Samsung’s new Galaxy Z Flip 3 is the company’s most definitively fashion-oriented phone. It looks cool on screen, and feels even cooler when you’re holding it in your hand. Seeking that elusive it factor, Samsung took its collaboration with pop group BTS to a new level in 2021.
BTS has been Samsung ambassadors since 2020. This year, though, Samsung got BTS member SUGA to remix its theme tune, “Over the Horizon.” I can’t emphasize how much OTH is attached to Samsung’s identity; it’s been the company’s theme since 2011 and it’s the default ringtone on all Samsung smartphones.[embedded content]
While there have been plenty of other Samsung musical partnerships over the years, including other remixes of “Over the Horizon” (and personally, I’ll never forget 2007’s Beyonce Phone), the BTS “ARMY” are a rare cultural phenomenon. They’re passionately coherent and organized in the way many fandoms aren’t. So the ability to have a SUGA version of your phone’s theme tune —as well as the implied promise of more exclusive BTS content in the future—could push phones in a way that, say, Robert Downey Jr failed to do for HTC.
Especially in the US, no level of marketing dollar has been able to pry iPhones out of celebrities’ hands, or reduce the stigma of “green bubbles” among well-off youth. (On iMessage, texts from Android phones appear in green.) We’ve seen a lot of celebrity promoters briefly wave around a phone at an event, and then sit down and send out their own tweets “posted by Twitter from iPhone.” It happens over and over again.
BTS, on the other hand, are from Korea, where Samsung has a much more powerful (and patriotic) cultural profile and Apple is a foreigner. While the pop group’s fans are global, it’s possible that the stars themselves may feel more of a connection to Samsung than to Apple.
The relationship between BTS and its fans is an intense thing. I tweeted jokingly about how the remix means that Samsung has now hit the big time in Korea, and the tweet got more than 158,000 impressions in two hours. I am not that big a deal. The BTS ARMY is.
So I posed the question: would this get them to put their money where their love is?
And the answer is—it looks like there’s a chance. To listen to the fans, they trust that BTS have a real connection with Samsung.
I’m a phone analyst, with a specialty in 5G, who doesn’t know much about K-pop. But this seems like the ultimate test of a celebrity endorsement. I’ll be curious to see if the ARMY mobilizes to make Z Flip sales flip out.