The Galaxy Brand is Dead

I’m positive the Note brand is dead. If Samsung has the gal to bring out a Note 8 next year, the tagline has to be “it won’t explode, we promise…again…seriously this time.” That’s not a great pitch.

The death blow may have already been thrown weeks ago, but for me it was when the FAA announced that Note 7’s were going to be straight up banned from going on any domestic aircraft. Not just turned off, not just checked and in the luggage are, but not on the plane at all. Here’s a bit from the Washington Post:

“We recognize that banning these phones from airlines will inconvenience some passengers, but the safety of all those aboard an aircraft must take priority,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement. “We are taking this additional step because even one fire incident inflight poses a high risk of severe personal injury and puts many lives at risk.”

And then there’s this:

SNL did a Galaxy Note 7 joke, but they didn’t specify the Note part. The “Samsung Galaxy 7” is all they called it, and that’s what I see a lot of late night hosts saying in their punchlines as well. It’s the “Galaxy 7” that’s blowing up, the “Note” part of the name just doesn’t fit in. Whether that’s a good or bad thing, it does push this impression that Samsung Galaxy phones are dangerous.

15 years ago we freaked out about phones giving us cancer (they won’t), now we’re talking about a phone that might explode next to your head. This is stunningly bad PR, and I don’t know if the Galaxy brand can bear it.

The iPhone is the strongest brand in smartphones, and it would be hard to argue that Galaxy isn’t the second strongest. These brands can take a lot of abuse and come out ahead, but the extent that the Galaxy brand is being dragged through the mud is unprecedented. This is a particularly mainstream recall, and I would be you there are more people who can tell you what phone brand is blowing up than can tell you who both vice president candidates are.

People have short memories, so maybe Galaxy is sticking around, but if I was at Samsung I’d have my marketing team working overtime to find a new brand we can transition to quickly.