Let’s get one thing straight. I am not gloating about the trouble Samsung is having with the Galaxy Note 7. I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank John Grundy for coming to our rescue when Samsung wanted to fire us for suggesting that they stop sending their TV sets out for editorial review until they were absolutely sure that their quality was ready for prime time.
It was the early 90s. HWH PR was the PR agency for all consumer electronics and computer products. We remained their agency for 17 years, largely due to the genius work of Russ Rowland. Thank you Harry Fox for introducing us to Samsung, and for helping us securing the account.
I remember being in Samsung’s conference room in Ridgefield Park, NJ, when I had the miserable task of telling the executives (that I reported to) that the TV set they sent out for a review to a major consumer publication was getting a failing grade. I was friendly with the editors at that magazine and they offered to ship the unit back without consequence. The truth was the Samsung TV was in such bad shape, the publication didn’t even want to bother giving it a bench test.
The Samsung team was incensed. They wanted to crucify me for allowing this to happen. I was just the messenger but they didn’t see it that way. The Samsung folks in New Jersey were assigned to secure as many editorial reviews as possible because the brand was barely known then. No one in Korea, or America, ever bothered to concern themselves with what the reviews might say. That was my worry.
It feels like it was yesterday. The daggers were coming at me. The Samsung team told me I was crazy for withdrawing the TV set. “What was I thinking?” “Was I a friend or foe?” The air was thick and all of the Americans who worked for the company sank into their conference room chairs while this encounter was happening.
Just when the ax was going to fall on my head, one of the Americans stood up and spoke out. His name was John Grundy. I barely knew him. He was one of the product managers. “Excuse me,” he said. “Are you not hearing what this woman is telling you? She is saving our brand. She is not allowing us to be embarrassed. We should thank her. Not scold her.”
Okay, I may not remember John’s exact words but that was the gist of it. Everyone went silent in the room. There was a long pause, until one of the Korean officials put a big smile on his face, and decided Samsung would actually start a quality control department. That was the good news. The challenging news was that HWH was now in charge of working with the Samsung technicians to make sure we not only secured good reviews, but “the Editor’s Choice” Awards as well.
More about how we managed to get a record -breaking number of product reviews for Samsung in a relatively short period of time, plus our challenging first encounter with Peter Weedfald, Samsung’s new marketing manager.
Installment 2 , tomorrow.
A memo to John Grundy. We don’t forget, thank you. 💋💋💋💋💋