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Manufacturing Indaba 2018

Let's take a selfie!

We all know that one of the best ways brands can engage consumers is to tap into popular culture, but to also have the courage to relinquish control and let the idea run - now that is brilliant strategy and why Samsung nailed it with that now-famous Oscars selfie.
You've probably heard the song by now, '#SELFIE' by The Chainsmokers, which is "so ratchet" it's become brilliant commentary on the current selfie obsession.

The definition of the word selfie at is: "A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website: occasional selfies are acceptable, but posting a new picture of yourself every day isn't necessary." (Hellooooo, Kim Kardashian, etc!). Selfie is defined as a noun and the plural is selfies.

And while it was voted the most annoying word of the year by the popular Lake Superior University's 2014 Banished Words list for 2013, along with words like 'twerk' and 'hashtag'; it was also voted word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries.


It's probably the most viewed selfie of all time to date, and certainly the most retweeted: the one Oscars host, Ellen DeGeneres took, supposedly spontaneously, with a whole gaggle of major Hollywood stars. By the next afternoon, 3 million people around the world had seen it and it spawned another meme when a new website popped up the next day to allow anyone who wanted to, to insert themselves into the famous Oscar selfie and share it.

According to the Wall Street Journal Samsung was getting about 900 mentions a minute on social media at one juncture (source: Kontera).

Go Chloe!
Of course, the selfie stunt at the Oscars wasn't entirely unscripted and spontaneous. Samsung spent an estimated US$20m on ads that ran during the Academy Awards broadcast in February. And it was part of the sponsorship and ad agreement with the Oscars network, ABC, that Samsung's media buying firm Starcom Mediavest negotiated - which was to also have the Samsung Galaxy smartphone integrated into the premier entertainment awards show.

Apparently, the idea to take selfies at the show came from DeGeneres herself and ABC suggested she use the Samsung device, which she was then trained to use by Samsung. Product placement at its best, but no one could have predicted how it would have panned out - getting so many Hollywood stars into one picture, appearing so spontaneous, and having it go viral to such an extent.

Marketing gold

It is a brilliant content marketing strategy and while product placement has been around for years as an advertising strategy, the key to its brilliance and success in this case is the authenticity and the fact that the brand was willing to let events unfold. It didn't have all the control - they had to relinquish some of it and leave it up to the stars. A huge risk - it could have come out blurry, or bombed in some other way.

This was pure marketing gold and it wasn't totally scripted and it appeared totally authentic, one of the reasons it went viral to the extent it did. And Samsung believed enough in its brand to take the risk. More marketers should try it.

Selfies aren't going anywhere soon, more's the pity, and it taps into the popular culture need for everyone's five minutes of fame. Gearing up for April Fool's, Google mocked the obsessive craze with its "Shelfie" prank, which basically told Gmail users via a pop-up notification, that they could share their selfie-themed Gmail background with others (share + selfie = shelfie), reported The Huffington Post: "As the pioneering platform for selfies, Gmail is committed to being at the forefront of innovation in the selfie space," Google Software Engineer Greg Bullock writes in the post. "And we think it's a tragedy that your handsome hair, luscious lashes and beautiful brows have been trapped in your own inbox." even wrote an article about how selfies are "eating culture" because people are doing moronic things, essentially, to get the ultimate selfies. Bit of a stretch, there's always been idiots doing idiotic things. I'm sure even Shakespeare had to contend with people trying to hog the limelight at his plays in ye olden days by shouting out wittier things or standing up to give soliloquies of their own.

POSTSCRIPT: Okay, confession time: I did it too. I inserted a pic of my sausage dog, Chloe, into the Oscar selfie and tweeted it out. Right by Brad Pitt. Where many of us would love to be. .

TRENDAFRiCA is a trend watching portal on consumer insight, research and trends from South Africa and further afield on the continent of Africa. It includes DAiLY trends headlines from around the world, influential Trendspotter columnists and in-depth reports on industry segments. Louise Marsland is the founder and editor.
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About Louise Marsland

Louise Marsland is currently Africa Editor:; a Content Strategist and Trainer; and Trend Curator for and her own She has been writing about the media, marketing and advertising communications industry in South Africa for over 20 years, notably, as the previous Editor of Media & Marketing; Editor-in-Chief AdVantage magazine; Editor Marketing Mix magazine; Editor Progressive Retailing magazine; Editor Business Brief magazine and Editor FMCG Files ezine.