Who Owns David Ortiz's Selfie?

David Ortiz took this selfie when the Red Sox visited the White House to celebrate their win in the 2013 World Series. First there was a huge hue and cry because of the question of whether Samsung put him up to it (David says it was spontaneous, but he does have a contract with Samsung.)

Now the Obama White House is objecting to the commercialization of the image, because it's not "appropriate" for the president to be part of an ad campaign.

OK, let's look at what happened -- who did wrong?

Was Big Papi wrong to take money from Samsung? No, any athlete can sign an endorsement deal.

Was Ortiz wrong to ask for a selfie with the president? Look at that smile on Obama's face. He was having a good time. If he didn't want a selfie, he should have said no. This is a hell of a mobile moment. If it were me up there with the president, I hope I would have the courage to ask, too!

Was Samsung wrong to promote it? You could argue this, but frankly, Samsung has to be delighted.

Is the White House within its rights to object? I imagine so, and I understand their position.

But the bottom line is . . . if you're famous and someone takes your picture, it's going viral. You can try to object when the picture is taken. If you fail to object then, you've lost your opportunity. There's no way to undo this picture -- mobile moments have a way of spreading.

It's the Streisand Effect all over again. Mobile just makes it faster. Who owns that picture? At this point, the groundswell owns it, regardless of what the White House, Samsung, or David Ortiz might think.

Comments

Except deception is illegal in advertising

Josh,

Don't forget the research we did around "sponsored conversations" a few years back. There are rules for this stuff, even with social and mobile in mind. The FTC makes it really clear that "endorsements must be truthful and not misleading".
http://www.business.ftc.gov/documents/bus71-ftcs-revised-endorsement-gui...

When one of your spokespeople that your business pays uses the phone you pay him to promote to take a selfie that you then promote as a brand without disclosing any of the behind the scenes deals seems pretty deceptive to me. There's a reason "#ad" exists in Twitter.

Post new comment

If you have an account on Forrester.com, please login.

Or complete the information below to post a comment.

(Your name will appear next to your comment.)
(We will not display your email.)