Anton Moulder
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Ellen DeGeneres sent out the historic tweet Sunday night during the Oscars, racking up over 3 million retweets and possibly even breaking Twitter for 20 social-media-silent minutes.

Within the first hour, Ellen’s tweet beat Barack Obama’s most shared tweet around elections — racking up more than 1 million retweets and 450,000 favourites for her star-studded snapshot.

Stats
KevinSpaceyBomb
The folks at Visua.ly put together a fun infographic of the stats around the most retweeted selfie, click here to have a look.

What we do know is this seemingly spontaneous prank is actually a carefully thought out strategy at product placement for none other than the Oscar’s main sponsor Samsung. According to The Wall Street Journal Samsung spent over $20 million on ad placements during the awards show breaks and this cleverly planned stunt was dreamed up by their very capable agency 72andSunny and media shop Starcom.

Looking at a return on investment, the ‘selfie stunt’ obviously did far more for the brand than the immaculately produced commercials. Allen Adamson, managing director at Landor Associates, a branding firm owned by WPP PLC said:

“It was a great plug for the Samsung brand, Ellen’s selfie is going to be more impactful than their commercials. You can’t buy the magic of going viral.”

Without having to pay the usual celebrity brand endorsement deals the stunt leveraged,  this is another case study yet again of how traditional advertising is becoming less and less effective.

While no one would put an actual price tag on the boost to the Samsung brand, there is abundant evidence of the selfie’s value in the form of earned media stories, blog posts and even Facebook likes (2.1 million and counting). According to Kontera, Samsung achieved 900 online mentions per minute because of the stunt. In my opinion, a start-up that piggybacked on the back of the tweet benefited more than the very brand (Samsung) that planned the stunt. Below is my take on what made this a success and where this ‘branded stunt’ also fell down.

 

What Made this A Success?

Timing.

This couldn’t have been timed better if it was a scripted reality show. Let’s look at the elements in play here and how they all perfectly complimented each other in creating the ground swell of momentum leading to the viral storm that even crashed Twitter.

Before she snapped the shot, Ellen challenged her Twitter followers to make the pic the most retweeted photo in history, which got a small audience ready.  I think it is safe to say that an unusually large portion of the planet was watching the Oscars on TV and that most people had their phones within arms reach or very close to them. When the world witnessed the photo being taken live on TV, the first thing people did was search for Ellen DeGeneres or one of the celebrities in the huddle. It is also safe to say that the first action taken after finding the pic on Twitter was to retweet it. What then followed was the wave of ‘remixed’ meme’s further spreading this selfie infestation of awesomeness.

Samsung Donated a Dollar to Charity for Every Retweet.

Hats off to Samsung for offering to donate a dollor for every retweet to St. Judes and the Humane Society. The announcement was made on the Ellen Show, see a clip from the show below:

Don’t Ask People To Do Something They’re Not Already Doing.

Too many social strategies are asking people too much. Not to say that being completely inventive is impossible, but it is very difficult and your chances of being adopted are a lot less likely. Most of the time the most successful ‘socially centred’ campaigns are the ones that leverage an existing social culture. Something that people are already doing everyday. Think, Harlem Shake and how brands leveraged that, think #Neknominate and how it was turned round by brands as a force for good.

It is probably not coincidental that this too leveraged the culturally entrenched habit of taking a ‘selfie’ everywhere and anywhere.

 

Missed Brand Building Opportunities. 

I think Samsung missed one or two fairly obvious opportunities to extract the most value from their ‘branded stunt’.

The Brand Hashtag.

By simply asking Ellen to include a branded hashtag to the tweet, something like #SamsungFamousSelfie, Samsung would have fairly effortlessly increased their brand mentions. Below is an example of the original post and what I would have suggested:

EllenTweetOriginal

EllenTweetNew

The Online Meme Generator.

A random user from a start-up called Urturn kicked off the meme by creating a page using the feature which allowed people to add their own photo over the original. If you look at the dates of the last submitted photos to the Urturn site you will notice that this meme has had a far longer tail than the last retweeted photo.

Below is an example of the existing Urturn feature page.

Urturn-Photo-Uploader

Below is a mockup of what Samsung could have done if they had done what Urturn did and branded it. You will notice the inclusion of related Samsung phone features and social share functionality, as well as the ability for people to take part through an easy to use mobile interface, all from the desktop or mobile browser:

SamsungPhotoUploader

SamsungPhotoUploaderMobile


A Look at The ROI on This Phenomenal Viral Once-Off.

I would like to put forward a word of caution to brands and agencies looking for the golden key in this story with regard to how to recreate this for their own brand – don’t. While it was a planned once-off stunt that achieved out-of-this-world viral reach, from an engagement perspective all the sharing and retweeting was over within 48 hours.

If I were to judge this as a branded stunt, it was great and achieved a serious spike in brand mentions during the 3 hour awards ceremony period, with a slow tapering over the following few hours after the event online. If I were to judge this as a piece of brand communication with the objective of bringing attention to a feature of the phone or as a business driver; not so great.

While I do get the sense that this ‘branded stunt’ from Samsung was never intended to be a piece of communication all on its own, as mentioned above, it is my humble opinion that Ellen, Twitter and a little known start-up called Urturn got far more out of the ‘stunt’ than Samsung.

 

Source: Excerpts taken from the original article from The Wall Street Journal
Source: Experts also taken from the article written by Adage.

 

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