Feeling Cheated: The Samsung Selfie Dilemma

When Ellen Degeneres hosted the Oscars back in February, she stopped in the middle of the show to take a selfie, or the more aptly titled groupie, with a slew of celebrities. She then tweeted this photo and broke the Twitter record for the number of times a tweet was retweeted. I thought this was so cool of Ellen and it made me laugh and love her even more. 

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Then, it happened again. On April 1, the Red Sox visited the White House and designated hitter David Ortiz took a selfie with President Barack Obama with his own personalized Red Sox jersey. He tweeted it out to his followers and got worldwide recognition for the selfie. 

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Both of these pictures reminded me of how celebrities are just like us and that they love to take selfies too. It made me feel a deeper connection to both Ellen and Big Papi because I was reminded that they like to have fun too. EXCEPT THAT IT WAS ALL A LIE. Both of these selfies were taken with Samsung phones and sponsored by the brand as a marketing stunt. Both times, I found out about this after the photo had been released and retweeted like crazy. Suddenly, the two pictures were not just celebrities being cool and totally relatable, but they were photographs that were under contract to help sell a product. Lame.

For some reason, it just made me feel extremely cheated. I do not understand why it seems that absolutely nothing is sacred anymore. Everything turns into a marketing ploy. As a marketing major, I see this as a huge problem. When everything is marketing, then nothing is marketing. Consumers will get weary combing through the thousands of messages and advertisements they see daily. While some people might see the Samsung selfie as a smart campaign, I think it brings up serious trust issues. These two selfies made the individual celebrities lose their “cool factor” and made them just part of another advertising possibility. I personally thought it was hilarious when Ellen stopped in the middle of the Oscars to do this selfie, but when I found out it was planned and sponsored, it lost its spontaneity and humor and wasn’t cool to me anymore.

With the inundation of product placement and brand interruptions present in digital marketing now, there is no room for spontaneous fun. These two Samsung selfies have made me approach future celebrity pictures cautiously. What product will appear in Anna Kendrick’s next Instagram picture? Who is going to be sponsoring Kim Kardashian’s next Twitter post? Social media brought opportunities for celebrities to be transparent to us and allowed us to become more involved in their lives. But when brands are getting involved with celebrity posts, it does not feel genuine. It feels contrived and like I am just continually being sucked into marketing schemes. It is the responsibility of our generation of social media marketing experts to take back social media. We need to get back to the time when social media was an opportunity for genuine engagement with brands and celebrities, not these fake, over-produced posts. -Kinsey Minschke

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