SBD/April 3, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

Ortiz Criticized As Selfie With Obama Viewed As Samsung Marketing Stunt

Red Sox DH David Ortiz yesterday said that he "was seizing a moment, not cashing in" on his endorsement deal with Samsung, when he "snapped that selfie" with President Obama on Tuesday, according to Michael Silverman of the BOSTON HERALD. Word of Ortiz' deal with Samsung, which was "struck more than a month ago, began circulating shortly after Ortiz posted his crystal-clear shot." N.Y.-based marketing firm Radegen Founder & President Alex Radetsky, who reps Ortiz, said the act was "spontaneous" and not scripted by Samsung (BOSTON HERALD, 4/3). However, NBCSPORTS.com's Drew Silva reported Samsung yesterday "took credit for arranging" the selfie. The company in a statement said it "was an honor to help him capture such an incredible and genuine moment of joy and excitement" (NBCSPORTS.com, 4/2).

TERRIFIC OR TASTELESS? In Boston, Michael Farrell writes the episode "raised a host of questions and doubts: When is a social media moment also an advertising event?" Obama "certainly wasn’t clued in to the Samsung angle when Ortiz snapped the selfie." While Radetsky acknowledged that Samsung "encouraged the slugger to take photos with his Galaxy Note 3 phone when the Red Sox visited the White House, Ortiz said the idea of the selfie with Obama was his alone." As far as brand promotion, the selfie "was an astounding success -- for Samsung and Ortiz alike," as it "was retweeted more than 40,000 times after he posted it on his account." Samsung also "posted it on its own account, which has more than 5 million followers" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/3). USA TODAY's Jackson & White note some commentators on social media "criticized Ortiz and Samsung for 'tricking' Obama into participating in what looks like corporate marketing" (USA TODAY, 4/3). CBS' Gayle King said Samsung is now "facing questions about its tactics." The Wall Street Journal's Suzanne Vranica said, "It's a risky move but I think it's a good move and I think this is a brand that is definitely on a tear and they are willing to pull any lever they can to attack Apple." CBS' Bill Plante added, "The White House is not happy about this, but they're not making any public request to take down those tweets. They don’t want to appear heavy-handed" ("CBS This Morning," 4/3).

ADVERTISING'S NADIR? BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK's Joshua Green wrote, "Duping the president of the United States into participating with your social media campaign has to be a new low for advertising." Green: "It’s flat-out shady. And Ortiz should be embarrassed" (BUSINESSWEEK.com, 4/2). In Boston, Nick Cafardo writes it is "not that we shouldn't believe Ortiz, it's just that the circumstances make it all look fishy" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/3). In Chicago, Lynn Sweet writes under the header, "David Ortiz's Advertisement Selfie At White House Was Low-Class" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 4/3). ESPN's Keith Olbermann said, "I hope you got more than the phone, Big Sellout, because a Samsung statement ... makes you look less than completely honest about this" ("Olbermann," 4/2). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "It's a great honor to be invited to the White House and ... there's a real cheesy quality to what David Ortiz did. It's cheesy and clammy." He added, "It's the wrong way to go. He should take the money that he got and he should give it to charity." Kornheiser: "If he's making money off it ... he's a lapdog for Samsung" ("PTI," ESPN, 4/2).
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