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Ken Magill

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Lamest. Product Line. Ever: Explained


By Ken Magill

Since the folks in marketing at Microsoft apparently have zero capacity for shame, it’s time for the rest of us to feel embarrassed for them.

The geniuses behind the “Scroogled” campaign—the effort to turn consumers against Google by demonizing its use of consumer data for behaviorally targeted advertising—have launched a line of lame, Scroogled-logoed products.

The products are another piece of a campaign using tactics that make little sense until you know who is probably behind it.

The new line includes a hat, T-shirts, a hoodie and a coffee mug.

“A classic that shows the world that you’re tired of having your digital life monetized by Google,” says sales copy under one of the T-shirts.

Of course given its position against Google, Microsoft would never engage in online tracking right? Let’s check their privacy policy just to make sure.

Okay, here’s a part that looks interesting:

Targeted Advertising When we display online advertisements to you, we will place one or more persistent cookies on your device in order to recognize your device each time we display an ad to you. Because we serve advertisements on our own web sites as well as those of our advertising and publisher partners, we are able to compile information over time about the types of pages, content and ads you, or others who are using your computer, visited or viewed. This information is used for many purposes, for example, it helps us try to ensure that you do not see the same advertisements over and over again. We also use this information to help select and display targeted advertisements that we believe may be of interest to you.”

Wait. What?

So when people’s clicks and views get tracked by Google for advertising purposes it’s called getting Scroogled. What’s it called when Microsoft does it? Getting Microf#cked?

Now there’s a campaign slogan.

As reported in Wired, the Scroogled idiocy started just after Microsoft hired Mark Penn, “a notoriously pugnacious political strategist who worked for both Bill and Hillary Clinton.”

Penn was the chief strategist for Hillary’s failed 2008 presidential campaign.

In a piece on in April, Alex Pareene wrote: “The question for someone considering whether or not to support Clinton in 2016 is, will a Clinton 2016 campaign pass the Mark Penn Test? The Mark Penn Test, which I just invented, determines whether or not a person should be trusted with the presidency, based solely on one criterion: Whether or not they pay Mark Penn to do anything for their campaign. Paying Mark Penn means you’ve failed the Mark Penn Test.”

Microsoft has apparently failed the Mark Penn test.

Pareene continued: “Mark Penn is a pollster and political strategist and amoral P.R. creature who is generally wrong about everything. To find out how incompetent Mark Penn is at campaign strategy and how personally toxic he is in a campaign working environment go to your local library and check out literally any book about the 2008 presidential race. … In short, he had no clue how the primaries actually worked and constantly pushed for the campaign to go as nasty and negative as possible, and everyone hated him and he was bad at his job and eventually he was fired.”

Except for the lack of bumper stickers, the Scroogled campaign sure has all the hallmarks of having been cooked up by a political hack.

According to Penn’s executive bio on “Mark Penn is executive vice president of the Advertising and Strategy group, responsible for Microsoft’s global advertising and marketing strategy. He also oversees a multidisciplinary SWAT team that deals with a range of projects involving marketing, media and compete. [And compete? What the hell does that even mean?] His group’s goals include creating world-class advertising and messaging to consumers and business customers delivered through the most cost-effective and scientific means available.”

Scientific? From here it sure looks like Penn simply whipped out his dog-eared, attack-attack-attack political playbook and applied it to his new employer.

It didn’t work for Hillary Clinton. And implemented for Microsoft, it has become cringe worthy.


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