Ellen's Oscar Selfie Raises $1.5 Million for Humane Society | Beth's Blog

Ellen’s Oscar Selfie Raises $1.5 Million for Humane Society


If you watched the Academy Awards, you know that Oscars’ host, Ellen DeGeneres, kept pulling out her Samsung Galaxy Note 3 during the show.  She managed to gather a bunch of celebrities, including Angelina Jolie, Bradley Cooper, Kevin Spacey, Jared Leto, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Lupita Nyong’o and Brad Pitt for a selfie that made the history books as the most retweeted tweet.     According to Mashable which detailed the numbers in this post, with over 3.2 million RTs.

This was not a product placement promotion but an “unselfie.”   On her post-Oscar live episode of “The Ellen Degeneres Show” on Monday (March 3), Ellen shared that Samsung was, in fact, donating $3 million to charity since they’d gotten so much exposure at the Oscars.  Ellen will divide up the money between St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and Humane Society of the United States. I tracked down Carie Lewis Carlson, Deputy Director, Online Communications for the Humane Society of the United States to learn a little bit more about Ellen’s generosity.


Carie explains, “Ellen has been a longtime supporter of The Humane Society of the United States.  We are going to divide her donation among three of our programs: Pets for Life, the Shelter Pet Project and our Animal Rescue Team.”  The Humane Society staff had no advanced warning of this gift when Ellen announced the donation on her TV show on Monday. Carie says her staff started hearing about the donation on Twitter and used Twitter search to track down the source.  Ellen announced it on her show.

Carie says they wanted to thank Ellen and Samsung in a public way so they created an “animal selfie.”   Says Carie,  “We talked about the possibility of making this a list acquisition campaign, but I wanted to go the fun/buzz route with this instead. I was worried that the concept would lose its coolness/shareable factor if we tried to over-brand it.” Carrie says they wanted to be careful about asking too much of their fans because they deal with some serious subjects like animal cruelty and this was a way to incorporate the “celebrate animals” part of their mission.

As soon as the Humane Society got word of the gift via Twitter, they tweeted a thank you since people were buzzing about it already on Twitter.   Says, Carie, “We felt we needed to say something so that it didn’t look like we were in the dark.”   Next the CEO of the Humane Society wrote about it on his blog so that they could explain how the money would be spent.    Carrie says, “We wanted to do something fun to let our social media communities know about the great news and publicly acknowledge Samsung and Ellen. So we had the staff at our animal sanctuaries stage “selfies” of the animals and we put them all together in one photo that mirrored Ellen’s Oscar selfie.”


According to Carie, the post is resonating well on social media channels and being shared.   Carie hopes this generates positive sentiment about their brand online by the public thank you as well as generate media coverage of the donation. Carie says there are some follow up posts planned that will showcase how the money is supporting their mission.


And did Carie, an old social media dog, learn any new tricks?  Yes she did!   “Its so important to jump on these rare opportunities when they arise and capitalize on what people are talking about, especially with current events and pop culture. We could have just said thank you but we wanted to get creative and create something that was shareable for our fans to share in the excitement of this big news, as well as potentially strengthen the relationship with Ellen and Samsung.”


14 Responses

  1. Thanks Beth for the great writeup! Even though you called me an old dog 😉

  2. This is product placement 21st century-style. Samsung paid Humane Society a fee of $1.5M for the privilege of making a public donation to them via host Ellen DeGeneres. Was it planned that way? Who knows. But the impact was the same as intended product placement, and seems to have been equally effective and certainly more authentic. Super big kudos to Humane Society for savvy and timely marketing opportunism. Love you guys!

  3. […] entrevista para Beth Kanter, em seu blog, a diretora de Comunicação Online da Humane Society, Carrie Lewis Carlson explica […]

  4. […] Em entrevista para Beth Kanter, em seu blog, a diretora de Comunicação Online da Humane Society, Carrie Lewis Carlson explica que a Ellen é uma defensora de longa data da causa e que se surpreendeu com o comunicado já que ficou sabendo da doação apenas quando a notícia foi anunciada no programa de TV. […]

  5. Jane leonard says:

    Great write up. I think it is great that Ellen shared the money between both charities.

    Some valuable lessons here for not for profits.

  6. […] Did you watch the Oscars on Sunday? Ellen’s selfie with the likes of Brad Pitt, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, and Kevin Spacey may have seemed silly at the time, but Samsung has donated $3 million to charity as a result of the exposure. See the clever way that the HSUS, one of the recipients, responded with a selfie of their own. […]

  7. […] the importance of using social media to spread news and information in nonprofit organizations. An article from Beth’s Blog gave a good example of an organization using social media to capitalize on a […]

  8. Philip Ogola says:

    Very inspiring that Social Media is now used for good

  9. Beth says:

    Thank you so much Philip. ..

  10. Beth says:

    Carie: I couldn’t resist – you’re an old dog in Internet years but you are still always young!!

  11. Carie, you are a part of the trendsetting old guard. You are what other people seek to emulate. Great work on making it happen for HSUS.

  12. Nolan says:

    This is real power of fundraising, when everyone works together. Hats off to Ellen…

  13. […] Beth’s Blog, there was an interesting article called Ellen’s Oscar Selfie Raises $1.5 million for Humane Society. If you watched the Academy Awards a couple weeks ago, as Beth writes, you know that this years […]