Samsung announced its latest phabulous phablet at IFA the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, invited bloggers from all over the world to attend and Samsung would pay their way. Now, Samsung and one of bloggers are the center of a controversy.
Samsung has been known to fly bloggers from poor countries to distant lands to use Samsung products and write about them. One way we know that they are sponsored by Samsung is that they have to wear Samsung T-shirts.
For the Olympics there was a contest and Samsung sponsored young bloggers to cover the Olympics. They wore bright blue Samsung T-Shirts, made videos, danced around London and had a jolly good time. They were given Samsung Galaxy S III smartphones. In fact, thousands of Olympic participants were given the top-of-the-line smartphones. Some dancers in the opening the ceremonies were given Samsung Galaxy Note phablet and then were seen in videos saying how wonderful the devices were.
A French blogger found herself working eight hours a day a the Samsung's stores under surveillance and angry discussions over the quality of coverage in London at the Olympics.
For IFA, Samsung invited Indian bloggers to the "Unpacked" event in Berlin, Germany. There was a massive amount of miscommunication and misunderstandings.
Some bloggers reported that there were clear delineations on what bloggers were meant to be reporters and what bloggers were meant to be promoters. Amit Bhawani reported that reporters were invited only for the Samsung "Unpacked" event and were supposed to leave on September 1 while promoters would work at Samsung booths.
Clinton Jeff, from Delhi, claims that he told Samsung that he would accept the trip to Berlin and would cover the event as he saw fit as reporter. He answered an email that he wanted to be a reporter. When he arrived in Berlin, he was told he had to wear a uniform in the Samsung booth every day and demonstrate Samsung products to reporters. He refused to wear the uniform. Then was told he would not get a ticket back to India. He was also told verbally from a Samsung rep that he was to a reporter.
Nokia's rep heard about the situation and offered to cover Jeff's costs and cover the event as he wished.
Samsung's statement was “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.”
Jeff writes (as a freelancer) for the Hindustan Times, and also writes for his own publication at Unleash the Phone.
Some tech journalists note that whenever there is a junket, you can't be objective because the company is paying for the room, food, board and entertainment.
Samsung sent an email to Jeff, "I would like to reach out to you and deeply apologize to you for your experience in Berlin at IFA. We put you through undue hardship and we are trying to rectify the situation."
Meanwhile Clinton Jeff is now more famous than before and his blog traffic has probably increased greatly. Samsung has an image problem to fix and the Samsung Galaxy Note II is in the press more than ever before.
It turns out that Jeff never like Samsung phones he wrote on his bio, "Clinton Jeff is a long time Symbian user from when the Nokia 7650 was launched, but moved onto iOS last year, with his iPhone 4, and then a Nokia Lumia 800. Currently he’s using an HTC One X, and a Nokia 808 PureView. Two phones at once! Blasphemy!"
On the blog there are many favorable stories about Nokia at IFA.