The Ortiz-Obama Selfie Might Have Been a Samsung Advertising Ploy

A blog about business and economics.
April 3 2014 5:02 PM

The Ortiz-Obama Selfie Might Have Been a Samsung Advertising Ploy

481845847-boston-red-sox-designated-hitter-david-ortiz-poses-for
David Ortiz snaps a selfie with President Obama on the South Lawn of the White House.

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Red Sox slugger David Ortiz lit up the Internet earlier this week when he tweeted a selfie that he took with President Barack Obama. The post got more than 40,000 retweets and 47,000 favorites, and was even featured on ESPN.

If anyone was more excited about the moment than Red Sox Nation, it was Samsung. The company immediately picked up the selfie—which, it pointed out, had been taken with a Samsung Galaxy Note 3—and promoted it to its five-plus million followers. “We were thrilled to see the special, historic moment David Ortiz captured with his Galaxy Note 3 during his White House visit,” Samsung told the Boston Globe. “It was an honor to help him capture such an incredible and genuine moment of joy and excitement.”

Not so genuine or spontaneous, actually. It turns out that Ortiz had inked a new endorsement deal with the cellphone provider just one day earlier. Now the White House is pushing back against the commercial use of the president’s image by Samsung.

Advertisement

“As a rule the White House objects to attempts to use the president’s likeness for commercial purposes, and we certainly object in this case,” Carney said in his Thursday news briefing.

The incident is yet another example of the hidden social-media promotions that drive the Federal Trade Commission crazy. The regulator is fighting an ongoing battle against advertisers that produce what it considers “inauthentic content”—namely, ads that don’t obviously look like ads. Most recently, the FTC chastised Cole Haan for a Pinterest shoe contest that it felt was a deceptive form of marketing.

For his part, Ortiz has denied orchestrating the stunt for Samsung’s benefit. He told the Boston Globe on Wednesday that the selfie was his own idea. “That was one of those things that just happened,” he said. “I gave him the jersey, and the photographers were going to take their pictures and I thought, really at the last second, maybe I should snap a shot with my phone while I have the chance. It had nothing to do with no deals."

Alison Griswold is a Slate staff writer covering business and economics.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

The World’s Politest Protesters

The Occupy Central demonstrators are courteous. That’s actually what makes them so dangerous.

The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:58 PM The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The Feds Have Declared War on Encryption—and the New Privacy Measures From Apple and Google

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You

It spreads slowly.

These “Dark” Lego Masterpieces Are Delightful and Evocative

Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Activists Are Trying to Save an Iranian Woman Sentenced to Death for Killing Her Alleged Rapist

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?