White House Objects to Obama-'Big Papi' Selfie

Image: White House Objects to Obama-'Big Papi' Selfie

Friday, 04 Apr 2014 08:46 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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The White House objected to Samsung's use of the selfie Red Sox slugger David "Big Papi" Ortiz took of himself with President Barack Obama, saying the president doesn't want to be portrayed as an endorser for the company.

"As a rule, the White House objects to attempts to use the president's likeness for commercial purposes," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Thursday, "and we certainly object in this case," The Boston Globe reports.

Earlier this week, while Obama was honoring the Red Sox for its 2013 World Series win, Ortiz used his Samsung smartphone to snap his photo with a grinning Obama, after presenting the president with a No. 44 team jersey in honor of being the nation's 44th president.

The South Korean electronics maker employs Ortiz as a social media ambassador, and the Red Sox star posted the photo on Twitter, where it was retweeted thousands of times. Samsung also used the selfie on its Twitter page, sending it out to its 5 million followers.

Carney would not comment on whether White House lawyers contacted Samsung about stopping the photo, but noted that officials have objected to such uses of the president's image in the past.

Samsung has not commented on the White House's objection, but there will likely be little legal recourse for the Obama administration over the photo. The president said he did not know about Ortiz's professional relationship with Samsung.

But Samsung, according to the New York Daily News, played a role in the shot.

"Samsung said it was 'thrilled' at Ortiz's initiative, admitting the company had 'worked with David and the team on how to share images with fans,'" the paper reported. "We didn't know if or what he would be able to capture using his Note 3 device," the company said.

The Obama administration has had issues with companies trying to cash in on the president's image, which after he was elected as the first black president was sold on shirts, Chia Pets, posters and more. Even his "Yes We Can" slogan from 2008 was used in advertising, including Ben and Jerry's "Yes Pecan" ice cream and Southwest Airlines' "Yes You Can" promotion.

Ortiz told The Globe the selfie was his idea, and that he "wasn't trying to do anything" by it.
He admitted, though, that he had signed the deal with Samsung a few months ago, and claimed that the company "didn't know what would happen."

Red Sox Chief Operating Officer Sam Kennedy said the team was "thrilled with the spontaneity, warmth, and humor of 'Big Papi's Selfie'... "We didn't see it coming, and it was unrelated to the club's good relationship with Samsung."

Further, Kennedy said, Ortiz has taken selfies with many fans, wounded soldiers and others he has met, and "we hope he continues to act with his big heart and kind spirit."

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