Here’s the thing, in a nutshell: One of the oldest subway stations in Madrid, the centric Sol station, located in the very heart of the Spanish capital, has been renamed “Sol Galaxy Note” as part of the latest advertising campaign for Samsung’s most recent device, the Samsung Galaxy Note. This new device is being marketed by the South Korean company as a hybrid between smartphones and tablets that provides its lucky owners with the best of both worlds. Or so would Samsung have us believe. The new name will be in place on every banner at the station for one month.
This whole thing feels very, very wrong. And silly. And quite frankly, it sounds ridiculous. Now, I’m not saying this to attack Samsung or Google, although I do question whether they’re making the right decision here. What feels wrong is that they’re taking one of the most iconic places in the city and changing its name just for the hell of it. Whatever obscene amount of money the city may have decided to charge for it, it doesn’t matter. Some things are just not messed with. The Sol station has always been a landmark where people meet, one of the most recognizable spots in all of Madrid ever since it first opened its gates in 1919. Well, not anymore.
I don’t know about the rest of Madrid’s citizens, but there’s something about this that deeply offends me on a very personal level. And, though the ultimate responsible is of course the government of the city, I cannot help but feel a certain sense of animosity towards any company that would decide to advertise its products in such an intrusive, disrespectful way. I would imagine that no one in their right mind is going to look at the new banners at the station and cheerfully march on to the closest store to buy a brand new Galaxy Note, while chanting “thanks for reminding us, Samsung!”. In fact, if you’re anything like me, this puts the very product that’s being advertised in the negative part of your subconscious, where money is nonexistent and reactions are hostile. You do not want to be there, Samsung, trust me.
Companies should be very cautious about the reactions their ads evoke on people. If you miss the mark, you may find yourself on a slippery slope that goes down all the way to irrelevance. Actually, the Samsung Galaxy Note seems to be doing a fine job of that on its own, I don’t think it needs any more help from its makers to get there.
Madrid’s Sol station is quite simply the Sol station. Not the Sol Galaxy Note station, or the iSol station, or the Windows Sol Enterprise Edition Service Pack 3 station. If we start changing those things, pretty soon we’re going to wake up in a city that will feel alien to the people that built it and shaped it into what it is today. And that’s something you just don’t do.