While Ellen Degeneres set a retweet record with a spontaneous-looking star-studded selfie at the Oscar, reports circulating the web claim that it wasn’t a completely unplanned moment. Two people related to the matter told The Wall Street Journal, Samsung and its partner Starcom MediaVest had negotiated with Oscars and ABC TV network to include Galaxy smartphones as a part of its sponsorship and ad deal.

The report further claims that Samsung had given its smartphones to the organisers during the broadcast. According to the deal, ABC had promised the devices would get airtime. The sources further revealed that the ad strategy included product plugs such as displaying the device during red carpet segment and ABC also ran a clip of six aspiring young filmmakers touring Disney Studios taken using Samsung devices.

Greatest product placement for Samsung ever? AP
Ellen Degeneres was reportedly trained to take selfies (Image: AP)

Talking about the popular selfie, the host Ellen Degeneres had decided she wanted to take “selfies” during the show and ABC suggested she should use one of the Samsung devices as the company was a sponsor. It is also revealed that she was even trained to take selfies during show rehearsals. However, DeGeneres handed a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 to Bradley Cooper to take the now record-breaking selfie. Since the Oscars host’s Twitter posts from backstage included shots from an iPhone, Samsung doesn’t seem to be her smartphone of choice.

Samsung was a big presence at the Oscars besides being a commercial sponsor. The company gave its phones to student presenters and encouraged them to tweet and post to Instagram with them. Dozens of Samsung phones, tablets and TVs were used to make a digital photo display in the backstage green room.

Earlier ABC had said that Samsung did not pay specifically for use of the camera in DeGeneres’ selfie segment and the company wasn’t explicitly named on the air as the stunt unfolded, but it is a noticeably larger device than an iPhone. Spokeswoman Nicole Marostica said once producers decided to do the segment, it made more sense to use a Samsung product because the company was an Oscars sponsor.

Samsung has reportedly spent a whopping amount of around 20 million on ads that ran during Academy Awards broadcast. However, looks like, it managed to get the most promotional mileage from Oscars host Ellen DeGeneres during the show. The tweet had broken the record even before the show was over. “It was a great plug for the Samsung brand,” said Allen Adamson, managing director at Landor Associates, a branding firm owned by WPP PLC. “Ellen’s selfie is going to be more impactful than their commercials. You can’t buy that magic of going viral,” he added.

An estimated 43 million people watched 12 Years a Slave win the Oscar for best picture on Sunday night. It was the most-watched Academy Awards since 2004, when Lord of the Rings: Return of the King was the best picture. And it was the most popular entertainment event on TV since the “Friends” finale that year. The Oscars are generally the most-watched TV event of the year after the Super Bowl.

Oscar night was also big for Jimmy Kimmel. The ABC late-night star drew just under 7 million viewers for his post-Oscars special, the biggest audience he’s ever gotten on ABC, despite starting at 12:42 a.m. on the East Coast.

The ratings provide further evidence of how big event programming is a growth engine for broadcast networks, in large part because of fans watching the event and conversing with friends on tablets and smartphones. Twitter said that some 14.7 million tweets mentioning the Oscars or prominent actors and films were sent out during the Sunday night telecast, and Facebook said there were 25.4 million interactions about the show.

Social media was clearly a driving force Sunday and is why live events on networks “have become basically the currency,” co-producer Neil Meron told The Associated Press. “What it’s all about right now is creating a conversation, and social media allows for the conversation as it’s happening,” he said.

No social media moment was bigger than when host DeGeneres briefly caused Twitter to crash after going into the audience and asking Bradley Cooper to take a picture with several other stars crowding around. Besides Cooper and DeGeneres, Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Spacey, Julia Roberts, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt also crowded into the frame. She asked viewers to help her set a retweet record, and they quickly complied.

By Monday afternoon (Sunday night in the USA), it had been retweeted some 2.8 million times, shattering the previous record of 810,000 retweets for the photo of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hugging after the 2012 election. Twitter was humming at 254,644 tweets per minute after DeGeneres’ request, and the company said the crush disrupted service for 20 minutes.

Even more spontaneous was that galaxy of stars surrounding Ellen in the selfie shot. It was just supposed to be Streep, Zadan said. “I don’t think that Ellen even knew that all of those other stars would get out of their seats and jump in and be in the picture,” he said.

Oddly, the audience snapshot wasn’t a new element for DeGeneres. When she hosted the Oscars in 2007, she went into the audience and asked filmmaker Steven Spielberg to snap a picture of her with Clint Eastwood, saying she wanted to use it on Myspace.

Twitter said that most tweeted-about star on Oscar night was Jennifer Lawrence, with Brad Pitt coming in second. Gravity was the movie that was the subject of the most tweets during the show, followed by Frozen.

A total of 11.3 million people commented on the award via Facebook, the company said. The busiest commenters were women aged 18 to 34, Facebook said, and the one moment that drew the most attention was when “12 Years a Slave” won the award for best picture.

Jared Leto had his TiVo moment Sunday night. The company said the clip of Leto’s acting in Dallas Buyers Club was a moment when viewers paused their digital video recorders and rewound to see something again more than at any other point in the show.

(With inputs from news agencies)

Publish date: March 5, 2014 10:55 am| Modified date: March 5, 2014 10:55 am

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