Samsung has recently taken a couple of men from India hostage, flying them to Berlin on the premise that the bloggers could independently report on their new product releases, but instead bullying them into dressing up in Samsung uniforms and representing the products to customers — if they wanted their tickets home.
The story, that was covered in detail on The Next Web, regards Clinton Jeff, blogger of Unleash the Phones, and a second blogger who preferred to remain anonymous. Though Samsung agreed with them that they didn’t have to promote Samsung’s products, only report on them, the expectations changed once the men were in Berlin.
Samsung asked them for their clothing measurements, though it was uncertain why.
“What? A uniform? A quick call to Samsung India to find out what was going on. Oh its just for a closed door event? No proper answer, I sent my sizes wondering what was going on,” said Jeff.
The mystery was explained once they arrived at the hotel. “As soon as we stepped in, there was a Samsung Mobilers booth waiting for us. 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 uniform fitting,” Jeff explained.
Samsung’s plan was to have them show up at 8 a.m., sign an NDA, and prep themselves in uniform, to work “every day. Showing the products to members of the press.”
“This was really a shocker,” said Jeff. “For a month before departure we were continuously reminded that we were being sent to IFA to cover the launch of the Note 2, every little detail was taken care of and we were even updated on a daily basis with the situation of the stays, tickets, etc.”
Regarding the tickets, they were promptly refused when the bloggers refused to promote Samsung, being, as they’d said all along, independent reporters.
“We got a call from Samsung India saying ‘You 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…’
“A few minutes later, we got a call from the Samsung India guy who said that our flights on the 6th have been cancelled, and that they’re bringing us back on the 1st instead,” meaning they’d miss the event and have nothing to report on. “But this is only if, and only if, we agree to wear at least the Samsung branded shirt at the unpacked event, and not blog about any of this incident.
“None of this should leave Berlin. Or reach India,” Jeff reported.
In the end, another company, Nokia, bailed them out, paying their expenses and for their tickets back home. Samsung, meanwhile, wrote an apology characterizing the events as a “misunderstanding.” They also apologized to Jeff.