Samsung just gave Apple some of its best PR of the year — and it just so happens to have come during iPhone season. The problem arose when one of Samsung’s Russian brand ambassadors was caught in public using an iPhone instead of a Samsung phone. Appleinsider offers details.
“Ksenia Sobchak was hired by Samsung to market its smartphones in the country, with the Russian TV presenter, journalist, and politician contracted to use the smartphones in public. Under the terms of similar agreements between companies and influential people, they are not typically allowed to be seen using competing products in public, a rule that Sobchak broke. According to The Mirror, Sobchak was spotted using an iPhone X during a television interview, with the personality attempting to hide the Apple smartphone under a piece of paper while the cameras were on. Sobchak is also said to have used the iPhone X during social events in Moscow and other TV appearances, again against the contract’s rules. “
Trying to hide a smartphone under a piece of paper while on camera is a pretty risky play, especially for a figure who is frequently in the spotlight — whether or not cameras are rolling. It is possible that Sobchak simply got sloppy and made a large error in the process.
She has reportedly been caught using the iPhone on numerous occasions — such as during social events in Moscow and on other television appearances. Samsung might have chosen to put up with the behavior in the past, rather than to shine a spotlight on it.
Whatever the reason, Samsung has put a stop to her behavior in a most public and unflattering way. They are suing Sobchak for approximately $1.6 million. It is not known how much of that amount is being claimed in reputational damages as opposed to the breach of contract.
In the past, Samsung has had similar issues with celebrity compliance with regards to their sponsored Samsung phones, with many using iPhones surreptitiously — an act which is obviously expressly forbidden in their sponsorship contracts. In 2013, tennis pro David Ferrer was promoting the Samsung Galaxy S4 as part of a sponsorship agreement — going so far as to make a Twitter post endorsing the flagship Samsung product. The problem is that his tweet belied the fact that his post came via Twitter for the iPhone, as Business Insider relays.
Samsung is not the only phone manufacturer to have been plagued by unfaithful sponsorship agreements. Back in its competitive days, Blackberry brought on Alicia Keys as a celebrity influencer. The problem? Keys could not stop using her iPhone in favor of the Blackberry that she was issued, as the Verge reports.