Exclusive: Samsung awards a different kind of filmmaker during the Oscars

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The brand taps YouTuber Casey Neistat to give an acceptance speech for the selfie stick generation.

If you’re going to take on Apple, vlogger Casey Neistat is your guy. The 35-year-old got his break with a film in 2003 that exposed "iPod’s Dirty Secret," which was the battery only lasts for 18 months before going kaput. Since then, he hasn’t kept his disappointment in Apple quiet, calling the brand’s marketing "just garbage" and revealing that there’s no need to play $12,000 for a gold Apple Watch when a can of gold spray paint, some painter’s tape and a xacto knife can create the same effect for $399. 

Neistat excels in disrupting, and Samsung has tapped him to do just that during the 2017 Oscars with a film titled "Samsung Galaxy: The Rest of Us" from Wieden + Kennedy. In just 60 seconds, Neistat challenges the establishment by introducing "the creators of this generation" who, like him, create—not because they have to—but because they love to. He narrates over a compilation of Internet videos that include makeup tutorials, skateboarding hijinks and gym rat selfies. "We don’t have big awards shows or fancy cameras, but what we do have are our phones," Neistat says. The ad itself was shot with a combination of fancy cameras (Samsung Gear 360, 35 mm and Canon 5D) and smartphones (Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge).   

"Casey has been a partner of ours for some time," said Samsung CMO Marc Mathieu in an email. In fact, the brand sent him to last year’s Oscars to film a 360-video using its VR camera. "He exemplifies our brand belief, which is ‘Do What You Can’t.’  Today, empowered by technology and a can-do attitude, you can accomplish anything."

You can even accomplish a strategic shift from product to brand, for example. Last year, Samsung lost at least $5.3 billion and public support when its Galaxy Note 7 batteries exploded, resulting in a recall. Since then, it’s tapped Neistat and other creators like fellow YouTuber Jesse Wellens and model Karlie Kloss to turn viewers away from the PR disaster and on to the inventive Samsung lifestyle.

While the brand will still air product-focused commercials, especially highlighting its new VR line, Mathieu says that there will also "be a focus on regaining consumers’ trust, reinforcing the role of our technology in their lives and successfully launching our next flagship devices, all anchored in placing the human—not just the product—first." Samsung will also place an increased emphasis on customer care to "reinforce its emotional investment and commitment to consumers."

To do this, Samsung will enforce the aforementioned tagline "Do What You Can’t" in "a multichannel approach beyond Sunday’s spot." This narrative approach differs starkly from the Galaxy A films of last year, in which humans were merely used as props to hold the phones. Now, Neistat will lead the charge as "a rallier of sorts for this generation of creators" with the message that Samsung phones are usurping Apple as artists’ phone of choice.

"We are targeting this generation of doers, people who go out and make things happen," Mathieu said. "Our goal is to ultimately empower consumers to realize their ambitions. If the phone in your pocket can do anything, so can you."