Oscars 2014: How Samsung Got the Best Product Placement and Won the Oscars, Big Time

By @judithaparri on
Oscar 2014 Selfie Shot
An image posted by Oscars show host Ellen DeGeneres (bottom row, 4th L) on her Twitter account. Picture taken March 2, 2014. REUTERS/Ellen DeGeneres/Handou

The recent Oscars academy awards went well with host Ellen DeGeneres doing a good job. The guest list was of big stars and the awards went to the most deserving ones. However, the show's great moments, sometimes do not happen on stage, but when all guests and hosts gathered in celebration. It will be fortunate enough for companies if they get the opportunity to be part of these great moments, and for the recent Oscars, some firms really made it there - like Samsung.

Samsung Electronics was one of the biggest names in the recent Mobile World Congress, releasing its most-anticipated next flagship phone, Galaxy S5 along with Galaxy Gear2, Gear Neon and Gear Fit. The Oscars event which followed after a week is Samsung's next big opportunity to market its products and be part of the show's history. While host Ellen DeGeneres is the most appealing artistic host ever, her snapshot selfie with other big Hollywood stars using Samsung Galaxy Note 3, becomes the most tweeted so far and the photo is the most viral these days, even beating U.S. President's Obama's hugging Michelle after winning the 2012 election. Hashtag #Ellen peaks the most at about 252 mentions per second.

The Korean electronics giant spent millions, marketing for the Oscars event, including a massive video wall of 86 televisions, as well as tablets and smartphones showing footages of nominated films. It appeared to be a Samsung commercial event with Ellen flashing every now and then. The Verge said "Samsung's presence at Oscars was pretty over-the-top, from the Galaxy S5 commercials all the way to the stage."

As the Oscars major sponsor, the show executives trained Ellen in using Samsung Galaxy during the rehearsals, but what makes Samsung a winner? When Ellen handed the Samsung Galaxy to Bradley Cooper asking him to take a snapshot with some stars hopping off their seats to join. And when the photo sent Twitter into panic.

Aside from Cooper and DeGeneres, some big stars in the photo were Meryl Streep, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Roberts, Lupita Nyong'o and her brother, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. The host asked viewers to help her set a record in retweets, and they complied pretty quickly.

Samsung commented that Ellen's selfie with the big stars was not a product placement, but a spontaneous moment, and that it is delighted with the result. Though the smartphone giant negotiated to have its products incorporated into the show, the host was given freedom what to use and it was she in a last-minute decision, used the technology which Samsung just provided.

Craig Zaldan, Oscars co-producer said "everything in the show was given lots of thought, but the telephone was not." Making it more spontaneous was the other famous stars surrounding Ellen in the shot when it was supposed to be just Streep. He thought Ellen did not even know that those stars would jump off their seats to join in the selfie.

Though the host was free to choose what technology to use, and that Samsung was not even mentioned in the shot, the tech used was noticeably bigger than an iPhone. Marketing Professor Tim Calkins of Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University commented that the use of Samsung was not an intentional product placement, but it became so - naturally. "The best product placements seem natural." 

Samsung gave a $3 million donation to two of Ellen's favorite charities - Humane Society and St. Jude.

The Asian company is a smartphone worldwide leader but, second to Apple in America. While aggressively going after the American market, for now it just simply came out a big winner in the recent Oscars!

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