Dear marketers, please don’t get any ideas from Ellen’s Oscar selfie

When something gets tweeted so many times that it breaks Twitter, marketers pay attention. In this case, it was the selfie heard around the world. Ellen DeGeneres’ famous self-taken photograph at the Oscars became the most retweeted tweet of all time. And now everyone’s looking for the marketing lesson in it.

Here’s the lesson. There is no lesson. And if there is, please ignore it.

Please stop praising Samsung for its genius in planning the stunt. And please stop criticizing it for inserting itself into the Oscars. Who cares if it was organic or if it was a sponsored promo? Of course Ellen planned it. Of course it was going to go viral, it was a picture filled with some of the most famous and most beautiful people in the world getting together for an impromptu mini-celebration that briefly made the viewer feel like they were intimately part of it. 

Things go viral all the time. Sometimes its the result of creative genius, or smart, strategic marketing. In this case, the simplest possible explanation is probably the most viable. Which is, people like looking at celebrities. 

As a marketer, if you’re being called in to meetings on how to replicate this Oscar stunt at future award shows, please quit right now. Please don’t brainstorm any more ideas about how to “organically” insert yourself into celebrity gatherings. They are already selling enough stuff for you. Besides, we’ll know the difference between product placement and something happening because they just happen to like and use your product.

Take a break. Don’t sit hunched over Twitter waiting for the next “real-time” marketing moment, making awful puns about the show everyone is watching, or inserting yourself into conversations. I may think DiGiorno’s Pizza has a hilarious twitter account sometimes. But I have yet to buy its pizza. 

Don’t hold strategy sessions around “selfies” as a thing. It isn’t “content.” It isn’t a way to tap into the zeitgeist. A selfie is just a picture somebody takes of themselves. People have literally been doing it for centuries.

The Oscars are over, and that selfie was awesome. Let us leave it confined to the annals of pop culture history where it belongs. And you can go back to all the other creative, inspiring ways of building a brand that don’t involve breathlessly trying to emulate a moment that’s passed.

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