Oops, Samsung Did It Again!

For all of the newness of what used to be called new media -- from Vine videos to hashtags -- this week proved that marketers have held on to one time-honored tradition no matter how digital they’ve gotten: not knowing when to stop.

Case in point: this week’s Samsung selfie, shot by Red Sox designated hitter and occasional first basemen David Ortiz, who turned a picture of himself with President Obama into a commercial enterprise. The selfie happened -- in case you missed it --  during the World Series champs’ traditional appearance at the White House, and, according to Ortiz anyway, was spontaneous. Even though he is a Samsung social media ambassador, it certainly looked spur-of-the-moment, even if everyone in social marketing knows that somewhere, a social media SWAT team was at the ready, trying to duplicate the impact of Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscar selfie, also sponsored by Samsung. And retweet the selfie, Samsung did.

Now that we know what we know, I’m wondering why, while everyone was at it, there wasn’t a camera trained on Dustin Pedroia proclaiming that he was going straight from the White House to Disneyland. Or would the ceremony have been better if the Red Sox jersey that Ortiz gave the President had showcased the Majestic logo? And, by the way, what designer was behind Jonny Gomes’ stars-and-stripes jacket?

But there’s a time and a place for everything, and it’s clear this was one time not to go tweet-happy. Even if you forget, for a moment, the legal issues surrounding using the President’s likeness in your ad campaign, there was another bit of probably unexpected context that should not have been overlooked. For all of its occasional lightheartedness -- quips about the Red Sox’s now-mostly absent beards, for instance -- the 10-minute ceremony also pegged the World Series championship as a key component in the comeback of the city from the Boston Marathon bombings. Go watch the video and you’ll see what I mean.

I’m sure there are people who thought that angle was overplayed, but it was there nonetheless. And while it certainly isn’t Ortiz’ job to show restraint -- the “Big in “Big Papi” seems as much about his personality as his size -- you would hope that a major marketer’s brand newsroom,would start assessing the situation and deciding, in real time, to stand down. Let Ortiz tweet his selfie to his followers and leave it at that.

It’s one thing for Samsung to respond on Twitter if someone asks about what kind of phone Ortiz used to take the picture. It’s entirely another to pounce on retweeting it like it was a fastball down the middle with bases loaded and the score tied in the bottom of the ninth. If you’re a benchwarmer -- and let’s face it, in the big content sweepstakes, most brands are -- sometimes it’s better to settle for the walk. 

2 comments about "Oops, Samsung Did It Again! ".
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  1. Steve Plunkett from Cool Websites Organization, April 4, 2014 at 4:24 p.m.

    Fake People are going to eventually get caught.. at some point, self promotion becomes douchebaggery... which people are tired of.. not so good for long term strategy for a brand.. is it?

  2. Steven Shore from Public Domain, April 7, 2014 at 10:21 a.m.

    If, as you suggest, the Ortiz selfie was spontaneous and Samsung later picked up on it, how do you explain several members of the Sox crying out "ka'ching!" as Ortiz snapped the selfie?

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