Update 03.09.12 15:47 – Samsung have personally apologised to Jeff in an email – ‘We put you through undue hardship and we are trying to rectify the situation’. The official statement failed to apologise for the hardship, which shows a lack of real care. Jeff sent the email to The Next Web. I’ve added the full text to the bottom of this post.
Update 03.09.12 13:38 – Samsung has now issued a statement in response to this issue, scroll to bottom of this post to read.
I awoke this morning to a flurry of tweets regarding a rather large blogger outreach/relations fail by the tech giant Samsung, it would appear, in short, that Samsung invited a number of bloggers from India based mobile/tech blog, Unleash the Phones to the IFA (Consumer Electronics Unlimited) in Berlin with the intention to use these poor bloggers as ‘shills’ for the launch of their ‘Note 2′ phone. It is worth noting that brands often carry out this type of activity in order to give access to their latest products to bloggers, it works well when done on the basis that the blogger can remain impartial. Samsung don’t seem to understand this…
So what actually happened? According to reports, Jeff from Unleash the Phones was flown out to Berlin and put up in a hotel, courtesy of Samsung. Before Jeff went on the trip, he had been asked to supply his clothing measurements for some kind of uniform. This naturally will have aroused a little bit of suspicion, however he carried on regardless, buoyed by the prospect of access to Samsung and a plethora of further tech brands at the IFA show. From the moment Jeff & co arrived in Berlin, things started to get very strange, and quite frankly a bit crazy. I’m going to break this down in to bite size chunks of WTF!?! for you…
- Jeff had been asked in the invitation email if he wanted to attend as a reporter or a ‘promoter’ he chose reporter and clearly stated that he would not be blatantly promoting Samsung
- When they arrived at the hotel, they were met by Samsung people, given their room key and a Samsung shirt that was to be worn to ‘orientation’ in the morning
- As if the uniform wasn’t bad enough, they were then told that they had to be present at the Samsung show booth, all day in uniform (head to toe uniform) and that they must demonstrate the phones to show attendees. Dear lord!
- At this point, Jeff stated again that they were not there to promote or demonstrate the Samsung product. they were then whipped off to a meeting with a PR person during which Jeff reiterated his/their stance
- The bloggers were told they had some spare time, so they grabbed a coffee and discussed the situation, during the caffeine-stop he received a call from Samsung:
“We got a call from Samsung India saying ‘You can either be a part of this and wear the uniform, or you’ll have to get your own tickets back home and handle your hotel stay from the moment this call ends…
A few minutes later, we got a call from the Samsung India guy who said that our flights on the 6th have been cancelled, and that they’re bringing us back on the 1st instead. But this is only if, and only if, we agreed to wear at least the samsung branded shirt at the unpacked event, and not blog about any of this incident”
Yes, you are reading right, Samsung threatened to abandon these bloggers in Berlin. Wow.
Now they did go to the event, wearing the Samsung shirts, but did not work on the stand. They had very little choice as their plane tickets would be witheld otherwise. It transpires that their original return tickets had been cancelled. Shocking.
The event is still running and Jeff has luckily been told by another phone brand that they will put him up in a hotel and fly him back home to India.
What Samsung Need to do Now
At this point I must say that Samsung have not responded to this alleged issue. I’ve taken the content for this news piece from the originator of the story, The Next Web (look at the number of comments the post is racking up and you’ll see the level of feeling about this incident), who have contacted Samsung to verify the tale and attempt to get a comment. If there are untruths in Jeff’s tale, Samsung need to come out tell their side of the story. If the events did unfold as above, they need to publicly apologise and quickly at that.
Samsung have issued the following statement:
“Samsung Mob!lers is a voluntary community of active Samsung mobile device users, who are offered the opportunity to participate in our marketing events across the world. At these events, all activities they undertake are on a voluntary basis. No activities are forced upon them.
We regret there was a misunderstanding between the Samsung Mob!lers coordinators and the relevant blogger, as we understand he was not sufficiently briefed on the nature of Samsung Mob!lers’ activities at IFA 2012. We have been attempting to get in touch with him.
We respect the independence of bloggers to publish their own stories”
Not a particularly solid response. I expect this to rumble on for a good while yet…
Samsung’s Email to Jeff
Here is the email sent to Jeff that apologises to him for ‘undue hardship’. It wil be interesting to see what happens if they do meet and I’m sure Jeff will tell us all!
Thanks to The Next Web for breaking this story.
If you liked this post, please do share on Twitter >>>Tweet