The story behind the record breaking Oscars selfie

It is safe to say that the Ellen DeGeneres' Oscar selfie was deserving of an Oscar all by itself. It was perhaps one of the greatest moments in the history of the awards show, and it was the first time they had done any type of integration inside the program with a company or brand. We all saw the selfie, and many of us (3,397,886 to be exact) retweeted the photo. However, not everyone knows the full story and all the planning, that occurred in order for this iconic event in pop culture, to happen.

Emily Dunsmore the Director at Starcom MediaVest Group and Madison Bohunicky who is responsible for Samsung integrations and sports partnerships at the same company, visited Syracuse University to talk about how it all came together.

Oscars Selfie Presentation

Despite there never being a product integration at the Oscars, Samsung was able to pull it off in large part due to Ellen wanting to have a segment in which she utilized a phone. Due to a deal that Samsung has with ABC network, that phone had to be a Samsung android phone. Voila, it was that simple... Well, not quite.

According to Ms. Dunsmore, one of Samsung’s challenges is finding “Next Big Thing,” after all that is the company’s slogan. They had to find something that was innovative and appealing to their target audience which is the millennials, and especially the women within that age group. Now, if you are a woman within the 18-34 age range the chances of you having an Apple iPhone (Samsung’s main competitor) are much higher, meaning you are the ones that Samsung wants to target. Male millennial numbers are much more competitive.

Emily Dunsmore Presenting

Another challenge was to make the moment of the selfie very spontaneous. Millenials appreciate authentic moments, the ones that are not staged. This might answer some of our questions as to whether the moment was planned or not. While Samsung made sure Ellen had the phone for the segment and customized it for her convenience, it was not planned that she take a selfie with so many superstars. When that happened, Samsung hit the pot luck. In that selfie were: Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Spacey, Jared Leto, Channing Tatum, and Lupita Nyong’o. Just to have Brad Pitt in an advertising campaign for Samsung would have cost millions and millions of dollars.

The selfie was only a part of a much larger advertising campaign. Samsung had all of it’s technology on display at the Oscars, and made sure that all of its partners were using them. They had the E! channel reporters wearing the Samsung Gear (the smart watch) along with using the Samsung tablets. They also had Yahoo using their equipment to contribute to the reporting of the show. They made sure to have their whole product line was prevalent throughout the show.

This master plan shows how companies are using all sorts of media and the convergence within them to disseminate their message. The prime example being how they used social media via cable television to make it into the history books.

They are also continuing to innovate different ways of getting the audience to where they usually would not have access to, according to Ms. Bohunicky. Most recently seen with the Twitter Mirror in the MLB All Star game in which tablet stations where set up so that players could take their own selfie and annotate the photo. It was a way for fans to be able to share a virtual experience with the players on the field.

Madison Bohunicky Presenting

Something she said that they would have done differently was make sure that everyone was on the same page as it related to their plan and the social team responsible for Ellen’s interactions on social media. This is due to the photo tweet of Ellen with Channing Tatum that was sent from an iPhone.

When asked about the controversy surrounding the selfie Red Sox ball player David “Big Papi” Ortiz took with President Obama and whether it had been planned or not, the answer was simply “we just made sure” he had the phone.

Something interesting that was mentioned and that I do not believe got as much social media exposure as the selfie was the fact that Samsung donated one dollar for every retweet (about $3M in total) to two charities chosen by Ellen, along with giving a phone to Ellen’s audience on the following Ellen DeGeneres show.

Overall, it was about breaking records for the Oscars and Samsung. For the Oscars it was the most viewed show since 2000 along with 88 million social media impressions. Samsung had 69 thousand brand mentions along with a total value estimated at 621 MM from all types of media responses.

Lastly, a selfie of my own with Madison Bohunicky, the presenter and one of the people responsible for this very successful ad campaign!