While Lupita Nyong’o was certainly not the first to take a selfie, the rising actress’s starring role in the Selfie Heard ‘Round the World on Oscar night has inadvertently led us to the selfie epidemic, or “selfidemic.”

 

The selfidemic reached historic, Presidential proportions last week when Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, whose Nyong’o-like approval ratings would make any world leader swoon, playfully wrapped his mitts around President Barack Obama during a White House visit and snapped the second most famous selfie of the season.

 

Like Ellen DeGeneres’s selfie masterpiece, Big Papi’s POTUS pose seemed like the ultimate expression of spontaneous joy, the rarest glimpse at rarified personalities sharing a genuine bigger-than-life moment. Moreover, it was perhaps the first truly unscripted image to come from the White House in decades — until we realized it was actually the exact opposite. Once again, we had been Samsung-ed, which the company reminded us on its Twitter feed, unable to contain its giddiness at buying its way into Ortiz’s hands and, by extension, into the White House inner sanctum.

 

The White House did not take kindly to the Samsung product placement ploy, so much so that they are considering a lifetime ban on Presidential selfies. There is, of course, nothing wrong with Samsung or any other entity spending large sums of money to attach themselves to premium entertainment events or personalities. On the contrary, it might qualify as a stroke of marketing genius. One must consider when you have enough money to buy all the access, is there not also a bit of genius in discretion, in daring to protect the sanctity of certain institutions and leaving some things to the imagination?

 

As a consumer, I am not offended that the President was unwittingly lured into a commercial campaign. I am offended that the selfie was used to set the trap. The very purpose of a selfie is to capture life’s most candid, unfiltered moments, to serve as our new universal signal that it is OK to let down your guard.

 

The Ortiz-Obama incident violated the institution of the selfie just as much as it did the institution of the White House. The baseball equivalent would be hiring a five-year-old kid to ask Ortiz for an autograph, then immediately selling the piece of paper to the highest bidder — doing so right in front of Ortiz. It just oozes, “gotcha.”

 

If selfies have, indeed, joined the list of commodities that can be bought and sold by marketers, what is their responsibility to reveal this content as such upfront? I have to imagine that consumers will be more forgiving if they know what they are seeing is scripted, rather than being presented as something that is purely organic, only to feel swindled after the fact.

 

Samsung’s selfie stunts may have come at a bigger price than they could have ever imagined. Making us question the spontaneity of our spontaneity. What is far worse, making us think of Nyong’o in a negative light, knowing that she was part of the beginning of the end for the selfie.

 

What do you think of the Samsung selfie escapades? Harmless fun, or do they make you more skeptical as a consumer? Let’s talk marketing integration strategies — or reaffirm how awesome Big Papi and Lupita Nyong’o are -– here in the comments section below, or you can always find me on Twitter @endbadly.