working from home and when you’re bored from lockdown you can use this as a gaming device. I think that’s what interesting about working in the tech field, things are changing as people need it.”
While things are changing as the needs of consumers evolve, there is also another element driving technological changes: competition. This competitiveness between the biggest tech brands in the game means that on many occasions if product information is leaked, changes are made to a device up to the day of the launch. Jax explains that while every upgrade isn’t that big in terms of numbers, in the feature war every single megapixel counts.
“When we get briefed on an original project it can be ‘our screens are going to be this big’ but working on it down the line it’s like ‘actually I think we can make it a little bit bigger’ or ‘it’s not quite there yet so we’re going to wait until the next launch to do that’. Then we have to shift direction in terms of how we’re communicating.”
The messaging around the products is a key part of Jax’s team’s role as creatives and so she explained exactly what happens a campaign is wrapped up and ready to go ahead of a product launch and changes happen at the last minute. “If you’re targeting the phone to be a game changer for cameras and something in the camera department isn’t right for the launch then we’re like ‘what are we going to talk about, what is the next best selling point in terms of what the consumers are expecting’ and we draw a story around that.
“In the first few years when you work on tech it is a lot of stress because of how fast everything moves, but I’ve done it long enough to predict what can change and there’s a lot more flexibility on how we’re thinking. The luxury of being a part of Samsung and the history is you can almost now predict what will change and what will not.”
With the team being based near to Samsung’s headquarters in Seoul, they are kept in the loop constantly with what is happening and being changed, which for Jax is a “luxury”.
However, in her opinion one of the biggest changes of the last decade is Samsung’s explosion as a global brand. And where Samsung has gone, a surge in the popularity of Korean culture around the world has followed. “In Korea they work so fast, they’re working non-stop and that pace and the way they work here is so quick that they work so hard to get the technology out there super quick. There are good reasons why there’s things coming from this side of the world that are working on a global scale. It was interesting to be a part of that and see that growth in the last few years.”
Of course, while the past decade has indeed seen technology leap ahead and Samsung’s global presence soar, this year accelerated that change like never before. Covid-19 has brought in changes that were years away in terms of tech adoption and innovation. For Jax, the most fascinating are perhaps the location-based advances that have come around. South Korea has been a world leader when it comes to tracking and tracing
citizens’ movements and outbreaks of Covid-19.
However, this amount of data and tracking also raises questions about privacy. Jax says she’s had the data privacy versus tech progress debate on many occasions but despite the tension points, she believes there are ways to use data for good. “I’m torn about it too when they have so much information about you, but I think if they use that to actually collect and understand you better then there could be services and ads tailored toward individuals. Maybe now you don’t need to see ads that you don’t need and only see things you do need. I think in terms of that it can be used in a good way as well.”
Perhaps it this reason that for Jax as a creative, her biggest inspirations don’t come from data but from observing people and their growing need for different parts of technology. And working for such a large global brand, putting these findings into campaigns gives them a connection with their audience that resonates.
If technology is, as Jax believes, made for habits of people and an instant way to solve the world’s problems then with Samsung investing more and more in new technology and research they may be key in shaping the world of tomorrow.