On Tuesday, David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox challenged Ellen DeGeneres’ record Oscars selfie when he took what seemed like a spontaneous picture with President Barack Obama. But today the truth came out that the photo op was staged by Samsung, just like the one at the Academy Awards.
After Ortiz, or "Big Papi" as he is known to baseball fans, and his 2013 World Series Champion teammates were honored at a White House ceremony, the designated hitter presented Obama with his own jersey and then asked the president if he could take a selfie.
Ortiz tweeted the photo from his personal handle, saying, "What an honor! Thanks for the #selfie, @BarackObama." The image took social and traditional media by storm, garnering more than 39,000 retweets and making it onto ESPN and other TV broadcasts, as well as dozens of online news outlets.
Earlier Wednesday, Samsung confirmed to the Boston Globe that Ortiz signed an endorsement deal with the company on Monday, and the selfie was a promotional stunt. Samsung promoted the photo to its 5.2 million followers on Twitter.
Samsung said in a statement that the company was "thrilled to see the special, historic moment David Ortiz captured with his Galaxy Note 3 during his White House visit."
"It was an honor to help him capture such an incredible and genuine moment of joy and excitement. Similar to the selfie Ellen was able to capture during the Oscars, this was an opportunity for David to share the incredible moment with his fans," the statement added.
Others were less thrilled. While Zuri Berry of the Boston Globe said Samsung hit a home run with the stunt, other media outlets and consumers reacted negatively to the fact that the selfie was planned.
Columnist Eric Wilbur of Boston.com wrote: "Hang on. Did Samsung really use the word ‘genuine’ in its response? The moment was about as bona fide as the Grade A meat in Hot Pockets. I mean, if there is indeed any purpose of the "selfie," it’s about capturing something impromptu."
Straight to the point, Chris Cillizza, political reporter for the Washington Post and editor of The Fix, tweeted, "Spontaneity is dead. Samsung killed it."
Bloomberg Businessweek senior national correspondent Joshua Green reported that White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama did not know the selfie was part of a promotion.
Green added: "Duping the president of the United States into participating with your social media campaign has to be a new low for advertising. It’s flat-out shady. And Ortiz should be embarrassed."
Samsung’s move is surprising especially after the fiasco of the Weatherproof Garment Company billboard featuring Obama’s image without his permission in 2010. The White House opposes the use of the president’s name or likeness for commercial purposes.
Samsung is undoubtedly receiving a ton of attention for its selfie escapades, but repeatedly fooling consumers and the media doesn’t help its claims of authenticity and transparency.