White House Unhappy After Obama Selfie Turned Into Samsung Ad


President Obama may want to think twice now before casually approving a selfie with a celebrity. A self-portrait taken with Obama by Red Sox baseball player David Ortiz is being used by Samsung as a promotional pic, and the administration isn’t happy about it.

The Red Sox were visiting the President at the White House this past Tuesday to celebrate their World Series victory, and Ortiz was given the privilege of handing an honorary Red Sox jersey to Obama.

After posing for some press photos, Ortiz asked if he could take another picture with his own phone. “He wants to do a selfie. It’s the Big Papi selfie,” Obama responded before posing for the picture:

Shortly afterward, Samsung USA shared the photo with its 5+ million US followers:

The photo soon began to draw controversy after it was revealed that Ortiz is actually sponsored by Samsung through a promotional deal. It’s a contract the baseball player acknowledges, but he insists that the unexpected selfie was in fact spontaneous and not part of a marketing stunt.

ESPN quotes Ortiz as saying, “It wasn’t anything promotional, anything like that. I mean, who knows that you’re going to take a picture with the president? […] It was like, ‘Oh, wait a minute, let me see if I can get away with this.’ I was lucky that I was right there.”

According to CBS, the White House is making it clear they’re not pleased with the possibility that the photo may have been a stunt. Press Secretary Jay Carney is quoted as saying, “as a rule, the White House objects to attempts to use the president’s likeness for commercial purposes, and we certainly object in this case.”

Samsung is becoming quite skilled at using celebrity selfies for promoting its brand. You may remember that Ellen DeGeneres shot her own “spontaneous” selfie back at the Oscars last month using her Samsung phone:

The photo quickly became the most retweeted photo in the history of Twitter, amassing over 3 million shares. Interestingly (and ironically) enough, after that photo appeared, Obama was quoted as saying it was a “cheap stunt.

  • Fullstop

    Totally understandable Obama would feel like that. Ortiz is not on the list of approved photographers that are allowed to photograph Obama.

  • Jane Hobson

    Thing is, if the media didn’t report that it was taken on a Samsung, it wouldn’t be advertising Samsung!

  • alfabdall

    all this nonsense with Obamacare and they’re concerned about a selfie.

  • Renato Murakami

    Kind of a stupid discussion. So what? Would it be ok if it was taken with an iPhone? Or will they make some kind of requirement for “brandless” selfie shooting around the President or something? Should people with Samsung phones (sponsored or not) be forbidden to take selfies with celebrities/public figures because of it?
    If they are using it, they are using it period. This could be a hint for other brands to start advertising their stuff in the same way too… clothing brands, accessories, whatever.

    There’s a bigger argument there about people using a selfie taken by a celebrity as basis for his/her smartphone of choice, but let’s not go there.

  • Toby Hawkins

    If Samsung is using it for advertising wouldn’t they require a model release? All Samsung have done is shared a post which at most is about David Ortiz using a Samsung phone (which is a fact), and aside from that I don’t really get it, if it wasn’t taken with a Samsung phone it would have had to have been taken with some other brand phone.

    On a personal note, I have a Galaxy Note 3… the camera is awful.

  • Gimmeabreak

    Wait a minute.. the guy who takes selfies at funerals is upset about this?…

  • Gimmeabreak

    Obama is a selfie whore. It’s the commercial use that’s the issue, but that’s not even an issue. All Samsung did was retweet. Too bad soo sad Mr Pres.

  • greenarcher02

    Samsung should not have retweeted it.

  • dingo

    Its as spontaneous as the one from the Oscars…today
    everything is viral marketing

  • uncle max

    Precisely so – diversions, diversions, diversions.

    Between December 7, 1941 and the surrender of the Japs in August of 1945 it was a little less than 4 years – starting from SCRATCH. We built the greatest military the world has ever seen – fighting a World War defeating Germany Italy and the japs.

    Obamacare was passed in March of 2010 and in the ensuing 4 years since then they STILL haven’t got it working.

    Perhaps because it is unworkable – they admitted at the outset that they didn’t know what was in it.

  • me

    Interesting that this administration allowed copyright laws to lapse so that any company can now use any picture posted on line for their own marketing without any consent