Samsung Takes Selfies to New Depths with Ortiz-Obama Ploy
Business + Economy

Samsung Takes Selfies to New Depths with Ortiz-Obama Ploy

REUTERS/Larry Downing

Back in 2010, the Weatherproof Garment Company put up a billboard in Times Square showing a photo of President Obama donning one of its coats during a visit to the Great Wall of China. It used the same image on its website to market what it called “The Obama Jacket.” The pictures wound up being taken down at the request of the White House, which said it “has a longstanding policy disapproving of the use of the president's name and likeness for commercial purposes.”

Samsung and David Ortiz didn’t get the message.

The smartphone maker — which last month gave Oscars host Ellen DeGeneres the Galaxy phone she used to take a celebrity selfie that became the most retweeted photo ever — managed to get the president of the United States to unwittingly participate in its latest staged promotional gimmick.

Obama on Tuesday welcomed the Boston Red Sox to the White House in honor of their 2013 World Series championship. As part of the festivities, World Series MVP David Ortiz presented the president with a Red Sox jersey with “Obama” and the number 44 on the back.

“Come on, let’s get a good picture here,” Obama said in stepping back to pose with the whole team.

“Actually, do you mind if I take my own?” Ortiz said, pulling his phone out of his pocket. The resulting selfie quickly spread across the Interwebs and Twitter, where it received nearly 40,000 retweets.

Related: Red Sox World Series Win Was Statistically Improbable

Ortiz, it turns out, had recently signed an endorsement deal with Samsung. The company’s U.S. mobile division promoted Ortiz’s tweet to its 5.26 million followers, and it made sure Twitter users knew the picture had been taken with a Samsung device.

What had seemed like another spontaneous David Ortiz moment — Papi Being Papi — was instead another Samsung stunt.

“It was an honor to help him capture such an incredible and genuine moment of joy and excitement,” Samsung said in a statement to the Boston Globe

Incredible, yes. Genuine? Apparently not.

“Similar to the selfie Ellen was able to capture during the Oscars, this was an opportunity for David to share the incredible moment with his fans,” the phone manufacturer’s statement continued. “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.”

Ortiz has hit 431 home runs in his big league career. Samsung, though, managed to yank this one into foul territory.

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