When you meet President Barack Obama, you kind of have to snap a selfie. It’s the ultimate pics-or-it-didn’t-happen humblebrag. The commander in chief himself loves a good selfie. Yup, even at funerals.
But Obama doesn’t dig selfies so much when celebs stage them on behalf of big name brands ambush advertising-style, like a few doozies arranged by Samsung lately. While it looked like the POTUS was plenty happy to pose for a selfie with Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz last week, he’s not so thrilled now about what turned out to be a sneaky promotional selfie that the Korean electronics giant paid the slugger to capture.
Commence Selfiegate. Despite being on Samsung’s payroll as a social ambassador, and Samsung publicly taking credit for his insta-viral POTUS pic on Twitter, Ortiz said the historic presidential selfie he captured “wasn’t anything promotional or anything like that.” Sure, whatever you say, Big Papi. What you did might put an end to the presidential selfie for good.
The infamous selfie, which Ortiz of course snapped with his Samsung Galaxy Note 3, mind you, has racked up some 42,600 retweets and climbing.
Together Ortiz and Obama rose for Samsung, not too far off from how NBA star LeBron James did for his Samsung-sponsored #TogetherWeRise selfie mosaic marketing scheme, even if one of them didn’t realize it at the time (the one with Secret Service protection).
Ellen DeGeneres’s epic recent Oscars product placement selfie, also for Samsung, blew up so crazy big that it broke Twitter. Well, Obama dissed her selfie, too. “I thought it was cheap stunt myself,” he quipped.
Love them or loathe them, promotional selfies are here to stay and brands big and small are scrambling to cash in on to the hot narcissistic global trend.
Here are five brands leveraging the wildly popular selfie phenomenon -- one self-centered, intentionally commercially #hashtagged image at a time.
Billionaire CEO Nick Woodman founded GoPro on the concept of a selfie -- it’s all about personal perspective. The idea for the company was born when he filmed himself surfing in Australia inside the barrel of a massive curling wave. That was 10 years ago, an entire decade before Oxford Dictionaries declared “selfie” its 2013’s “Word of the Year.”
Branded selfies (which often look stiff and too staged) aren’t always worth a second glance, but the lion’s share of GoPro’s are, just by the very nature of the product and what users can achieve with it, like corkscrewing on a rollercoaster or summiting Mount Everest and snapping astounding #GoPro-hashtagged selfie evidence of your ascent, for example.
The San Francisco-based global manufacturer of sturdy wearable digital cameras for sports and outdoor enthusiasts is huge on promoting self-generated marketing content. Much of it is naturally from its own lineup of sports celebs on its payroll, including Olympic gold medal winners Shaun White and Lindsey Vonn, and 15 other pro athletes, all who regularly snap selfies of themselves with their GoPro gear.
And, of course, thousands of everyday, non-pro athlete types across the world snap and post some pretty cool GoPro selfies, even Tanzanian pelicans, too. What?!
2. Turkish Airlines
What do you get when you pit world-famous FIFA star Lionel Messi against NBA mega star Kobe Bryant in a monumental “Selfie Shootout” commercial with all the social bells and whistles, even a companion app? An insanely viral cross-platform marketing campaign that kills it on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter (and ponies up decent interest on Pinterest, too).
Turkish Airlines did just that last December, when it reprised the two high-profile pros’ roles from its “Legends on Board” TV spot for a contest that asks fans to upload their #KobivsMessi-inspired #SelfieShootout shots for a chance to win a free flight. Thousands have entered, few will win, but the real winner here is Turkish Airlines’ marketing allstars.
3. Wired UK
The British version of Wired magazine published its first selfie cover last month, featuring a perky-eyed BuzzFeed founder and CEO Jonah Peretti. Now it’s back on the selfie trend train once again, inviting readers to download its app and snag a free copy of its February 2014 sample edition. Once it’s downloaded, they can replace Peretti’s cover image with their very own selfies. Oh, and, of course, share them all over the social web (“Instagram, Twitter, Google+ or Facebook,” Wired suggests) with the hashtag #wiredgoesviral. The best selfies will be featured on the magazine’s website. The big winner’s selfie will be featured on the cover of Wired UK's next issue.
4. Purina Pro Plan
The famous pet food maker knows that adorable pups and Twitter pair well together. The Nestlé Purina PetCare company recently partnered with Twitter Mirror to launch a selfie competition that actually had puppies competing in the Westminster Dog show snapping selfies of themselves with an iPad set up at their level. (Wow, dogs can selfie? Well, maybe not without a little human help.)
Related: In Defense of the Selfie
Purina also launched a selfie campaign for its Beggin’ Strips product with the cute hashtag #BegginSelfie, which asked pet owners to post “selfies” of their dogs to star in its recent #SelfieSunday parade on Twitter. Woof, let me take a selfie.
The typically hyper macho-themed Unilever men’s grooming products brand apparently has a softer, more sentimental side, as evidenced by its recent mushy #KissforPeace selfie contest, which asked entrants to to post selfies of themselves smooching other people in support of Peace One Day’s worldwide efforts to promote nonviolence. And selfie smooch for their smartphones they did, in some, well, interesting ways.
The contest attempts to cleverly tie-in Axe’s new “Peace”-scented line of products, which a few lucky #KissForPeace contest winners will get “an arsenal” of.