Microsoft reveals previously unknown gift for satire

This is from The Waffle Group blog — where it really is all about the syrup:

It certainly seems that Microsoft are moving into the scathing humour industry when one looks at this press release entitled “Microsoft Brings Holiday Cheer on a Budget to Hispanic Families With Microsoft Office 2007 and Microsoft Office 2007 Language Pack in Spanish.”

Honestly, that really is the headline. Holiday Cheer on a Budget! With Microsoft Products! Now in Spanish!

It’s either satire, or Microsoft are using their system administrators to write press releases.

Damn! Wish I’d found this first. You really owe it to yourself to read the rest of the post.


Microsoft worse at irony than it is at operating systems

In a recruitment effort, Microsoft is giving out decks of cards with the phrase “Hey Genius” emblazoned on their backs. The fronts are a standard deck of cards but each describes different MS products or initiative the putative genius could work on. Now where I come from you only say “Hey genius” when someone has truly, truly proved they are anything but. My favorite card, from an irony standpoint, are the jokers both of which tell people that they might be forced to work on Zune, the company’s not-yet-closed attempt to compete with the iPod.

Further proof of Redmond’s tin ear for irony can be found in the following:

MSN China has invited users of its messaging service to put a red love heart followed by ‘China’ in front of their names to support the Olympic Games.

I mean, they’ve got to be kidding, right? I certainly hope MSN users in the rest of world have the option of using that symbol of the red circle with the line through it.

How much do the official sponsors of the Munich Beijing Olympic games wish they could remove their names from being used on any ads outside of The Middle Kingdom. For once I am going to tune in to watch the coverage of the games, not the games themselves. It will be a fascinating moment to watch all these sports reporters have to cover the ongoing political insanity.

Speaking of which, here’s one story that hasn’t hit the press here in the West yet. Seems the China is doing a major effort to remove gays and lesbians from Beijing.

AIDS activists and gay rights supporters in China have sounded an alarm following one of the largest crackdowns on gays and lesbians in Beijing, evidently as part of a “clean-up” ahead of the Olympics.

The idea that Beijing is removing gays and lesbians and then having thousands of Olympic athletes come to town shows that the Chinese have a very … um … closeted view of what goes on in the Olympic village. It has also been reported that prostitutes are being “cleaned out” of Beijing, showing that the Chinese really don’t understand how to get on the media’s good side.

Perfect co-branding: Windows Vista toilet paper

When I recently bought a new computer I got a Lenovo — causing me to be named Customer of The Year by the online CMO. I got the Lenovo in part because I love ThinkPads and in part because they made it very easy for me to get Windows XP. Below is a picture of a product that sums up the feelings of many of us. I suspect it may be a better TP than an OS.


Microsoft, Yahoo get all nice and cozy with repressive Chinese police state

Microsoft and Yahoo have both signed an agreement with the Chinese Government, which pushes a desire for the two companies to record the identities of bloggers and censored content. Eighteen other web companies have signed this agreement as well.

I’d like to ask Mr. or Mrs. Gates two questions: 1) How do you explain this to the kids? Exactly how does this square with the goals of The Gates Foundation?

Bill and Melinda Gates believe every life has equal value. In 2000, they created the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help reduce inequities in the United States and around the world.

Y’know, when Ford was doing business with the Nazis at least it was in keeping with the publicly stated beliefs of the company’s founder.

Mr. Welch: You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?

Consumerists’ 10 Worst Marketing Mistakes (sort of)

As insomniacs and other long-time readers now, I am a big fan of The site does a great job of reporting on consumers’ (mostly but not always) unhappy experiences with companies. If you’re a marketer it’s a must read so at the very least you learn what not to do. All that said, I was dissappointed to read their list of the Top 10 Worst Marketing Gaffes, Blunders & Disasters:

  1. Hindenberg
  2. Edison electrocutes an elephant
  3. Ford Edsel
  4. Tylenol Cyanide Scare
  5. Beatles Yesterday & Today album art
  6. Microsoft Blue Screen of Death press conference
  7. Calvin Klein amateur porno-style ads
  8. Honda robot falls down stairs
  9. New Coke
  10. McDonald’s I’d Hit It

I can come up with a bunch just in the last couple of years that are worse than anything on this list.

  • The Tylenol thing was a PR disaster at first but once it became clear that the poison was the result of an outsider the public pretty much forgot about it, witness the brand’s success since then. The on-going Bausch & Lomb eye wash nightmare is far worse. Last year it was linked to an infection that caused blindness and another batch just cropped up today. This happened because of something in the manufacturing process and the PR response was a nightmare. This could actually destroy the brand.
  • The Microsoft and Honda things were embarassing but no way are they in the 10 worst. I’d put Judy Regan’s OJ book fiasco way ahead of those two if for no other reason than it was a deliberate and planned effort, not just a mishap with the demo of a product.
  • McDonald’s I’d Hit It? Yeah, everyone got a laugh over the misuse of slang for intercourse, but it’s hard to see that as a huge disaster. How about the Vioxx or Ambien stories? Ambien got bushwhacked with a PR problem when Patrick Kennedy blamed it for his renewed drug problem, which wound up being a big plus for rival drugs which could say they were non-addictive. Merck currently faces 27K lawsuits over Vioxx and even if they win every one the brand has suffered permanent damage.
  • Yesterday and Today wasn’t even The Beatles worst PR disaster, let alone one of the top 10 of all time. The band’s worst was John’s comment about being more popular than Jesus.
  • How about BP having its claim of being environmentally friendly blow up in its face when their Alaska pipeline started leaking like the Celtic’s defense?
  • Or how about Enron or even JetBlue’s recent problems or GM/Ford/Chrysler continuing to push SUVs as gas hit $3 a gallon? Or NBC blowing rigging a Ford pickup truck to blow up? Or the great Ford Pinto fiasco?
  • Or KFC and it’s rodent problem?

Kudos to Consumerist for getting historical with Edison and the Hindenberg, but they need to get up to date with their current marketing disasters. You guys are still one of the channels-of-choice for tracking business stupidity, let’s get this list right. Keep the top 3 and the always-wonderful new Coke disaster and replace the rest with some real disasters.

A not-so-evil Empire: Microsoft may exit China

Fred Tipson, senior policy counsel for the computer giant, said concerns over the repressive regime might force it to reconsider its business in China. “Things are getting bad… and perhaps we have to look again at our presence there,” he told a conference in Athens. “We have to decide if the persecuting of bloggers reaches a point that it’s unacceptable to do business there.

Are you listening, Google?

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The Great Satan wants CHICKEN!!!

Remember back when Microsoft was presumed to be corporate evil personified? That was before Google discovered China and, of course, before Mr. Gates decided to turn himself into the world’s premier venture capitalist of public health. Well, maybe they’re not as evil … but they still do screw up. The company previewed its new Vista operating system in Latvia yesterday only to find out that in Latvian the word means chicken and is slang for a “frumpy old woman.” Yes, but it’s a frumpy old woman who is helping to rid the world of disease.

Better late than never: Two posts from last week from two of my favorite blogs

From The Consumerist, why you should be cashing in those Delta frequent flier miles NOW:

Delta workers, how would you like a free t-shirt?

    “… the nation’s No. 3 airline is asking some 50,000 employees to volunteer to clean aircraft at night on their own time. Their reward: a free T-shirt, reward points good for merchandise and a chance to show their pride in the airline….”

Someone else told us recently that you should cash in your Delta miles soon because they’re going under. This news seems to confirm that suspicion or, at the very least, they’re in big doggy doo.

Clean for Pride, Not Pay, Delta Asks Staff” [St. Petersburg Times] (Thanks to Ian!)

From the truly essential

Microsoft has a fingerprint reader that will let you enter password protected sites or accomplish logins without the need for entering your username and password.  Just touch your finger to the device, and you’re in.  It is a time saver, and presumably offers extra security protection.  Or does it?

*MOUSE PRINT: “The fingerprint reader is not a security feature and is intended to be used for convenience only.” [Online “Getting Started” manual,, April 10, 2006]

The actual disclaimer adds more cautions:

Fingerprint disclaimer

Who would have expected that a fingerprint reader should not be used for security purposes?  At least the warning was disclosed.

Steve Ballmer: I’d brainwash my kids to protect Microsoft

 There is nothing the sweatiest man in IT won't do for MS. From an interview in Fortune: 

Do you have an iPod?

No, I do not. Nor do my children. My children–in many dimensions they're as poorly behaved as many other children, but at least on this dimension I've got my kids brainwashed: You don't use Google, and you don't use an iPod.