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Phones

Samsung tells people something they've never heard before

Commentary: To launch its new Galaxy A8 and A8+ phones, Samsung remakes a famous YouTube video. To moving effect.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


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When you're told something you may not have expected.

Samsung; YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

When it comes to flattery, some people are weak.

Even when they're, say, leaders of the free world.

There are those, however, who don't necessarily hear compliments very often, if at all.

So to launch its new Galaxy A8 and A8+ phones, which were unveiled at CES, Samsung thought it would take pictures of people and tell those people they're beautiful.

Well, when I say Samsung took the pictures, that's not altogether accurate. 

The ad is the work of Shea Glover, who first attempted the idea in 2015 (video at the bottom). 

She now has a YouTube channel and that famous video, entitled "People React to Being Called Beautiful," has now enjoyed almost 18 million views.

The Samsung remake, though, is a moving tribute.

Glover asks strangers whether they'd mind if she photographed them.

It's only when they're in front of the camera that she tells them they were chosen because they're beautiful.

The fascination, of course, lies in the reaction of the subjects to being told this.

Some attempt faux bravado. Some are perplexed. Some, though, react in ways you might not expect.

One woman says: "I don't know. I don't get called that often."

Another volunteers, "I used to get bullied a lot for the way I looked and stuff."

For one man, though, this is all a complete surprise. "Usually I get called ugly or something, so that's a first."

Whether this will influence people to buy these new phones is debatable. 

The A8 does have a dual front camera that can create the same sort of artistic blurry backgrounds you'll get with a Note 8. So it's very much a selfie-obsessive's phone. And it's clear from the casting that the target market for this ad isn't people over 40.

But the phone plays a minimal role here. Moreover, remaking a famous video always invites comparisons. Despite the ad's emotional punch, few viewers, I fear, would favor it over the original clip.

So Samsung might hope that those who enjoy this commercial aren't familiar with the original video at all.

Something else may bear mentioning. Samsung bills the A8 as a phone that "lets you be you." 

Do we need permission to be ourselves? Yes, permission from technology, apparently. 

Isn't that beautiful?

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