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Samsung Spends Big on Ads to Take Over Heathrow Airport Terminal



If you’re traveling through London’s Heathrow Airport these next two weeks, specifically through the very busy Terminal 5, you might think you’ve entered into a strange new world owned by Samsung and its new Galaxy S5 smartphone. Samsung has been known to spend big on advertising its products, and it is doing so again, launching a two week advertising campaign in Heathrow airport’s Terminal 5. That campaign will mean travelers will be inundated with ads touting Samsung’s latest flagship phone. Big deal? Yes and no.


It’s a big deal because of the money spent for the exposure. It’s not a big deal because companies have done this kind of thing before. We’re used to sports stadiums, sporting and arts events being branded with sponsorship naming opportunities. We’ve got U.S. stadiums named after Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint. The former T-Mobile Arena in Prague now has an affiliation with Tesla. We’re also used to all forms of content being the “brought to you buy” kind of advertising/sponsorship. And, as any air traveler will tell you, airports are filled with advertisements for all sorts of products that appeal to those on the go.

Humorously, Samsung might have gone a little over the top in its press release language describing its efforts though. The press release made it sound like Samsung’s rebranding of Heathrow’s Terminal 5 as “Terminal Samsung Galaxy S5” would see a take over of all “signage, wayfinding, website, and every digital screen” in the airport. You can see the full press release at the end of this post.

Some who saw the press release even got a little concerned that travelers might get confused by the “takeover,” prompting Heathrow Airport to respond to concern expressed by at least one website, iMore, by saying”

“Heathrow Terminal 5’s signage and passenger wayfinding has not changed,” a Heathrow spokesperson told iMore. “Samsung have rented advertising space in Terminal 5 with a tongue-in-cheek campaign using the line: ‘Terminal Samsung Galaxy S5’.”

Exaggeration? In an advertising campaign? Essentially Samsung would be just buying lots of advertising that is available to anybody and with tongue planted firmly in cheek, proclaiming a branding takeover for two weeks. What is that old public relations maxim about spelling your name right?

So, what’s the big deal? As mentioned previously we’ve seen this kind of thing before. Here in Chicago, during the launch period of the second edition of Microsoft Surface tablets, billboards and signage were everywhere in the Chicago market. In fact, my wife noticed on the way home from an audition downtown that Microsoft and the Chicago Transit Authority not only put up ads, but repainted the interior of some train cars with Surface colors and info. Her comment, “those colors are hideous.”

If Samsung’s Heathrow campaign works I would imagine we’ll see more of these kind of advertising, sponsorship, and branding opportunities. It only makes sense. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point in the future, we’ll see iBeacons or some similar technology blasting smartphone advertising notifications to passengers as they hit the arrival gate after landing. You know its coming.

Certainly that kind of obtrusive advertising will turn off some, prompting travelers to turn off their smartphones in ways that would make airline officials envious. Mobile tech is a pervasive part of our lives. It is certainly so for those who travel through airports. As cash strapped or cash greedy municipalities and real estate developers work to improve the bottom line, I’m surprised that we haven’t already seen some sort of Google sponsored way of cutting admission prices in exchange for naming rights at some events and event centers. Why shouldn’t gadget makers compete for our attention in the same way that cellular carriers and other corporations do?

16th May 2014, London, UK – Samsung is set to dominate the world’s busiest terminal by rebranding Heathrow Terminal 5 as ‘Terminal Samsung Galaxy S5.’ The activity, in conjunction with JCDecaux Airport, is set to raise awareness of Samsung’s flagship mobile and is the first time Heathrow has permitted a brand takeover of Terminal 5.

The revolutionary two-week campaign, which kicks off on 19 May, sees Samsung take over the signage, wayfinding, website and every single digital screen at the UK’s newest terminal to promote the launch of its iconic Galaxy S5 mobile. Reaching the thousands of passengers who travel through the terminal each day, this extraordinary partnership will take Samsung brand awareness to a whole new level.

Russell Taylor, Vice President, Corporate Marketing, at Samsung Electronics UK & Ireland, said: “We are always looking for ways to maximise brand impact and this activity is testament to that. The partnership with Heathrow Airport and JCDecaux Airport was a one-off opportunity to push the boundaries like no other brand has been allowed to do before.”

The initiative includes all signage throughout the Terminal Samsung Galaxy S5 terminal – at the entrance and drop-off locations, in the lounges, at security and at the gates. In addition, all 172 digital panels in the main terminal, gate rooms and baggage reclaim areas will feature the rebrand ‘Terminal Samsung Galaxy S5’ and images of the Galaxy S5 smartphone.

Online visitors to the Terminal 5 site will also experience a rebranded ‘Terminal Samsung Galaxy S5’ home page. In addition, signage in the airport lounges will drive passengers to the Dixons Travel stores where they can try out the phone for themselves.

image via Engadget and Terminal 5 Insider



  1. Jamie

    05/18/2014 at 12:14 pm

    They are just wasting their money . Samsung is a waste of Plastic

  2. trb

    05/18/2014 at 2:12 pm

    Pity they didn’t spend it on sorting out the 6-month-old mess that passes for an OS on my S3.

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