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Including viral selfie, Samsung's Oscars 2014 ads cost it $20 million

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Samsung's product placements -- plural -- were long-planned before Sunday's Oscars, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. Even the viral selfie, which seemed unplanned, was "scheduled," more or less.

Samsung spent an estimated $20 million on ads to run during commercial breaks during Sunday's Academy Awards broadcast. In addition, as part of this deal, Samsung and its media buying firm Starcom MediaVest negotiated to have its Galaxy smartphone featured in the show, according to two people familiar with the matter.

ABC was given Samsung smartphones to divvy up and use during the program, with the network promising they would get airtime. For example, during the "red carpet" pre-show, ABC ran a clip of six aspiring young filmmakers touring Walt Disney Studios. These people were seen using Samsung devices.

Meanwhile, the selfie was somewhat evolutionary. DeGeneres had decided she want to take selfies during the broadcast, and ABC suggested she use a Samsung device since it was a sponsor. Apparently, DeGeneres was more familiar with her (assumed) iPhone; two people familiar with the events said that Samsung executives trained DeGeneres on how to use the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 during rehearsals.

The selfie was most likely more valuable for the Korean giant than the ads were. Allen Adamson, managing director at Landor Associates, a branding firm owned by WPP PLC said:

It was a great plug for the Samsung brand. Ellen's selfie is going to be more impactful than their commercials. You can't buy that magic of going viral.

The cost of the product placement was included in Samsung's overall package, one person familiar with the situation added.

DeGeneres' tweeting of the selfie certainly helped, and the post set a record, reaching nearly 3 million retweets as of Monday afternoon. The tweet didn't mention Samsung, nor was the phone visible, but the fact the shot was taken by a Samsung phone was clear on the TV screen at the time.

However, as we noted earlier, it seems that DeGeneres does not use a Galaxy Note 3 as her personal device. Or, at least, her assistants do not. Other tweets were clearly seen being taken with an iPhone.

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