And the Oscar Goes to... Product Placement!

First things first: HERO client Haworth Chairs made a cameo during the Oscars as part of the clip from the best picture nominated Her. Like the awesome logoed Rocawear shirt that grabbed some mad screen love in the trailers and released clips from the Liam Neeson #1 weekend release Non-Stop, we can never predict how much top shelf exposure our client’s placements will get.

Okay, now on to the Oscars. Remember the twitter-crashing mega-selfie Ellen Degeneres took with her superstar friends? What if that wasn’t an impetuous decision? What if it was planned (dramatic music sting)? According to an Advertising Age article published a few days before the Oscar ceremony, Samsung and ABC knew there would be exposure in the offing. Here are a few fun facts that dispel the just-foolin-around myth the selfie is enjoying.

First, understand that the selfie was shot on a Samsung phone:

  • Samsung has been ranked No. 5 in the top Oscar advertisers From 2009-2013, it spent $24 million
  • Samsung purchased more than five minutes of airtime during Sunday night’s Academy Awards broadcast.
  • The Oscar TV creative work will also appear on digital and social media, and on network, cable and online after show.
  • Samsung is a top digital ad buyer too. ABC sells display and video ads on and the mobile app.
  • Samsung sponsored a series of tweets of celeb selfies.

So the evidence makes it pretty clear that Ellen wasn’t just clicking away with her clique; she was hawking a brand. There is a thin line between brand integration and product placement. generally it’s based on the overt nature of the brand’s presence.  For instance, the Cokes on the judge’s desk on American Idol is an obvious brand integration. But here, as we watch Ellen just messing around with what we assume is her own smartphone, never saying the brand’s name or really putting the logo in our face, we fall into a grey area. Fortunately, we do have one more bullet point that put the whole onscreen use issue in perspective.  According to Slate Magazine, Ellen apparently switched to her iPhone when she thought no one was looking!  She sent this tweet 12 minutes earlier—note the “via Twitter for iPhone” stamp.

Ellen iphone tweet