Samsung to bloggers: Promote our products at IFA or walk home
The company reportedly flew bloggers 3,500 miles to IFA in Germany -- then told them to don uniforms, man a booth and promote Samsung products or lose their return-flight tickets.
Memo to bloggers: If Samsung offers to fly you to an event, make sure you have your own return-trip ticket.
According to a detailed story in The Next Web, some time back Samsung reportedly reached out to some mobile-tech bloggers in India and offered to fly them to the IFA 2012 conference now under way in Berlin. One of the bloggers -- Clinton Jeff of New Delhi -- said he made clear that he would only attend the conference as a reporter, and that he would not be doing any promotional work for the company. Samsung reportedly had no issues with that.
In the weeks leading up to the conference, however, the bloggers encountered a number of warning signs -- such as Samsung's request for their clothing measurements. And sure enough, upon arrival in Berlin, the bloggers were presented with Samsung shirts, told to report for uniform fitting, and informed that they'd be manning a Samsung booth throughout the conference -- where they'd be "showing the products to members of the press."
When Jeff demurred, a PR representative from Samsung India allegedly told him over the phone that "[y]ou can either be a part of this and wear the uniform, or you'll have to get your own tickets back home and handle your hotel stay from the moment this call ends."
Samsung quickly reversed itself, at least partially. A few minutes later, the same representative told Jeff that the company would pay for his return flight -- albeit five days earlier than planned, leaving him no time to cover the conference. But that was only if the bloggers agreed to wear Samsung shirts at one event and never to blog about the incident.
Jeff made it through OK, as he tweeted earlier today:
For everyone asking, I'm fine thanks! I have a hotel, I have tickets home, thanks to— Clinton Jeff (@clintonjeff) September 2, 2012
@nokia who swooped in and helped me @ the last minute
But if you're a less-than-well-off blogger counting on Samsung's largesse -- well, be on your guard.
I've contacted Samsung's global PR team for comment and will update this story if and when I hear back.
Update September 3: Samsung has issued a statementfor the "misunderstanding" and has apologized for the "undue hardship."