Samsung's Selfie Backfire: Overreach May Bring Tactic to Early Halt

The White House Is Not Amused With the Latest Ambush Advertising

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The selfie the White House is now complaining about.
The selfie the White House is now complaining about.

Just last month, Samsung looked like it hit the next big thing in social marketing: Its orchestrated Twitter selfie at the Oscars was savvy, spontaneous and a definitive success.

Now, three days after the company gave its viral formula a second shot, the tactic has slammed into some powerful opposition, suggesting that not everyone wants to be drafted into some advertiser's marketing stunt without being asked first. Certainly not the president.

On Tuesday, the Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz snapped a shot with President Obama during a White House visit and posted it to his Twitter account. It quickly went viral, with the assist of Samsung, which had signed Mr. Ortiz as an endorser earlier in the week.

Samsung took credit for the stunt, claiming it was an intentional re-creation of the star-studded Oscars' moment.

The White House, however, is not pleased.

"As a rule the White House objects to attempts to use the president's likeness for commercial purposes," White House spokesperson Jay Carney said during his press briefing Thursday. "And we certainly object in this case."

The White House did not immediately respond Friday when called to ask what steps it might take to remedy the situation. According to Ted Marzilli, CEO at market research company YouGov BrandIndex, the White House selfie shots did not immediately affect perception of the company's brand either way.

Samsung's marketing has had a busy week. As part of its latest legal battle with Apple, Samsung said that its ads had been driving its rival crazy. Its marketing spending has accelerated so much in recent years that it has surpassed its R&D budget. Earlier this week, Samsung reshuffled its accounting rules for marketing so that its advertising spending now slips under R&D.

Samsung did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday morning.

President Obama was a little bit more lighthearted on the whole Samsung-selfie thing when discussing it with Ellen DeGeneres:

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