The Power of Partnerships

As he always does, Peter Weedfald, Senior Vice President, Strategic Marketing & New Media, Samsung Electronics America, Inc., took the podium and assaulted the audience with his presence at the recent 2nd Annual Students + Leaders Conference: Entrepreneurs & Networking Leaders. He immediately entered into a vibrant discussion on a subject that his expertise is seldom unsurpassed in - the power of partnerships. Peter spoke about how he's become an entrepreneurial force within a massive corporation by conceiving and launching two foundations for children, but the way in which he was able to pull it all off is nothing short of strategic wizardry.

Knowing that his resources were too limited for his grand vision when he started, he decided early on to involve retailers with relationships to his company. He dangled free publicity in front of them, but to make the publicity irresistible, he involved celebrities. Why work for publicity when celebrities get it free of charge? Partnering a celebrity with a retailer for a good cause created an unusual challenge for a profits-focused corporation, until Peter demonstrated how unequivocal retailer support for his company's causes and brands contributed to increase in awareness and sales. Internally, innovation was brooding, so Peter's strategy functioned as the ideal platform at the perfect time to rejuvenate a brand. (Note: how he's increased awareness and sales for the brand are subjects discussed in countless other publications.)

Then Peter really wowed his industry by defining something that hadn't really been defined before: the purpose of consumer technology to consumers. It's a medium, not content or distribution. (And definitely not technology for technology's sake). Therefore, his next move was to partner with distributors, such as cable companies, and Hollywood studios. The goal was to have his holy trinity of media - technology, content, and distribution - work together, with his company as the endorsed leader of the pack.

To get everyone on the same page, Peter wielded his most potent tool of all - the internet. To underpin his partnership strategy, Peter initially partnered with top content brands to put together one of the largest online advertising networks around, with close to 2 billion monthly impressions. To put it in perspective, Yahoo! receives just under 300 million visitors to its homepage per month. With this network, Peter can deliver hundreds of different contextual graphical messages monthly, 365 days per week, 7 days per week, 24 hours per day. Curious? Visit any major news site and look for the Samsung button or banner on the homepage.

The exact nature of Peter's dealings with his partners remains a mystery forever locked in ambiguity, but the lesson isn't: work smarter, not harder. Partnering with top content companies, clients (i.e. retail partners), the best celebrity endorsers, and in Peter's case, customers, creates a self-perpetuating web that supports virtually any idea you want to launch. (Addendum: Partnerships are strategic; executing elements of the partnership are tactical. So if you're a marketer reading this, design the partnership first, not the campaign.)

If you had to replicate this, how much time do you think you'd need? Despite Peter's Herculean business schedule, he's actively involved in his foundations, has a family, and still makes time to talk to students. He's as accessible as your fun-loving uncle; he even spent an extra 90 minutes listening to and advising each and every single student that approached him after the event! Peter thrives on one meal a day, 3 to 4 hours of sleep per night, and a vicious deal-doing schedule, productive beyond the dreams of the best time-management consultants. It's not for the faint of heart; just hearing about it is exhausting. Without fault, Peter is a true scholar and a gentlemen to students who seek his wisdom.

Write to Al Berrios at


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