Microsoft's Scroogled campaign heading for the exits?

Microsoft may be ending its Scroogled ad campaign against Google, according to ZDNet.

For more than a year, the software giant has produced ads that slam Google products and services over privacy concerns and alleged deceptive practices. The campaign is the creation of Mark Penn, now an executive at Microsoft, who has had a long career as a Democratic political campaign consultant.

With Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s new chief executive, at the helm, I recommended in a recent column that the company ditch the campaign. Other than seeming silly, I said the campaign “stirs up a general anxiety over technology, which is a self-inflicted wound” for Microsoft. After a recent Microsoft reorganization, Penn was named chief strategy officer but no longer controls the firm’s advertising budget, according to reports.

Derrick Connell, a Microsoft executive who oversees Bing, said in an interview on Yabbly that the campaign achieved its goals (Connell’s answers have since been removed, reports ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley, per a request Yabbly received from Microsoft):

The main purpose was to bring attention to some activities that we didn’t like as a company (for e.g. the idea of scanning email for the purpose of selling you ads seemed wrong). As a company we deeply care about trustworthy computing and user privacy. We felt there were things happening in the industry that didn’t match our world view, and the campaign was aimed at providing information to consumers.

It is tricky as you want to raise awareness and do it in a fun way. I think we achieved that goal, and changed some policies, and we are now done with the campaign.

Microsoft’s statement to ZDNet didn’t clarify matters:

We are always evaluating and evolving our marketing campaigns. There are times when we use our marketing to highlight differences in how we see the world compared to competitors, and the Scroogled campaign is an example of this. Moving forward, we will continue to use all the right approaches and tactics when and where they make sense.

Scroogled’s Twitter account last tweeted in March:

Above: A hat from Microsoft’s Scroogled store.

Michelle Quinn Michelle Quinn (177 Posts)

Michelle Quinn is a Business Columnist at the San Jose Mercury News. Prior to her current role, she was the Silicon Valley correspondent at Politico covering tech policy and politics. She has also covered the tech industry at the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. She was a blogger for the New York Times.