A few days ago boxer Manny Pacquiao was given a Samsung phone in an effort to get some of the attention from his fight to carry over to Samsung products.
Pacquiao’s Twitter account posted a picture of it, and included a Samsung hashtag in that and several subsequent tweets. Most of those tweets were posted from the Twitter website or from a “social management tool”. Earlier today, after the fight, when Pacquiao posted another picture and thanked his fans for their support, it was tweeted by — you guessed it — Twitter for iPhone.
There’s a long history of this happening with Samsung, from Ellen Degeneres to Kate Upton to David Beckham, and it’s not just Samsung. Oprah infamously tweeted about how much she loved the Microsoft Surface and — you guessed it again — had the tweet sent from the iPad.
Celebrity endorsements are nothing knew. The companies who pay for them hope that you’ll see a celebrity you like using a Brand X phone, and maybe decide you’d like a Brand X phone as well. Yet over and over again we’ve seen celebrities claim to endorse a rival product and either at the same time or right thereafter betray that they’re really still using Apple instead. That generates buzz alright, but it also generates laughs and more than a little embarrassment.
Because, at the end of the day, it comes off as a lie.
They’re offering money to get celebrities to use something they otherwise don’t use in an effort to get us to buy the very thing the celebrity isn’t using.
There was a time when a celebrity could shill Pepsi and drink coke, do ads for Nike and wear Reebok, but phones are just so personal and social media so everywhere that those times are past.
Does it make the celebrities look duplicitous or for sale? Does it make the vendor look silly or desperate? I’m not sure. I do know that if you’re Samsung and the celebrity that you want associated with your brand really uses Apple, paying them to pose with your phone isn’t a viable solution anymore. You need to make a phone they want to use even when you’re not paying them. Fix that problem, and the social media problem and buzz marketing fixes itself.
Unless and until that happens, we’ll likely see more product placements gone wrong. Or right, if you’re Apple.