White House slaps Samsung for promoting Obama selfie tweet

Summary:Samsung's dancing a delicate line that social media marketers can learn from after the President was snapped in a selfie that was used for commercial purposes.

selfie-obama
Image: David Ortiz/Twitter

Samsung's latest selfie snafu landed it in hot water with the White House after it transpired the phone maker was behind a marketing campaign that ensnared the leader of the free world.

While the White House is fully aware the President enjoys dabbling in the occasional selfie, the administration was reportedly not aware that the Korean electronics giant was behind the seemingly impromptu selfie of Boston Red Sox David Ortiz and U.S. President Barack Obama this week.

Samsung is said to have provided Ortiz with the selfie-taking smartphone — the baseball giant has an endorsement deal with the company. Once the tweet was published, Samsung promoted the now-infamous Obama selfie Twitter with a note, "Big Papi, Big Selfie," and pushed the photo in the feeds of millions of users of the microblogging service. 

Twitter users innocently questioned the selfie, Samsung responded to its followers: "This photo was taken with a #GalaxyNote3."

In a statement, the company followed up saying it was "thrilled to see the special, historic moment" captured by the dedicated hitter.

At no point was the White House asked if the image could be used for marketing purposes, which riled the Press Secretary Jay Carney, who told The Wall Street Journal:

"As a rule, the White House objects to attempts to use the president’s likeness for commercial purposes. And we certainly object in this case."

It comes just a few weeks after Samsung promoted a tweet posted by Ellen DeGeneres and other celebrities, which overtook Obama's "four more years" tweet with more than 3.4 million retweets at the time of writing.

But in that case, the President wasn't used as ammunition in Samsung's marketing campaign. 

It's not clear if the White House will bring legal action against the Korean giant. Carney simply said the President's legal team "objects" to Samsung's commercial use of the photo.

Topics: Social Enterprise

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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