Ellen’s Selfie: Product Placement at the Oscars

If you tuned in to the Oscars on Saturday night or simply logged onto your Twitter account in the days following, you probably noticed a selfie taken by Bradley Cooper and tweeted out by Oscars host Ellen DeGeneres. The photo included many famous stars, including Brad Pitt, Meryl Streep, Kevin Spacey, and Jennifer Lawrence. This photo was taken by a Samsung Galaxy Note 3, a product placed by show sponsors Samsung and their media buying firm Starcom MediaVest. Samsung and Starcom negotiated to have the Galaxy integrated into the show as part of their ad pact with ABC.

Ellen’s selfie seemed spontaneous – she had talked about taking selfies at the Oscars in the days leading up to the event and she also discussed it being the most retweeted photo in all of Twitter. This photo had to beat out a photo tweeted by Barack Obama on the night of his reelection on Nov. 7, 2012, which currently holds 781,818 retweets but only had 779,295 at the time. The selfie reached 779,295 retweets within half an hour and had over 2 million by the end of the ceremony. The tweet actually crashed Twitter briefly due to the massive amount of attention it received. As of Wednesday afternoon, Ellen’s photo had 3,189,465 retweets. As you can tell, Samsung got a lot more than just product placement but also free publicity all over Twitter and major news networks thanks to Ellen’s retweet challenge.

The free publicity and word of mouth online commentary that Samsung has received thus far has been mostly positive. Kontera, a company that tracks social media content, said that 23% of commentary has been positive, 69% neutral, and only 8% has been negative.

Ellen taking a selfie on the night of the Oscars

Ellen taking a selfie on the night of the Oscars

However, questionable tweets that night from @TheEllenShow has viewers wondering what phone was Ellen using that night, as there were four tweets from an iPhone and five from Samsung. Do these tweets ruin the assumed validity of product placement? I think so. It undermines the point of product placement, as the promoter of Samsung’s products is also using the largest competitor of the Galaxy Note 3.


I think the product placement of the Galaxy Note 3 was highly effective for the most part. It was inconspicuously done and went off without a hitch – that is, unless you noticed where Ellen’s tweets were coming from throughout the night.

Another product placement at the Oscars on Saturday to note is that for Big Mama’s and Papa’s Pizza, the pizzeria that delivered pizza for the celebrities at the Oscars in the middle of the show. Coca Cola was a featured logo on the pizza boxes, and neither Big Mama’s and Papa’s nor Coca Cola paid for this placement. Coke wrote the pizzeria a thank you note for the free publicity, while Big Mama’s and Papa’s just seems to be thankful to supply and deliver pizza at the show.





DeGeneres (TheEllenShow), E. (2014, March 3). Twitter / TheEllenShow: If only Bradley’s arm was longer. .. [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/TheEllenShow/statuses/440322224407314432

Obama, B. (2012, November 6). Four more years. http://t.co/bAJE6Vom [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/BarackObama/statuses/266031293945503744

Oscars 2014 (2014, March 3). Oscar Selfie Ellen | The Moment the Most Famous SELFIE Ever Was Taken | Oscar 2014 [FULL] [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G87cwcR_58c

Silverman, D. (2014, March 3). Samsung paid big for Oscar placement, but Ellen used an iPhone backstage. Chron. Retrieved from http://blog.chron.com/techblog/2014/03/samsung-paid-big-for-oscar-placement-but-ellen-used-an-iphone-backstage/#21161101=2

Smith, C. (2014, March 4). Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscars selfie beats Obama retweet record on Twitter. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/mar/03/ellen-degeneres-selfie-retweet-obama

Vranica, S. (2014, March 3). Behind the Preplanned Oscar Selfie: Samsung’s Ad Strategy. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304585004579417533278962674

3 thoughts on “Ellen’s Selfie: Product Placement at the Oscars

  1. I definitely think the photo was all about product placement for samsung, and I agree I think it was pretty effective. I had no idea about the different tweets from different phones though.


  2. I did notice that it wasn’t as iPhone. I am also so impressed with Samsung’s PR, especially recently. They really know what they are doing and how to get their products out there


  3. I actually had no idea that the phone Ellen was using was not an iPhone, but although the advertising strategy didn’t work on me, I still think it was very smart of them to market through Ellen. Also considering that picture was considered the most popular selfie on the internet or something crazy like that.I was wondering why she kept insisting on taking selfies and pictures, but for some reason I never put it together that it was a marketing strategy, because i thought the phone was an iPhone and honestly they don’t need that kind of marketing.


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