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Behind the Work in association withThe Immortal Awards
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How Samsung Bid Farewell to the Selfie with Bold Campaign from CHEP

10/07/2024
Advertising Agency
Melbourne, Australia
275
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CHEP group creative director Kirsty Gavin speaks to LBB’s Tom Loudon about the selfie’s obituary, Renaissance aesthetics, and the cultural impact of Samsung's hands-free camera mode
Samsung's foldable smartphone features a hands-free camera mode that heralds the end of the traditional selfie, according to CHEP.

They were so confident, in fact, that they commemorated the death of the selfie with a touching obituary in Vogue Magazine.

The campaign's standout image, evoking a Renaissance painting with real tears from a model and flowers sourced by group creative director Kirsty Gavin aimed to set Samsung apart from competitors by emphasising cultural impact over technical specifications.

The campaign blends modern technology with Renaissance painting aesthetics, humanising the loss of the selfie with a touch of parody.

Speaking to LBB, Kirsty Gavin broke down the humorous yet poignant obituary, the intricate collaboration with photographer Simon Harsent and casting director Toni Higginbotham, and the cultural statement made by the hands-free camera mode.


LBB> What inspired the creation of an obituary to mark the end of the selfie era for Samsung's foldable smartphone campaign?


Kirsty> Our idea was to farewell a cultural icon. 

Selfies have saturated social life for decades. The in-frame outstretched arm, cropped foreheads, blurred faces, and inverted depth of field - Samsung’s new tech makes all this redundant and shifts behaviour. It’s hyperbolic to feel grief over the death of a selfie, but we enjoyed the parody. 

From a composition point of view, we humanised the loss via portraiture and riffed off a perfunctory obit found in the newspaper, appropriating the writing style and typesetting.


LBB> How did you come up with the concept of blending modern technology with a Renaissance painting aesthetic in the campaign visuals?


Kirsty> There is beauty in sadness regardless of irony.

We wanted to depict death and loss visually, so we dove into darkness from a reference point of view. The Renaissance’s blend of religious devotion and artistic innovation inspired the tension between past and present. In the same way, we appropriated the copy; there is a visual appropriation going on. Ultimately, we balanced classicism and modernity and created a painterly photograph.

Once we landed the idea, this became a real craft piece. The lighting was taken from a specific Renaissance painting where the central subject is softly lit, as the periphery fades to low-detail shadows. Our talents' hair cued Botticelli, the floral textured background and other styling pulled from Raphael. The harder we went on all this stuff, the more it made us smile and say farewell to the selfie. How absurd, yet end-of-an-era.


LBB> Can you explain the significance of the hands-free camera mode in Samsung’s new foldable smartphone and how it led to the concept of the "death of the selfie"?


Kirsty> Hands-free selfie mode (standing back and waving at the phone to take your shot) negates the behaviour of holding the camera out to take a selfie. That outstretched arm that I was talking about before is iconic, and the photos taken that way define a moment in time, and that moment in time was enduring but also quite incidental. 

That’s the thing about culture - it doesn’t have to be elitist or in your face.  Acknowledging the death of something iconic daily is a nice timeline dot.


LBB> What was the process like working with photographer Simon Harsent and casting director Toni Higginbotham to bring this vision to life?


Kirsty> Simon was brought into the project early on, and we worked meticulously on all the aforementioned craft notes. We were heavily aligned on the inspiration and how it would inform every element of the composition. Simon wanted to reimagine one of Botecelli’s portraits. We wanted it moody and washed with grief to juxtapose the humour and lean into our made-up word, funeral-esque.  

When referencing the Renaissance and Raphael, you tend to wonder how far is too much. And then we collectively decided to go there anyway. 

Again, from a casting perspective, we looked back to go forward. Tatyana is straight out of Birth of Venus. She could cry on cue. She sobbed endlessly for an entire day, and it shows in the work. This might be a conscious bias of my own, but I can’t unsee it.


LBB> In what ways does this campaign set Samsung apart from competitors who focus primarily on technical features and specifications?


Kirsty> We’ve all seen decorated product demonstrations. Many of them are considered efficient, sometimes entertaining, and consistently literal. We didn’t want to do any of that. 

A brand in Vogue announced a culture shift due to one of its product features, which has nothing to do with the competition. We landed on an idea and execution that felt out of category, and tonally unexpected. 


LBB> What impact do you hope the obituary in Vogue Magazine will have on readers and potential Samsung customers?


Kirsty> Death of a Selfie is an unserious commentary, a cultural PSA. The ‘you heard it here first’ approach not only belonged in the pages of Vogue but also helped launch the first volume of Mz Vogue. The work is for readers who see tech as an accessory and cultural shifts as leading headlines—and for those who can crack a smile along the way.

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