DeGeneres Selfie Makes Twitter, Samsung Oscar Winners

Add Twitter Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. and Coca-Cola Co. to the list of winners at last night’s Oscars ceremony for their product-placement coups.

Twitter, the microblogging site, was flooded with traffic after host Ellen DeGeneres waded into the audience for a photo during the Los Angeles event, telecast on Walt Disney Co.’s ABC.

She gathered up Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Spacey, Jared Leto and Lupita Nyong’o, and handed her Samsung smartphone to Bradley Cooper to take the shot. The impromptu selfie set the record for the most-retweeted post ever and temporarily disrupted Twitter’s service for some users, bringing the microblogging site tons of publicity.

“We crashed and broke Twitter,” DeGeneres said later from the stage. “We made history.”

The awards themselves were dominated by “12 Years a Slave,” which won three Oscars including best picture and best supporting actress for Nyong’o, and “Gravity,” which took home seven statuettes. Leto was recognized for his supporting role in “Dallas Buyers Club.” Brad Pitt, who produced “12 Years a Slave,” was in the picture as well.

By today, the selfie had been retweeted more than 3 million times, crushing the previous record set by President Barack Obama after his re-election in November 2012. His “Four more years” post has been retweeted more than 780,000 times.

“If only Bradley’s arm was longer,” DeGeneres posted. “Best photo ever.”

The photo also got almost 1.9 million likes on Facebook.

Pizza Party

Coca-Cola also got some unexpected publicity when DeGeneres ordered pizza for the show’s attendees. The box, with a logo of the brand printed on the side, was shown on the telecast. The telecast attracted an average of 43 million viewers, up about 6 percent from last year, for its biggest audience in a decade, ABC said today, citing Nielsen data.

Coca-Cola pulled out of this season’s Oscars after years hawking Diet Coke to the show’s female-skewing television audience. PepsiCo filled the void, pushing its Pepsi-Cola mini cans with a cast of big name stars like Cuba Gooding Jr.

So it was a boon for Coke that its logo caught the cameras as Ellen and a starstruck delivery man carried pizza from Big Mama’s and Papa’s Pizzeria to the likes of Pitt, Harrison Ford and Kerry Washington.

‘Surprised, Delighted’

“Big Mama’s & Big Papa’s Pizzeria is a longstanding Coca-Cola customer,” Lauren Thompson, a spokeswoman for Atlanta-based Coca-Cola, said today in an e-mail. “We were surprised and delighted to see them appear during last night’s Academy Awards and think they did an outstanding job of bringing some extra fun and excitement to the show.”

Big Mama’s, a Los Angeles-based chain with 20 locations in the county, wasn’t forewarned. The restaurant’s Hollywood outlet received the pizza order that night much as it often does, according to Wayne Grigorian, who works in the corporate office for the privately held chain. Normally, he said, the delivery people drop the pies off at the backstage door. This time the employee was invited into the theater.

“Ìt was a pleasant surprise,” Grigorian said in a telephone interview. “We’re getting bombarded by telephone calls and e-mails.” The company is featuring shots from the Oscars on its web page.

Ellen’s use of a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 phone for the group photo wasn’t happenstance. Samsung, based in Suwon, South Korea, was a sponsor of the Oscars and used the show to introduce its “One Samsung” campaign highlighting a range of products including the Galaxy Note Pro tablet, the Galaxy S5 phone, the Gear 2 smartwatch and a curved ultra-high-definition TV.

‘Product Integration’

The Oscar sponsorship included use of Samsung’s products during the show, said Ashley Wimberly, a U.S. spokeswoman for the company.

“What that product integration was going to be, we weren’t 100 percent clear on,” Wimberly said.

Samsung phoned DeGeneres today and suggested making a $1 donation to her favorite charities for every retweet, Wimberly said. She agreed, and Samsung is donating $3 million to be split between the Humane Society of the U.S. and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“We wanted to say thanks for doing this,” Wimberly said. “It was an incredible moment.”

Altogether there were 17.1 million Oscar-related tweets during the show, San Francisco-based Twitter said today in a blog post.

ABC last month reached a deal with Twitter’s Amplify, which promotes televised events in real time, becoming the last of the four major networks to sign on, Advertising Age said last month.

The academy, which organizes the awards, took credit for the Twitter outage.

“Sorry, our bad,” the Academy said on its Twitter account.

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