Perhaps the biggest surprise winner at the Oscars last night was the often-overlooked marketing stratagem of product placement.
Samsung took the honors in the You Get What You Pay For category. Combine the sociability of Ellen DeGeneres with the social-networkability of Twitter and the purchase of more than five minutes of ad time that was going at about $1.8 million per :30 and, voila, you have a star-studded shot taken with a Samsung Galaxy that was retweeted more than two million times by the end of the telecast, as The Guardian’s Caspar Llewellyn Smith reports.
“The world of selfies is divided into two classes: There are selfies, and then there are selfies that have Jennifer Lawrence sitting on Meryl Streep's lap,” writes MTV’s Kase Wickman. “The earth was on the receiving end of the latter type … when social media-happy host Ellen DeGeneres pulled together celebs from the first few rows of the audience — among them Lawrence, Streep, Channing Tatum, Lupita Nyong'o, Julia Roberts, Bradley Cooper, Brad Pitt and Kevin Spacey, as well as others — for what she called the "most retweeted selfie of all time.”
And she called it that before she even took it. Shortly after she did, it became a selfie-fulfilling prophecy.
“Twitter was momentarily disabled for some users and quickly broke the record for most-retweeted post,” reports Christopher Palmeri on the Wall Street Journal’s “LiveMint” blog.
The fact that it was a blatantly obvious marketing gimmick did not make it any the less effective.
As Chris Matyszczyk put it on CNET after DeGeneres took her first selfies on the telecast and before she assembled the willing and ever-toothy co-conspirators for the group shot: “‘Hey, I know,’ one wise Samsungite must have said. ‘How 'bout we pay Ellen a ton of money to take a selfie with one of our products?’”
“‘Oooh. That's so modern,’ a boss must have replied. ‘The kids will love that.’”
Sarcastic as that may seem, in a later post Matyszczyk counts himself among those who “admired how overtly Oscars presenter Ellen Degeneres integrated the vast Samsung phones into her performance” while reporting that 9to5Mac's Mark Gurman (@MarkGurman) had noticed that “she tweeted another selfie of herself and a very fine and famous face from backstage” using her iPhone.
Oh, well, Apple was a sponsor, too — and Gurman, for one, thought its 90-second iPad “Your Verse” spot was its “very best.”
Marketing Daily’s Aaron Barr has a piece this morning on Samsung’s 90-second online video for the 2014 Paralympic Games, “What’s your problem? Sport doesn’t care.” The campaign will run on TV networks worldwide, he reports, “as well as on Samsung’s social channels.” More opportunities for integrating some selfies?
One other marketer, a fast food chain, hit it big with a product placement on the Oscars last night. About midway through the show, DeGeneres suggested that the time was right for some pizza. When the deliveryman arrived, he was not — to my surprise, at least — from the likes of Dominos or Papa John’s but rather from 20-store Los Angeles-based chain called Big Mama’s and Papa’s Pizzeria.
The franchise operation was quick to post a YouTube video of the apparently free plug to its home page — much quicker than it has been to post any content to its FAQ section or to update its 2012 copyright line — but it was just as quickly blocked by AMPAS Oscars on copyright grounds.
But you can catch a slice of the action on the ABC News site, where Michael Howard reports “the man in the red baseball cap and maroon hoodie passing out slices to the star-studded crowd is an employee for the shop — and not an actor.” An employee at the restaurant that’s located “not too far from” the Dolby Theater told ABC News “Ellen’s talk show has picked up quite a few pizzas from us.”
Not everyone thought the protracted bit was Oscar-worthy.
“Who on earth thought this was a funny idea?” asks Slate’s L.V. Anderson. “And was the pizza any good?” She reports that it has a three-and-a-half-star average rating on Yelp along with some on the “worst pizza ever line” side and others in the “best pizza ever” camp.
“They seem to have a flair for the dramatic,” Anderson writes, reporting that when she tried to reach the manager of the store for an interview, she “was put on hold for several minutes and was treated to a recording of a guy reciting information about the franchise in a badly faked Italian accent over jaunty accordion music.”
Alas, that audio link is also broken. We can’t say whether its was blocked by the chain on copyright grounds or just a technical glitch at Slate. One thing we can say with confidence is that this Mama and Papa operation reached the stars.