Ellen's Oscars super selfie a marketing stunt

MICHAEL IDATO
Last updated 09:55 04/03/2014
Ellen DeGeneres/Twitter
Ellen DeGeneres, centre, with actors, front row from left: Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Peter Nyong'o Jr., and, second row, from left: Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong'o and Angelina Jolie.

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Before it was officially confirmed, it had already been declared the biggest selfie in history.

But it appears Academy Awards host Ellen DeGeneres' star-studded selfie, taken seemingly spontaneously in the middle of the Oscar telecast, was just a cynical exercise in product placement.

The image, one of the major talking points of the night, was taken by actor Bradley Cooper, and included DeGeneres, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Spacey and a little bit of Jared Leto.

Other images, taken from behind the image, show iconic singer Liza Minnelli attempted to join the image but, at the back of the group and standing at just 5 feet, four inches (165cm), she didn't make the cut.

But was everything as it seemed? Was this indeed one of those spontaneous moments that pops in the middle of the cultural conversation?

Or was it a carefully produced piece of product placement? And were star such as Streep, Roberts, Pitt and Spacey, all of whom carefully manage their image, aware they were being exploited for a brand?

The answer is, as it always can be, found in the fine print.

The "super selfie" contains a small tag which reads "via Twitter for Android". Other images posted by DeGeneres before and after contain a small tag which reads "via Twitter for iPhone".

The reason for the two different tags is that DeGeneres' own phone is an iPhone, but the phone she used for the "super selfie" was a Samsung Galaxy. And - come on, you know where we're heading here - Samsung Galaxy is an official Oscar sponsor.

The stunt - and it's safe to say it was a stunt, produced to expose a mobile phone brand to the massive Oscar audience - was a monumental success.

Like most rockets it is slowing down, but the "super selfie" this morning stood at 2.7 million re-tweets and has been "favourited" 1.4 million times by Twitter users.

Within minutes of being posted to Twitter the social network crashed momentarily. The image also quickly super-ceded the record holder, which was a picture tweeted by US president Barack Obama hugging his wife, US first lady Michelle Obama, which had recorded 780,000 re-tweets.

"We crashed and broke Twitter. We made history," DeGeneres said during the broadcast, noting that Twitter's office had contacted the producers to alert them. "It's fantastic. See what we did, Meryl?"

She did not alert the audience, or indeed the A-list stars who had been inadvertently exploited by it, that the moment, while entertaining for the TV audience, was as spontaneous as a soap powder advertisement.

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Samsung has been contracted to the Academy Awards as a sponsor, and is ranked among one of Oscar's biggest benefactors. According to a recent advertising industry report, the company has spent around US$24 million ((NZ$28.6m) on the Oscars during that time.

It still falls some way short of Oscar's biggest benefactors: Hyundai (US$56.6 million), the department store JC Penney (US$49.4 million) and Coca-Cola (US$41.5 million).

- Sydney Morning Herald

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