The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge have been released to great fanfare, but it seems Samsung was not entirely confident that Chinese consumers would attend its launch event. It is alleged that in order to make sure a sufficient number of people were present, Samsung paid 500 people to attend the event, writes Carly Page for The Inquirer.
Allegations arise in Chinese report
Chinese website The Paper is the source of the story, which claims that the majority of paid attendees were iPhone users. A supposed recruiter of the fake fans told The Paper that he arranged for over 100 people to attend the event, paying them ¥20 ($3.22) in return for their presence for over an hour.
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Another woman, who was hired directly by Samsung, told Chinese media that the company gave her ¥50 ($8.06) for 15 minutes of her time. According to other recruiters, as well as Samsung itself, paid another 400 people to attend the Galaxy S6 launch. All told, the “fans” made up around half of the approximate 1,000 attendees of the event.
The Paper claims that participants were instructed to inform reporters that they were interested in the new Samsung phones, as well as posting their photo, name and phone number on WeChat, a popular messaging platform. Their third task was to “like” the Samsung Galaxy page on Baidu, a Chinese social network.
Samsung versus Apple in China
Despite the relatively detailed instructions, Samsung may have left off one important point: do not be seen carrying an iPhone. Around half of the paid attendees could allegedly be seen taking photos of the new Samsung phones using devices manufactured by arch-rival Apple.
The company has so far not commented on the story, but its actions could have been motivated by its struggles in the Chinese market. Samsung market share is decreasing due to the increasing popularity of the iPhone. According to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, iPhone sales in China reached a new high between December 2014 and February 2015, during which time Apple accounted for 27.6% of the market.
Samsung has form for questionable promotional behavior, having been forced to pay a $340,000 fine in 2013 after posting fake negative comments about Taiwanese rival HTC online.