So, Nokia is not very awesome++ at all, in my opinion, and in fact even though what Samsung did was very shitty, it kind of pales in comparison.
In all fairness, two and a half year later, a human rights lawyer contacted them and told them this was not okay, and they stopped doing it. Or, to quote someone on Metafilter: "Big company does something any sane, thinking person would automatically know is immoral. Film at 11."
http://www.nokiasiemensnetworks.com/news-events/press-room/c... (this is their mea culpa, it almost sounds like they learned a lesson, except that it took over 2 years and a human rights lawyer before they stopped helping oppressive regimes with human rights abuse)
IBM - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_and_the_Holocaust#IBM_busin...
Apple — FoxConn
Disney - The allegations of Walt Disney's pedophillia.
And so on.
My point is, it can be very hard to avoid all companies on ethics alone.
And your point is fair, both the first one, the clarification and shinratdr's rewording :) (except I'd kinda steer clear of things that are merely "alleged"--but I don't know anything about the Disney case)
And indeed I don't really know about avoiding all of them, however I do believe it's important to spread word about it, so that people know, and corporations know they can't get away with everything, and hopefully cause at least some corporations to do right.
Clearly this is not remotely as horrific as the usual connotations, but the structure of bait-and-switch coercion is very similar.
Why would it benefit Samsung to have random Indians bloggers demoing devices in Berlin?
Something about this story doesn't make any sense.
"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."
Even if the bloggers had agreed to work for Samsung, and then changed their mind, holding return tickets ransom would not have been an acceptable course of action.
There is no way that this is explained by stupidity, this is malice in its purest form.
I'd say Negitivefrags's guess is good. Something like that might have happened, and then when the bloggers didn't co-operate with the misinformed boss, the nasty stuff started.
"If they're not going to help us promote the brand, why should we pay for their plane ticket? They can just buy their own"
...without considering that the bloggers might not be as flush with cash as they are in their corporate world with expense accounts.
But I'm sorry, threatening to leave a blogger (and then carrying this out!) with little money stranded in Germany is most certainly malicious!
Unfortunately, the bloggers were not told about the nature of the program and thought it is entirely different thing where the company invites independent journalists to write about their product. It totally makes sense to me that two branches of marketing don't communicate properly and get vastly different ideas about what the program is and then poor bloggers left at the whim of erratic and not very smart petty manager that threatens them when things not go as planned. For me, this madness totally makes sense in a general way things don't make sense in big companies.
That's not just "wearing samsung t-shirt". That's not what bloggers do.
P. S. I think that if you chose to piss off some people, then bloggers, whose main visible activity is conveying their thoughts to general public, is one of the least smart targets available.
Officially they were invited to live the games from the inside but in the end they worked as Samsung publicist for free.
> As a Cheil member, I want to express my deeply sorry to make you feel that way. We’ll try to do our best not to make any inconvenience around this matter. And I promise that your comments will be reflected to upgrade and elaborate our Moilers program. I hope you to keep in touch with us and show your opinion at any time. Whatever it is, it will be welcomed
>Cheil Worldwide Inc., is a global marketing and communications company headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. It is South Korea's largest advertising agency and was ranked 16th in the world by Advertising Age in 2006... Internationally, Cheil has carried out communications campaigns for Samsung Electronics, including the “Imagine” branding campaign spanning 80 countries. It also provides marketing support for Samsung’s role as a Worldwide Olympic Partner
Overaggressive third party marketing company? I wonder how Samsung will respond to this article and other feedback.
No guarantee that they would deal with the issue promptly, of course, but some kind of threat or formal inquiry to whoever was in charge at Samsung probably would have made them back down.
I've never experienced as much pressure as described here, but i guess the Indian Samsung subsidiary is managed by different minded people.
It was clearly just a communication problem. Samsung expects you to do things at these events and you get your trip and stay for free in return, sometimes a little cash on top.
Noone wants to use the word work, for all the red tape this would create...
Legal? - possibly. Ethical? - not to me. How is this not evasion of labor laws? That this is par-for-the-course is pretty dismaying.
It can be a lot of fun if you know what you're signing up for.
This should be EXPLICIT from the beginning
"It's targeted toward students that are tech-savvy"
Newsflash Samsung, Bloggers != 'tech-savvy students'. It may overlap, but don't count on it
Surely Samsung aren't doing this for the work -- there have to be cheaper ways to get people to demo your product than flying folks from India to Germany, getting them uniforms, keeping close watch on their activities, daily update emails in the beginning, etc.?
Why not just have their own employees do it? Or just pay native German bloggers?
It sounds to me like Samsung was trying to buy enthusiasm, but failed to adequately communicate the work involved and then massively overreacted when it went wrong for them. With decent management, it could have been better the alternatives -- the 'booth-babe and slimy salesman' or 'bored employee droning through a script' approaches.
I still prefer Apple's approaches to product demonstration -- either a big on-stage demo followed by relatively unsupervised hands-on time for a large number of reporters at once, or a personal demo by a senior executive for certain lucky individuals.
I like The Verge's ethics statement, which they post publicly, for this reason.
"We do not allow trips or any portions of trips (including but not limited to airfare, hotel, or car rentals) to be paid for by third parties (these are known in the industry as 'junkets')."
They make expectations for readers and device-makers crystal clear.
Every third establishment licking journalist is sleeping with some high level Democratic or Republican functionary or a Goldman VP. I wouldn't be surprised if tech turned out to be similar.
Only if the word "independent" has decided to become a synonym for 'sassy' and leave behind the boring 'disentangled.'
There can be a big gap between a handy freebie and a conflict of interest, and the trick is to operate in that space without stepping over the lines. It's just another part of the professional journalist's job and skillset.
Edited to add: That gap I spoke about above; that's nothing to do with this ongoing Samsung thing, which certainly falls well outside the lines any pro journalist would draw. But then I don't think Samsung's programme is intended for pro journalists...
"Professional journalist" means you get paid enough money to conduct independent journalism without compensation from the subject of your research. It also means that even relationships which could appear to be conflicts of interest (such as receiving early samples, letting them buy you lunch) are fully disclosed to avoid even the appearance of such.
I love Korea, but I avoid doing business in Korea because of this type of tomfoolery.
That hostage-passport can only hold if there is something else going on, like working without a permit (when the workers know their status and fear the punishment if they go to the embassy).
In the old days (a few years ago,) you couldn't even leave the country unless your employer released you from your visa. Trying to exit without a visa can get you detained an heavily fined. So keeping your passport has the practical effect of keeping you stranded because you can't get a replacement visa for the new passport without the employer's permission. Korean immigration is a mess.
I'll explain anyway: Many countries have some sort of passport control both when you enter and when you leave the country. The reasons for this are varied, but a common one is to make sure you didn't overstay your visa. As a result, you need to have a valid visa attached to your passport to pass through passportcontrol to exit the country. It is almost never sufficient to have been issued a visa to pass through passport control. You almost always need the one physical piece of paper that is the physical manifestation of the visa.
If your employer has your passport, they also have the visa which was stapled to it. Your embassy can easily get you a replacement passport, but a replacement visa is up to the host country.
Your two options to leave are:
1) Ask your former employer for your passport and visa.
2) Go through some (or a lot, to judge from the other comments) bureaucracy to get a new visa.
Yes, I lost all my visa/entry stamps.... and yes, that can be a problem - but the fact is, a nation is unlikely to hold you hostage and create a diplomatic incident because your passport has been stolen.
Also you might actually want to stay and work in the country, and kicking up a fuss over a 'stolen' passport is a sure fire way to get your visa canceled.
If you're going to invoke racism and judge an entire nation's business practices, you could at least take the care to put together an argument that almost makes sense.
The article makes it clear that these bloggers dealt with Samsung's India subsidiary.
It seems it would be much easier to find people who are willing to be brand ambassadors and be up front about it if that's what you are looking for.
The whole story is entirely one-sided and to be honest if it sounds too crazy to be true, I suspect it probably is too crazy to be true.
If you're a tiny startup, your internal communication lines and org chart are small and simple enough that everybody is usually on the same page.
But if you're a huge company like Samsung, it's very easy to have situations where the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing. That may well be what happened here.
Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.
Having been forced to use this monstrosity to get files onto a Galaxy Tab, I don't see _where_ you get the idea that you're talking about a rational company.
How does this "raise larger concerns" about these blogs? It seems like the blogger here has gone out of his way to ensure that his impartiality isn't challenged.
This sort of behavior - from Samsung or otherwise - is despicable. They need to be held to full account for this sort of fraud.
I am in no sane mind defending Samsung or any of it's actions. I just want to take this incident to pause & introspect over the ongoings in the technology review industry.
"Integrity — we've heard of it."
I think we can safely say that that document is somewhat tongue in cheek.
Of course, I only know the behavior of aforementioned services from my 'friends'.
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.
via - http://asia.cnet.com/should-samsung-have-stranded-a-blogger-...
That's not a "misunderstanding between the coordinator and the blogger", that is your coordinator fucking up.
I can't believe that a company still thinks that "we regret there was a misunderstanding" is any sort of apology when you should have said "we regret we made this mistake and apologize", trying to pin it on the blogger, damn...
(actually, given that it's three days without a reply, that pretty much rules out "troll", by the definition that I've come to know and love)
While this may or may not be a coincidence, my reaction is so negative by default because recently there have been a lot of single-purpose accounts that seem to exist only for one thread before they're being abandoned. They are usually employed to troll, to attack someone personally, to post or promote blog spam, or to shill for something. In fact, it has gotten so bad I can usually tell by the post's content and style whether this person is engaging in a quick hit-and-run or if they intent to stay around. I believe we're still putting too much weight on "green" accounts. Maybe their posts should be gray by default.
I might have come up with a false positive in this case, but there is no evidence to support that yet.
That said, this is exactly what happens when, as a journalist, you start to blur the lines. As a reader it's hard to feel any sympathy when reading paragraphs that try just a bit too hard to rationalize the behavior:
Again, a reminder – Behavior such as Samsung’s is not uncommon in the world of tech coverage. It’s perhaps considered more normal in some parts of the world
Not to mention your remark about being stranded in Berlin not being so bad.
I don't think that ever really worked out.
Ethical companies understand that and accept the risk anyway, because getting good journalists with reach to even think of your brand and see your devices in the metal in the right circumstances is much more difficult than you'd think. So they put aside a relatively minuscule part of their marketing budget to wine, dine & sometimes fly journalists to these events.
If you look for it, you can often see this being disclosed by the relevant journalist at the end of their article, depending on their publication's ethics rules. For instance NYT journalists like Mossberg and Pogue will mention when a new Apple gizmo they're reviewing was shown to them personally by Apple before the public unveiling.
I have insight into this because a number of my friends are journalists across a few different industries. One in particular (not in the tech industry) was just recently flown to an event in Europe along similar lines, with the only requirement being that he was asked to attend all the particular company's press briefings there in return.
Samsung's behaviour in this case is unethical, to blame the bloggers for any of this when it's clear that they did their best to clarify the arrangement is unfair.
Thats not the modus operandi nowadays. Good old prussian censors have proven ineffective; they cause too much political fallout and instability for what they can offer. Instead, you hire PR people to spin a story. You stop inviting journalists that write critically of you to events. You stop giving them interviews. You don't give them leads on stories that could benefit you when published. You don't give them the infamous "well informed insider" quotes.
But a journalists' livelihood is directly connected to his ability to write interesting news and reports.
In some places where politics and journalism are (physically) so close and dense, like Berlin, you eventually realize that you have to keep a healthy social relationship with the very people you are supposed to investigate, simply to keep, to do your job.
How do some papers get a reputation for being left leaning (or right, or environmental, or..)? No one puts bias in writing. Journalists just already know what is expected of them. Self-censorship.
(Sorry, this has slipped into some kind of rant. I'm just not very interested in the "look what Samsung did" brouhaha, but the forces at work here)
If the allegations are true, Samsung acted reprehensibly but these guys were naive.
on the one hand, being subtly 'encouraged' to write favorable blog posts or reviews via enjoyable junkets, and
on the other hand, being expected to act as a real part of the PR team, wear company-branded clothing, and film promotional videos.
One is normal practice in tech journalism. The other is something quite different, and more aggressive. It seems like the bloggers expected the former - not especially naively - and got the latter via pressure and bait-and-switch.
And Berlin is a fabulous city to get stranded in. It's not like it was Slough (UK) or Detroit (USA) or Grozny (RU)...
Right. I suppose Samsung could have dropped them off in the middle of the Atlantic during a major storm without even a liferaft.
In other words: Is that really the conversational tactic you want to apply here?