Returning to host the Oscars for the second time, talk show host Ellen Degeneres made prominent display of a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 while taking selfie photos of herself among the stars.
That includes this photo Degeneres set up with a challenge to the television audience to make it the most-retweeted of all time. Ellen started staging the photo by plucking multi-Oscar winner Meryl Streep from the audience. She joked that since Streep broke the record for most Oscar nominations, she should also be involved in the photo. Other celebrities piled on from there.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) March 3, 2014
The previously most-retweeted photo of all time was Barack Obama’s first tweet following his reelection as President of the United States in November 2012. It appears to not have any product placement involved in the engineering of the moment captured, but rather an embrace between Obama and his wife Michelle.
Four more years. pic.twitter.com/bAJE6Vom
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) November 7, 2012
Of course, the Oscars win a huge television audience each year. Thanks to the so-called “second-screen” phenomenon, many of those viewers have a smartphone, tablet, or laptop handy to tap into the social media conversation while they watch. Samsung must have bet on that with its product placement of the Note 3, specifically working Twitter into the marketing plug.
Here is a chart of all US Twitter traffic in the last 12 hours. pic.twitter.com/4BdJEpRQLc
— Patrick Ruffini (@PatrickRuffini) March 3, 2014
American viewers had Samsung’s marketing message clearly connected by an advertisement during the commercial break featuring several devices in its Galaxy series of phones. But Canadian viewers didn’t see that ad, so it was a bit less obvious that Samsung had planned the moment.
While it’s not known how much Samsung paid for its device to take centre stage at one of the most-watched live televised events on the annual calendar, it’s clearly not shy to spend money on marketing its new devices. In 2012 it was the official sponsor of the London Olympics Games, a position that is known to cost upwards of $100 million.
It used the same “selfie” premise during the opening ceremonies when Rowan Atkinson (who plays the fictional TV character Mr. Bean) was placed in the orchestra, but then became bored and pulled his Samsung phone out of his pocket to start snapping photos. The Korean smartphone maker also gave out 2,500 free phones to Olympics athletes, many of whom had them out to take photos during the opening ceremonies, on display to the television audience.
For Twitter, the concept that people are paying just as much – if not more – attention to their feed while they watch TV is an important one. One of its advertising programs is Twitter Amplify, designed to deliver real-time ads to users tuned into a specific broadcast.
Kirstine Stewart, the head of Twitter Canada, was tracking Degeneres’ tweet as it broke the record and continued past 1 million retweets.
Degeneres acknowledge the record-setting tweet on air, just one hour after she took the photo. She joked that the flurry of activity had caused some disruption to Twitter’s services for some users.
“We made history, we really did,” she said. “We’re all winners tonight, that’s what it means.”