New Samsung ad targets African-American families

Gearing up for the holiday gift-buying frenzy, smart phone companies seem to be pulling in all the stops in order to gain an edge in today’s competitive mobile market.

But South Korean electronics giant Samsung, known for its snarky commercials that slam Apple’s iPhone, seems to be taking a different, more friendly marketing strategy to beat out the stiff competition this holiday season — tapping into the minority demographic.

Their new commercial, titled  “Family Photo,” features a mostly African-American family attempting to take a holiday portrait with the new Samsung’s Galaxy Note II.  The commercial highlights the Galaxy Note II’s newest feature, called “best shot,” which allows users to save individual shots of a group, then combine them into one photo at the end. The lighthearted and humorous commercial depicts a suburban family’s  impatience to stay still for the photo, but in the end the mother is pleasantly surprised that a greeting-card worthy picture was taken.

“Family Photo” isn’t the first attempt that Samsung has made to showcase African-Americans in their ads. Sports Illustrated‘s Sportsman of the Year LeBron James was featured in a series of  Galaxy Note II commercials in November that gave a snapshot into Miami’s black urban community. With his Galaxy II in hand, LeBron gives a tour of his day-to-day activities in the ad, which include breakfast in his lavish Miami home, a stop at an urban street food truck, a haircut at the local black barber shop and finally a Miami Heat’s game.

Even Samsung’s launch parties for the Galaxy featured African-American performers such as hip-hop star Kanye West in New York and ‘New West Coast King’ Kendrick Lamar in Los Angeles.

A-list black celebrities that attended these launch parties include Jennifer Hudson, Melanie Fiona, Jaleel White and Octavia Spencer.

Indeed, Samsung may have the right idea to target African-Americans, who happen to be one of the fastest growing demographic within the smart phone market.

According to a 2012 Nielson Mobile Insights report, minorities are far more likely than white Americans to use smart phones. In fact, more than fifty percent of all African-American mobile users are smart phone users. In addition, 2011 data from the “State of the African-American Consumer” noted that African-American adults owned smartphones at a 22 percent higher rate than the overall population.

“Samsung understands that individuals in the urban market are amongst the first adopters to utilize smart phones and gadgets,” says tech specialist and creative editor Sajjad Musa, from the urban technology web magazine DFRAGG. “Apple for quite some time has had a chokehold on this demograph [sic] due to their popularity amongst creatives and pop culture mass appeal.  In an attempt to debase Apple’s cool factor, Samsung has tried to make strides with their ads featuring LeBron James, The Apple Waiting Line parody and their Best Face Family Photo commercial.”

While this new marketing ploy may seem promising, Samsung still has a lot of catching up to do to compete with smart phone juggernaut Apple.

According to a Nielson report in July, Apple has the highest manufacturer share of smart phone handsets, leading with a 34 percent share versus Samsung’s share of only 17 percent.

However, among consumers with Android operating systems, Samsung is narrowly leading the market against competitors  Motorola and HTC who own 14 and 11 percent of the market respectively.

Follow Brittany Tom  on Twitter @brittanyrtom