Samsung hits a home run

Planit Agency
May 6, 2014

Each year, the World Series Champions honor their victory with a celebratory trip to the White House. This spring, it was the Boston Red Sox who earned the right to shake hands with President Barack Obama, present him with a team jersey, and have a few photos taken. One of those photos generated quite a lot of buzz. Ortiz David Ortiz, beloved Red Sox slugger and World Series MVP, approached President Obama midway through the ceremony, put his arm around him, and snapped a selfie with the commander in chief. The photo instantly went viral, with over 34,000 retweets on Twitter. What seemed like an innocent moment quickly spoiled as news of Ortiz’s endorsement deal with Samsung became public. The feeling spread that Samsung had gone too far with its viral marketing, and the photo became a cheesy, sneaky promotion of Samsung’s new product, the Galaxy Note 3. As a loyal Red Sox fan, this type of selling out makes my stomach turn. But as someone working in the advertising industry, I think this is genius. After retweeting the photo to its 5.2 million Twitter followers, Samsung claimed responsibility for the selfie, explaining in a CNN article: “When we heard about the visit to the White House, we worked with David and the team on how to share images with fans. We didn’t know if or what he would be able to capture using his Note 3 device.” Creative marketing takes many forms, especially when it comes to sports and athlete endorsements. Whether it is an NBA player’s shoes or a winning quarterback shouting, “I’m going to Disneyland!”—the best advertising happens when people aren’t even aware they are being pitched. I can appreciate that Samsung was able recognize and take advantage of a rare marketing opportunity. Regardless of whether or not the selfie itself was a premeditated stunt, Samsung’s plan to sponsor and educate athletes headed to the White House resulted in a week’s worth of media attention and viral exposure for their new product.