Who’s Really Getting Scroogled?

Microsoft launched a massive marketing campaign in October around Windows 8, Surface, and the Windows Phone. Since then consumers seem to be saturated with Microsoft advertisement with television, print, transit, billboards, online, and event sponsorships (O’Reilly, 2012). According to Forbes, Microsoft’s global marketing campaign around Windows 8 is estimated to cost $1.5 to $1.8 Billion (Einstein, 2012). The campaign has been a breath of fresh air for Microsoft with its use of upbeat music, vibrant colors, creative placement, and hot celebrities.

surfaceads_large_verge_medium_landscapeDuring this same timeline Microsoft has promoted Bing, the Microsoft search engine and rival to Google. In hopes to enlighten internet search users, Microsoft launched “Scroogled” a blatant attack against Google and their results criteria. These ads have a far different feel from the fun “Windows Reimagined” campaign that seemingly surrounds us. As I drove from San Francisco to Mountain View this week I encountered a “Scroogled” ad on a digital billboard while passing through Palo Alto. With the bright red flashing text and negative tone I couldn’t help but feel slightly negative towards Microsoft. Maybe it was the abrasive flashing while I was driving or the obvious attack strategy on another tech company, something didn’t sit right.

This week Microsoft also launched Outlook.com and revived the anti-Google campaign with new messaging again Gmail. Microsoft has taken a slightly less abrasive approach with their Valentines cartoon commercial but the political like strategy is still present.020713_ScroogledHP

Scroogled TV Commercials
“Negative ads, as much as politicians might decry them, can have a devastating effect when deployed in a tight race, like last year’s Iowa Republican primary. Perhaps with this in mind, Microsoft hired ex-Clintonite Mark Penn, who pioneered the practice of micro-targeting ads based on consumer behavior, to work his black magic on Google. Penn, however, seems to not have recognized that there are some fundamental differences between consumer product battles and political campaigns, and mistaking one for the other can render them almost completely ineffective” (Depillis, 2013).

Microsoft has a great things going with the strategy and direction of their “Windows Reimagined” campaign. It’s debatable whether the Google attack marketing will convert users and generate loyalty to Microsoft products. I can’t help but feel this is not a great move for their integrated strategy or a direction I’d support for tech marketing.

-Erin Spaulding, 514 (A) Integrated Marketing, USC Annenberg

(*Posted with Sheila’s account)

Einstein, D. (2012, October 11). Microsoft betting big on cloud with windows 8 and tablets. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/netapp/2012/10/11/windows-8-release-date-tablet-microsoft-cloud/

Depillis, L. (2013, February 15). Microsoft’s Mark Penn mistake the tech giant is treating Google like a political rival. New Republic. Retrieved from http://www.newrepublic.com/article/112421/microsofts-scroogle-ads-and-mark-penn

O’Reilly, L. (2012, October 24). Microsoft unveils global windows 8 campaign. Marketing Week. Retrieved from http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/news/microsoft-unveils-global-windows-8-campaign/4004443.article

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7 Responses to Who’s Really Getting Scroogled?

  1. kcn13 says:

    Hi Erin,

    I am reporting back that I got “Scroogled” and I liked it (I think!) Just last night I was watching Hulu and saw the commercial for Outlook.com which was quite timely in correlation to your post, which lead me to a few different reactions.

    As a consumer I do think that Google’s targeting can feel like an invasion of privacy but at the same time consumers would be naive to think that every other online/social media site/tool isn’t doing the same. There isn’t much that is different from how Facebook ads are usually a derivative of something I commented on or looked-up. So getting “Scroogled” doesn’t really bother me or deter my use of Google. So I don’t think I am in their target market for the campaign, the message didn’t give me an overwhelming desire to delete my Google account.

    Which brings me to my second reaction, as a marketer I think this helps us to better engage with a direct target. Information to help improve a campaign makes my life as a marketer a little bit easier.

    But when all is said and done, I do agree with you that the mud slinging approach to marketing that Microsoft seems to be using for the “Scroogled” campaign feels a lot like dirty political campaigning. I also agree that it takes a bit of integrity away from the Microsoft brand for me, so I am not a fan of the actual campaign.

    Thanks for making me think through this new campaign! Very interesting, indeed.

    -Kristy Junio (CMGT541-C)

    • erin_spaulding says:

      Hi Kristy,

      You make a couple great points! Some users of Google don’t mind getting “scroogled” with targeted marketing. I conducted an impromptu poll of my coworkers today and many said not only do they not mind the targeted ads, they actually appreciate them. One coworker shared that she was researching gifts for her husband but had not made a purchase for a day or two when she saw an ad that reminded her to follow through with the purchase. She was actually thankful for the reminder through the ad!

      You mention being compelled enough to delete your email account. I think that is a great point. Email users are going to need a very compelling reason and in multiple forms in order to delete an invested account. Recently I heard a comment about Hotmail user, which I am one, and how the person couldn’t imagine anyone using Hotmail anymore. I can imagine there are a lot of people like me that have not switched email account because of the work involved in building up a new account.

      Great point about marketers wanting to use the information. I agree! I think our future as marketers is one with extreme amounts of data and abilities to target. We already have the ability to know so much about consumers and that trend will grow exponentially.

      Thanks for the response!

  2. melindamenchaca says:

    I was listening to Slacker radio today and saw an ad for this on my iPod. I had no idea what it was so I’m glad you cleared it up for me. I am a big time Google fan and super loyal to the site. I don’t like when companies attack each other or politicians for that matter. I feel that if your product is good then it will speak for itself. I have a feeling this “Scrgoogled” thing could really have a negative impact instead of a positive one for Microsoft. People are really passionate about their brands and this could possibly turn into another Pepsi v. Coke.

    • erin_spaulding says:

      I agree. For people like you, a loyal Google fan, I don’t see this tactic working to convert you to a Bing or Outlook user. I also think that Microsoft is fighting a fight about email and search and turning off potentail customers for their surface tablets, windows, and phones.


  3. lynnhoff17 says:

    I felt like with the whole Bing introduction a few years ago, using the ads that implied that other search engines brought back random assorted, unrelated and useless information, Microsoft shot itself in the foot–Bing itself has been by far the biggest offender when it comes to randomness and uselessness.

    So I can’t help but wonder how long it will take “Scroogled” — the ads for which I hadn’t seen; thanks for the introduction! — will come back to bite Microsoft. If you’re going pull your competitor’s pants down, so to speak, you better be sure you’re wearing clothes yourself. It seems like Microsoft is opening itself to a lot of scrutiny, under which it may not hold up.

    And like you I’m just turned off by the whole negative advertising thing to begin with. Just tell me what your product (or politician, as the case often is) uniquely does, and sell me on that.

  4. aflores says:

    Hi Erin,
    You bring up an interesting approach utilized by Microsoft. Maybe they are feeling the competitive pressure and this is why they have gone negative. Like it or not, companies must have a business model and collecting info is just part of Google’s. I had not seen any of the billboards, so I will drive to Palo Alto this weekend to check them out.

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Justin McAneny says:

    I’m like Kristy, I don’t mind Facebook, Google, doing what they are doing. It’s more of an issue of ambivalance I guess. They give me great things for free and possibly put things I would be interested in my face instead of not. And the Scroogle campaign would probably have the opposite affect on me if I weren’t already loyal to Google. Going negative would push me away and just makes me think of Microsoft as a the curmudgeon of the tech industry. Why would I want to use its products?