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The Marketing Of Big Papi’s Presidential Selfie

Boston Red Sox designated hitter David "Big Papi" Ortiz, left, takes a selfie with President Barack Obama, holding a Boston Red Sox jersey presented to the president during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 1, 2014, where the president honored the 2013 World Series baseball champion Boston Red Sox. (AP)

Boston Red Sox designated hitter David “Big Papi” Ortiz, left, takes a selfie with President Barack Obama, holding a Boston Red Sox jersey presented to the president during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 1, 2014, where the president honored the 2013 World Series baseball champion Boston Red Sox. (AP)

Let’s face it, the charming selfie taken by David Ortiz with President Obama at the White House yesterday was a great picture. Ortiz and President Obama with their great big grins, Obama holding a Sox jersey with his name on it, all very re-tweetable. Which it was. More than 18,000 times, including by us, within an hour of Ortiz posting it on his Twitter feed. Well, Wednesday we found out that there was more to that moment than just jovial spontaneity. It turns out that Ortiz has an endorsement deal with mobile giant Samsung, which in some way led to yesterday’s wildly viral selfie with the president. It was a great moment for the Sox and an advertising coup for Samsung.

Guests

Doug Tribou, producer for Only A Game. He tweets at @DougTribou.

David Gerzof Richard, digital media and marketing professor at Emerson College. Founder of BIGfish Communciations. He tweets at @davidgerzof.

Highlights

On Samsung’s involvement with David Ortiz’s selfie:
David Gerzof Richard: “Samsung didn’t ‘learn’ that David Ortiz was going to be at the White House. This is history repeating itself over and over again. For the last ten years, championship teams go to the White House. So then, from a marketing perspective, the marketing team takes a step back and says, ‘Who on the Red Sox is the most outspoken, outstanding person that we think is going to get in front of Obama?’ It would be Ortiz.”

On whether this is an example of marketing:
DGR: “It is marketing. And what it is, is it’s a trend hack. A trend hack is when you have multiple trends intersecting, and you take advantage of that. Trend one is championship teams going to the White House. Trend two is the notion that you have a president who takes selfies — there’s a history of that with Obama. Having players that take selfies, there’s certainly a history of Big Papi doing that. There’s this overlap — knowing that is a moment that, even for someone like Big Papi, is a special, one-of-a-time moment where you’re at the White House and you’re meeting the president. That’s not something that happens — even if you’re a major league slugger — every day.”

On the quality of the picture:
DGR: “It’s really hard to take a lousy picture with some of these point-and-click phones. We have no idea what went on behind the scenes. It could have been that part of this contract with Big Papi and Samsung was an hour-long selfie session that teaches you how to take the best selfie to hit it out of the park.”

On whether “selfie sessions” are really written into these contracts:
DGR: “Oh, all the time. If you look at another local athlete — Julian Edelman. Julian Edelman is very, very tech-savvy. So Google, when they started looking at getting celebrities to endorse and use their technology, picked only two NFL football players to give Google Glass — this is the eyeglasses with the integrated computer. Julian Edelman is one of only two NFL players running around with this. Why? Because he’s someone who understands social media and tweets a lot and really gets the technology.”

On whether Samsung gained anything from the selfie:
DGR: “It’s brand association, and that’s really what they’re going for. Think about the sneakers that NBA players where. When you’re watching a game you don’t hear what pair of sneakers Shaq is wearing. But once he wins a championship, everybody wants to go out and buy the sneakers that the champions wore. Or when you win the championship there’s the old, ‘I’m going to Disney World.’ It’s thinking ahead and backing the right horses.”

On pointing out the phone brand:
DGR: “The Galaxy Note 3 is not included in the actual tweet, so where do you talk about this new phone by Samsung? It’s in all the media coverage that washes over us afterwards. If you do a Google search on David Ortiz and selfie, you will find that there’s over — I think it’s like 1,600 hits now that include the words Samsung, Ortiz and selfie.”

On whether a Samsung executive would be happy about how this went:
DGR: “If you look at just that Google search and the play that this story is getting, the fact that we’re talking about it on-air right now, that the Globe reported on it. It’s beyond just Boston. The Washington Post covered it, west coast papers have covered this. If you were to place an advertising spend dollar on that, it would far exceed whatever agreement they have with David Ortiz.”

On whether the president was an inadvertent prop:
DGR: “I think presidents of the United States have found themselves as inadvertent props for quite some time. It’s just that this is a new platform that they’re finding themselves on. The nice thing about social media is it’s by-directional. What that means is, opposed to a radio broadcast, which is unidirectional, there’s a lot of back and forth and conversation. And it gives just about anyone a platform, including a sports athlete. And once that happens, it creates multiple opportunities for them, beyond just that endorsement of, say, a car company or a drink. They can be promoting whatever it is that they’re passionate about — and over time, the brands can find athletes that are talking about what’s relevant to their brand. And you can tap into it, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing here. The Oscars, for example, is another perfect example of that. It’s not that someone came up with this great idea, ‘Let’s have Ellen do a selfie.” Ellen’s been doing selfies for a while. She’s a very great early adopter of social media and is very savvy in the way that she uses it, so it really doesn’t take a brainiac to take it an extra step and say, ‘Hey, let’s just hand her one of our phones and have her use our phone instead of her own.'”

More

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  • “After he spoke, Obama posed for pictures with the team — including for a selfie snapped by Sox slugger David Ortiz.”

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