December 28, 2006

Microsoft bodges Vista promo to bloggers

by Brian Turner

Microsoft Windows

Microsoft sent bloggers a laptop installed with Vista for Christmas – now these bloggers are outraged to find they are being asked to get rid of them.

The ruckus was caused by a marketing promotion partnered by Microsoft and AMD, and managed by PR firm Edelman, which saw prominent bloggers provided with free Acer Ferrari 1000 laptops.

Bloggers sent the 12.1 inch laptop included Scott Beale, Barbara Bowman, Brandon LeBlanc, Mauricio Freitas at Geekzone, Mitch Denny, and others.

They also reported they were sent a note “from Loki”, which identified the gifts as part of Microsoft’s Vanishing Point Game – a viral marketing campaign intended to promote Microsoft Vista.

However, a comment by Aaron Coldiron, from the Vista development team, stated that these were review copies only, and that these should be returned or given away, rather than kept.

The suggestion was that this was made clear to the bloggers – but the bloggers disagree, and report that no such statement or request came with their gifts.

The result is that a high-flying promotions campaign is fast turning into a public relations disaster.

The bloggers who received the gifts are being perceived to be taking bribes to post positive reviews – something ex-Microsoft employee Robert Scoble also made clear at first.

The bloggers are also angry that they felt improperly informed about the purpose of the gifts, especially that they are now no longer part of a viral marketing campaign, but instead simply “reviewers” with no brief on disclosure.

The overall effect is that the marketing campaign has backfired quite badly.

Additionally, it has also raised an important case study for marketers on the issue of sending free gifts to bloggers for promotional purposes.

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Story link: Microsoft bodges Vista promo to bloggers

 

4 Responses to “Microsoft bodges Vista promo to bloggers”

  1. Mitch Denny on December 28th, 2006 10:19 am

    Hi Brian,

    I am one of the bloggers concerned and I’ve just heard that I will need to give the laptop away. I’m not really outraged, more disappointed since I had promised the laptop to my wife (I already have two laptops running Vista Ultimate and Office 2007).

    I think this has all be blown out of proportion and I think that most rational people don’t see a problem with it, I think that it just generated so much buzz that the idiot fringe started flaming people on their blogs.

  2. Brian Turner on December 28th, 2006 10:31 am

    Hi Mitch, and thanks for the comment – I think the point of it all being blown out of proportion is certainly right – it could have been a really good idea.

    I think what’s most unfortunate here is that Edelman could have better managed communications – the comments from Aaron Coldiron seem to be what has really upset the cart most in all this.

  3. Callie on December 28th, 2006 11:39 am

    Mitch and co: welcome to the _real_ world of journalism, and the world of your mainstream peers, where there are factors such as ethics and appropriate professional behavior.

    Almost no tech journalist (and certainly no decent one on a reputable publication) is given a notebook for review as a ‘keeper’. It’s sent for a short period, maybe 2-4 weeks, and then returned. You’re lucky that you have the option to give yours away to readers.

    Bloggers HAVE to start observing the same codes of ethics and professional conduct as the ‘mainstream media’ which they take equal pleasure in deriding and then claiming to be on an equal professional footing with.

  4. Blake Handler on December 29th, 2006 6:02 am

    Since I’m a recipient of a Ferrari 5000 from Acer, I’m obviously biased towards Microsoft’s motives. I personally began blogging on Microsoft technologies to refrain from sending my clients too many emails – or emails that were not pertinent to them at the time.

    I’m not a “journalist” – but even professional IT consultants have “ethics” too. I could not be successful without telling the truth, being fair, doing my own research, verifying my research, and creating original content.

    As a Microsoft consultant it’s my job to be familiar with technology BEFORE my client sees it. Or more importantly, BEFORE they have a problem with it!

    My TechNet subscription provided me access to the betas of Windows Vista (along with the many incremental upgrades). For almost two years, I’ve participated and provided feedback in Windows Vista forums, webcasts, training and labs.

    I’m pleased and humbled that my blog is “popular” beyond the people that I personally support. Microsoft named me MVP for providing technical assistance beyond my normal professional responsibilities. Being provided an evaluation computer from Acer is not a “bribe” – it simply allows me to accelerate my evaluations, documentation and demonstrations of Windows Vista.

    Blake Handler
    http://bhandler.spaces.live.com

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