White House Objects to Samsung Promoting ‘Selfie’ With President

Apr 03, 2014 11:21 pm ET

April 4 (Bloomberg) -- The White House has objected to Samsung Electronics Co. promoting a picture of President Barack Obama with players from the World Champion Boston Red Sox that was taken using one of its devices.

David Ortiz used his Samsung Galaxy Note 3 to take a “selfie” with the president at a reception this week to honor Boston’s 2013 World Series victory. The baseball slugger put the picture on his Twitter Inc. feed, which Samsung’s U.S. unit reposted to its 5.26 million followers.

“As a rule, the White House objects to attempts to use the president’s likeness for commercial purposes,” Obama spokesman Jay Carney told reporters yesterday. “We certainly object in this case.”

He declined to say whether White House counsel was in talks with Samsung. Clara Lee, a spokeswoman for the Suwon, South Korea-based electronics maker, declined to comment on the reaction by the White House.

The Ortiz picture is the second time in a month that Samsung has attracted global headlines for self-portraits taken with its smartphones. In March, Oscars ceremony host Ellen DeGeneres took a picture with actors including Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, a snap that set a record for the most re-tweeted post ever and disrupted Twitter’s service for some users.

Samsung worked with Ortiz and his team on how to share images with fans, the Boston Globe reported, citing Samsung.

In 2009, White House lawyers began examining ways to control the use of the president’s image. Michelle Obama previously objected to the sale by Beanie Babies-maker Ty Inc. of dolls with the same names as her daughters.