Samsung Tricked The President Into a Taking a Product Placement Selfie

Wednesday, April 02, 2014 - 03:30 PM

President Obama, speaking Wednesday at Union Depot in St. Paul, Minnesota

BloombergBusinessweek has a tiny tick-tock about how on Tuesday, the Boston Red Sox went to the White House for a press event. Red Sox player David Ortiz at one point, "spontaneously" whipped out his phone and took a selfie with Obama. 

Setting aside the VERY uninteresting question of whether a picture you take of yourself with a group of people is a literal "selfie," the salient point is that Samsung actually orchestrated the whole thing without the President's knowledge. Obama didn't know that Ortiz's selfie-exuberance was meant to promote Samsung's phone. Ellen's famous Oscar selfie also turned out to be a Samsung stunt.

What a weird advertising strategy! First, because, who really reads a story about a Presidential selfie and thinks, "I MUST know what kind of phone camera took that terrific photo!" And second, because the few people nerdy enough to find out the answer to that question are probably also nerdy enough to learn that the whole selfie opportunity had a whiff of scammy orchestration. Like, for this to work as an advertisment, some large percentage of people need to have this conversation: 

Hey, I love your new Samsung phone! How'd you hear about it? 

Oh, I fell in love with them after they tricked the President and a bunch of famous actors into being in their ads for free. I'm just a sucker for viral cheekiness.

This seems like a crazy plan. Right?


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Comments [2]

C.R. from Los Angeles

O.K. But does Samsung make a phone with a "selfie camera," i.e. a front-facing camera equal to (as far as lens, megapixels, and flash) its back-facing camera? If they made a camera-phone with selfie features superior to other phones, then I'd be impressed. Without that, all this "viral marketing" is vapid.

Apr. 03 2014 08:48 PM
E F from New York City

Loathe disrespect to President Obama. Shame on that brand. Oscars stunt was obvious, because Degeneres mentioned the brand more than once. That athlete should be ashamed of himself. Aside from money, why would a celebrate associate him/herself with that brand when it's so apparent it just copies Apple?

Apr. 03 2014 10:00 AM

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TLDR is a short podcast and blog about the internet by Meredith Haggerty. You can subscribe to the TLDR podcast here. You can follow our blog here. I tweet @manymanywords and @tldr.

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