Perhaps you’ve seen the latest addition to the celebrity selfie digital photo album: Red Sox superstar (according to our resident Sox expert, Liz Mitchell) David Ortiz and President Obama. The photo was taken during a White House visit by the team. Ortiz pulled out his phone to snap a pic with the President, which is nothing out of the ordinary. But it turns out that Ortiz is a spokesperson for Samsung, the maker of the smartphone on which the photo was taken. While Ortiz and some members of the team knew that there was a promotional tie to this particular selfie, the President did not.
Ortiz is a “social media insider” for Samsung and was “coached prior to the visit.” The selfie was retweeted by Samsung, which noted that it was taken with the “Galaxy Note 3.” CBS This Morning does a good job of breaking down the story — and the controversy — here:
Wall Street Journal advertising reporter Suzanne Vranica thinks this is a win for Samsung, which is trying to become “synonymous with the selfie” and, at the same time, take a swipe at Apple.
However, I’ll have to agree with Gayle King’s assessment of this move: “Groooaaannnn.” The idea of including someone, especially the President, in a marketing ploy without their prior knowledge and consent is dishonest and selfish.
Samsung was involved with Ellen DeGeneres’ famous selfie, but there’s a difference between the Oscar selfie and this one. The Oscars is one huge marketing opportunity — for Hollywood, for the movies, the production companies, the actors and the fashion designers who dress everyone. So a selfie that’s taken on a Samsung phone is most assuredly going to get tossed into that mix and everyone knows it.
In this case, clearly the White House wasn’t expecting this and they’re not happy.
“As the rule the White House objects to attempts to use the president’s likeness for commercial purposes. We object in this case,” said Press Secretary Jay Carney.
This is the sort of thing that will make people dislike you, Samsung. You may start seeing famous people slink away when they see a Galaxy approaching.