Samsung’s multi-million dollar marketing campaign for the Galaxy S5 hit a very predictable snag yesterday, as Oscars host Ellen Degeneres hawked Samsung gear while on the air but switched to an iPhone to tweet when the cameras weren’t on her.
Samsung was all over Sunday’s Oscars presentation, with Ellen pulling out the Galaxy Note 3 – the larger, stylus-enabled counterpart to the Galaxy S5 – on stage for all to see. Because nothing says Oscar-worthy class like that faux stitched leather and plastic casing. They weren’t able to fully turn the ceremony into a Galaxy S5 commercial, but Samsung probably got more screen time than some award nominees, with no moment more famous in the night than The Selfie Seen ‘Round The World.
While some might have been paying attention to Channing Tatum giving the sideways peace signal – of course – or Jared Leto’s sudden astonishment at whatever mystery of existence he saw revealed in the smartphone’s display, the main goal of the exercise was to get the Galaxy handset front and mostly center for the 43 million viewers EW says tuned in on Sunday.
And if it wasn’t Galaxy Notes on stage, it was Galaxy S5s in the commercial breaks. Sunday marked the debut of the first commercial for the Galaxy S5, which was unveiled late last month at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Another ad, a 90-second spot, looked at the capabilities of other Samsung devices, while yet another touted the Galaxy Gear 2, Samsung’s second attempt at a smartwatch in the past nine months.
As The Verge noted last night, this is Samsung’s fifth year of sponsoring the Oscars, and the South Korean tech giant – which has never been one for subtlety – has dropped $24 million on Oscar sponsorship since 2009. That 30-second Galaxy S5 spot, for instance, cost about $1.8 million, as did every other 30 seconds of ad time.
All that cash, though, wasn’t sufficient to keep host Ellen Degeneres from switching to her iPhone when it came time to tweet from backstage. While it didn’t get nearly as many retweets as the mega-selfie with Lupita, Jennifer, Angelina, Kevin, et al, the fact that her backstage selfie with Channing Tatum was taken with an iPhone illustrates the dangers in relying on celebrities to commit to your brand.
This is, really, a thing that tech companies often have to deal with. Last year, in an attempt to convince everyone that it is not in fact circling the drain, BlackBerry brought on Alicia Keys as its Global Creative Director. Keys promptly tweeted her love for the BlackBerry brand – of course – from an iPhone. In 2012, Microsoft tapped Oprah to tout its just-revealed Surface tablets, which she totally did… from an iPad.
This isn’t a first for Samsung, either. Last year, Spain’s David Ferrer expressed his love for the Galaxy S5’s predecessor, the Galaxy S4… with a tweet from his iPhone 5.
So the lack of brand loyalty among celebrities is no real surprise, it’s just a funny little inevitability that springs up just about every time a tech company grabs a big name to push its products in front of the cameras, and the forthcoming hype over the Galaxy S5 will likely prove no different. If you were feeling a bit of Samsung fatigue by the time the night was over, though, you haven’t seen anything yet. The lead-up to the launch of the Galaxy S5 will likely hit a mindshare saturation point in the next few weeks, so if you find yourself wondering why “The Next Big Thing” is always on your mind, you can look back and see that that obsession started with a Hollywood selfie.
To be fair, Ellen’s non-Galaxy tweeting wasn’t even the biggest trip-up of the evening; that award, for the second year running, goes to Jennifer Lawrence.