Update: Samsung has denied the report, claiming that all invitees were “formally invited to the Shanghai Culture Square where the event took place.”
Samsung is trying to match the iPhone 6 in every way with the launch on the Galaxy S6. That includes pre-launch hype with over 1,000 people at events clamoring for a look at the new flagship phone, but in Samsung’s case, it has to pay for fans to show up.
Over 500 fake fans were paid to attend Samsung’s launch event for the Galaxy S6 in China on Friday. The total attendance reached around 1,000, but with the meager $4.80 Samsung shelled out to anyone under who looked like a student under 30, and could sit through one hour of the keynote.
According to a Samsung recruiter who spoke to WantChinaTimes, the smartphone company has hired several groups of 20 to 30 people to be its professional fans. Recruiters were paid $3.20 for each person they got to attend, with one recruiter telling the news outlet that he signed up 100 fake fans.
Samsung told its army of fake fans to tell the press they were at the event because they were interested in Samsung’s new phones. In reality, half of the people at the event were taking pictures of the Galaxy S6 on an iPhone.
To get paid for going to the event, each hired person was required to post their picture, name, and phone number on WeChat, as well as like the Samsung Galaxy Baidu page. Samsung has seen its marketshare slip in China recently thanks to the strength of the iPhone. A recent report from Kantar revealed iPhone marketshare in China is at an all time high.