When a big brand gets marketing wrong it’s difficult not to laugh at their expense, but when a global blue chip like Microsoft makes a mistake it can lead to excess coverage for all the wrong reasons.
A recent article on the BBC website highlighted that software allowing a Microsoft program to run on Linux contained the hexadecimal code “B16B00B5”. It may look innocuous, but this is a “humorous” developers way of getting “Big Boobs” into a software core. It’s akin to a bored teenager inputting something rude on a calculator, but in this instance the calculator was a piece of globally distributed software.
Although it’s a gaff Microsoft would have rather avoided, it pales into insignificance when compared to a recent PR event in Norway to promote updates to the Windows Azure cloud computing platform. As a hardcore dance track played, dancers jumped and bounced around the stage in front of a crowd of software developers. I think it’s fair to say the Microsoft PR people misjudged the tone of the event as well as the choice of the song and lyrics (the chorus which features a rapper on helium has to be heard to be believed).
It doesn’t stop there however. The lyrics to the song are absurd, and you have to question the PR guru that cleared the lines “CSS is my LSD” (Cascading Style Sheets; what we developers use to style websites), “XML is my ecstacy” (Extensible Markup Language; rules for encoding documents in a format that is both humanand machine-readable) and wait for for it… “The words Micro and Soft don’t apply to my penis”. But the biggest gaff of all is that Microsoft PR guys thought that the lyrics might be missed by some people in the audience, so they went the whole hog and displayed them, word for word, on the jumbo screen, and when the song reached the part where the rapper sang “The words Micro and Soft don’t apply to my penis” the screens actually stated “penis (or vagina)” to ensure it wasn’t sexist!
Anyway, here it is; an example of a calamitously poor PR event (but at least it’s not sexist):
It’s safe to say that both of these examples of marketing and PR definitely fall derrière over elbow into the category “how not to successfully promote your brand and engage with your customer base”.