During the 86th Annual Academy Awards ceremony when Ellen DeGeneres took her Oscars selfie Twitter went wild and then broke while the popular talk show host got her tweeted pic retweeted so much it broke records as well as the app; ironically this spontaneous act was not spontaneous at all. Certainly, the producers of the show are saying that the selfie was Ellen’s idea and not something that had been preplanned. Unfortunately, the facts suggest otherwise.
The smart cell phone used for the record breaking selfie was a Samsung. To those who are more cynically natured the news that Samsung was a sponsor for the Academy Awards ceremony will not be surprising. It will also come as no surprise that this particular smartphone was made available for the ABC network broadcasting the Oscars show. The company, Samsung, had been promised that its line of devices would receive airtime during the ceremony. At least one preplanned product plug was used over the course of the evening.
This plug was a clip of six “aspiring” filmmakers who were touring the Disney Studios, the young creative group seen in the footage were using Samsung devices. According to Twitter spokesperson Rachael Horwitz in an email, Ellen DeGeneres’ idea for the Oscars selfie was her own and not prompted by either the microblogging site or Samsung. This all sounds very spontaneous when is actual fact it is not.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Samsung, who paid an estimated $20 million for product placement during the Academy Awards ceremony, brokered a deal wherein the company and its media purchasing firm Starcom MediaVest were promised that the Galaxy smartphone would be integrated into the aired proceedings.
Admittedly, DeGeneres did want to take selfies throughout the show and she posted these via “live tweets” during the evening’s airtime. ABC suggested that Ellen use the Samsung Galaxy smartphone and went so far as to train the 41 year-old comedienne and talk show host in how to use the device. Said training occurred during rehearsals.
This one little word – rehearsals – completely negates the idea that the group selfie, which was actually not taken by Ellen but by Bradley Cooper, was pre-planned before the Academy Awards show even started. Not to take away from DeGeneres’ idea which, apart from being fun, funny and record breaking, certainly seemed spontaneous and it did get retweeted more than 2.9 million times, and rising.
The big winner from this incident was Twitter, although the increased traffic to the sight from Ellen’s group selfie combined with the already present strain from viewers tweeting about the Academy Awards results did cause the application to break down for an impressive, and irritating, amount of time. Still, in terms of publicity, the social networking site made out like a proverbial bandit.
Samsung may have gotten its moneys worth in terms of product placement, but, surely only techies recognized the smartphone being used in the group selfie as a Galaxy. Not quite the result that the company was hoping for. The really sad part about this new information is that Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscars selfie was not as spontaneous as it seemed. Not after it was set up beforehand during rehearsals which means it definitely was not “spur of the moment” as indicated during the show. Does this take away from the tweeted selfie? Not really, because despite the cynical fact of the sponsored phone being used for the rehearsed shot, it did help this very popular woman set a new world record for retweets. What could be wrong with that?
By Michael Smith