Failure happens: BMX star Sarah Walker muses on a rough year for Samsung

It’s no secret that Samsung had a tough 2016, with its Galaxy Note 7 malfunction issues becoming the subject of countless news stories, parodies and memes.

In causing a severely bruised ego for Samsung, the resulting Galaxy Note 7 recall will also deliver a heavy financial hit to the tune of US$5.3 billion, globally.

While this was one of the biggest tech stories of the year, failure is something that innovative brands need to expect from time to time.

Whether it’s Google WaveMicrosoft Vista or the Apple Pippin console, all major technology brands have made a few moves they probably regret.

Or maybe not. As shown in a recent the recent Idealog series, The F Word, many prominent innovators view failure as an important part of the process. It’s seen as a stepping stone to what makes a brand great. 

And with this in mind, it’s not altogether surprising that Samsung has opted to embrace failure, rather than veering away from it, in a new Colenso BBDO spot featuring Kiwi BMX star Sarah Walker.    

The bold 60-second ad plays out on a BMX track with Walker giving a rundown of her failure to qualify for the Rio Games.

The script in the ad might be focused on Walker’s career, but the subtext on failure could just as easily be applied to Samsung’s story.

“Failing is awesome,” Walker says. "If you don't fail, you’re not really pushing the boundaries to see what’s possible.”

Then, in telling the story of how she crashed in the practice run at the World Games, Walker puts a positive spin on what would’ve otherwise been a devastating experience for her. 

“It was proof I was giving 100 percent and there was nothing more I could give. It’s part of the story and it’s part of what makes me who I am. I’m not going to let fear control what I do.”

By delivering this narrative, Samsung does two things: firstly, it openly admits that it has suffered a pretty big failure; and secondly, it reassures customers that it’s not going to stop pushing the bounds when it comes to product development.

On the other side, the ad does, however, serve to remind viewers (albeit subtly) of the brand’s failure, which could in turn lead to Samsung being associated with failure for longer than necessary.

That said, the real test of what consumers think of the brand will only come when Samsung goes into product launch mode later this year.

This story first appeared at StopPress.