The Dirty Little Secret About Ellen’s Oscar Selfie

You know, this one:

It was a wacky, seemingly spontaneous moment in which Ellen and a bunch of stars took a selfie, and then she urged people to make it the most retweeted photo ever.

And they did! I think it got almost 3 million retweets. That’s the only reason I even know about: it was all over Twitter.

Yeah, that was totally a bought-and-paid-for ad by Samsung for the Galaxy Note 3. And if you retweeted or shared it, you were doing a little unpaid marketing for Samsung. Congratulations!

Samsung spent about $20 million in a promotional deal with ABC, which included featuring the device during the broadcast. They even had their people at the rehearsals teaching Ellen how to use it. It worked, too: Samsung was being mentioned 900 times a minute on Twitter during the broadcast.

Did the stars in the photograph even know they were part of some tacky product placement stunt? If they did, would they have cared?

Try to keep this image in mind next time you hear some celebrity blathering on about freedom of expression or artistic integrity. In the end, entertainment is always about the almighty dollar. That’s not a problem, mind you: I write for a living and expect to be paid. But the pretense that it’s All About The Craft wears thin.

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About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.


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