Two bloggers are claiming that Samsung threatened to leave them stranded at the IFA trade show in Berlin after they refused to become promoters for Samsung products.
Samsung has since released an official statement which chalks everything up to a “misunderstanding” between the two parties.
The two bloggers, Clinton Jeff of Unleash the Phones and another who wished to remain anonymous, were part of Samsung’s Mob!lers program, which offers bloggers the opportunity to be flown to trade shows for event coverage at the expense of the program sponsor (in this case Samsung).
Jeff claims that throughout the entire process, he made it abundantly clear to Samsung representatives that he wanted to be there covering the event in its entirety as a reporter, rather than simply as a promoter for Samsung products.
Several days prior to his departure, Samsung asked Jeff to provide his clothing measurements for what was supposedly a closed-door event.
Upon arrival, Jeff and the other blogger found a Mob!lers booth waiting for them.
They gave us our key, a Samsung shirt that we’d have to wear for “orientation” the next morning, and we’d have to be down in five minutes to go for the uniform fitting.
They were then told to come the next day to sign a nondisclosure agreement, and that they would have to be in uniform over the course of the event, at Samsung booths, showing off Samsung products to members of the press.
Jeff again reiterated that they had, in no uncertain times, told Samsung that they would be there to cover the event, and not be “booth babes” for Samsung.
At this point, Samsung allegedly cancelled their return tickets and hotel reservations, instead offering to fly them back on the 1st, right after Samsung’s unpacked event, and only if they wore the Samsung shirt and presented devices to the press.
The two bloggers wore the shirts, but refused to present the Samsung devices.
Samsung has since released a statement on the matter:
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.
We respect the independence of bloggers to publish their own stories.
Long story short, this is pretty shady behavior on Samsung’s part, and they should certainly take most of the blame for the misunderstanding. There are a few red flags, however, which should have alerted the two bloggers that something wasn’t exactly right, the most prevalent being the request for clothing sizes.
Secondly, why would the Koreans offer to pay for airfare and hotel stay to essentially ransom two independent bloggers to simply promote their mobile devices at a trade show to other members of the press? Surely, they could have found a person or two in Berlin for that job and it would have cost them significantly less.
Our take is that Samsung’s excuse at a misunderstanding is not far from the truth – the two gentlemen were probably enrolled in a promotional program, and either Samsung wasn’t clear enough about what was expected of them, or the thought of being flown to a trade show to cover the topic they love simply rendered the bloggers blind to the fine print.
Fortunately, the story got its happy ending after Nokia kindly offered to pay for their hotel stay and airfare for them to stay until the 6th and cover the rest of the event.