How Samsung turned the Tube map circle to show off a new tool

How Samsung turned the Tube map circle to show off a new tool
The Media Plan

Samsung’s Galaxy S24 smartphone launched with a new AI-powered feature: Circle to Search with Google.

But in a competitive and inflationary environment, getting consumers to upgrade to a new smartphone can be a challenge, especially when new AI features can seen as “scary” to some while not particularly groundbreaking for others.

Publicis Groupe media agency Starcom was tasked with designing a campaign to promote the phone and decided to lean in to its most exciting new feature.

Accordingly, the agency created a “hero idea” — redesigning the London Tube map in partnership with Transport for London (TfL) to reflect the Galaxy S24’s Circle to Search feature.

Samsung Starcom Circle to Search

As Tamara Schmidt, Starcom’s business director, said: “Samsung were the first Android smartphone brand to launch and market this feature in partnership with Google, so we planned to capitalise on this by connecting the Circle to Search with Google feature with a famous circle that Londoners would see every day – the Circle line.”

By creating the association between Samsung and circles, according to Schmidt, it would “cement it in the public consciousness early on, as the tech wouldn’t be exclusive to us for long”.

Leveraging TfL data

Samsung hoped to target affluent, tech-savvy Gen Z and millennial professionals in London.

So the core of the campaign leaned on the Tube as an area to create unique advertising that would have wide reach in its target demographics. Starcom and Samsung approached TfL to create the eye-catching creative, replacing a number of Tube maps at high-traffic stations on the Circle line using first-party TfL data. In total, 100 OOH sites were utilised across 24 stations.

“We used TfL’s data to identify the busiest stations on the Circle line and, where relevant, mapped this to retail as well,” Schmidt explained.

King’s Cross, for instance, was identified as a key location as it is not only the busiest station on the Circle line, but it is also closely located to Samsung’s flagship store in Coal Drops Yard. Other Circle line locations included Blackfriars, Westminster, Liverpool Street and Paddington.

Samsung Starcom Circle campaign3

“The element we’re most proud of is the extremely strong collaboration between all parties, enabling us to do something never been done before that got everyone talking,” continued Schmidt.

“Samsung, Starcom and TfL worked very closely on the initial ideation and the TfL team identified places at key stations on the Circle line where we could create bespoke media executions — where normally there are no OOH sites. Iris worked with the TfL creative team and Samsung’s in-house creative studio to develop the creative execution and Global took us on numerous site tours so that we could collectively identify the best stations and sites for this to come to life.”

Increased reach through partnerships

In addition to the OOH activity, to emphasise the link between the campaign and the Galaxy S24, Samsung created a social activation, inviting 100 runners to run 24km around the Circle line, sharing their progress as they visited 24 stations en route.

Media partnerships further improved reach. These included advertising on ITV’s Saturday nights, Bauer’s radio network and an agreement with the British Photography Awards to create a mobile phone photography competition.

These partnerships were pursued to “deliver the campaign message at scale, providing a deeper brand connection and better understanding of the product features”, Schmidt explained.

Samsung also worked with in-game advertising company Livewire to create a gaming activation in Fortnite, known as the Ultra Arcade. Akin to the Circle to Search OOH campaign, the Fortnite games sought to “bring to life” additional AI product features offered by the Galaxy S24 Ultra, such as Live Translate and Nightography, and employed popular Twitch streamers to show the activations to their audiences.

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