Microsoft apologizes for cringeworthy 'penis' song at NDC 2012

Microsoft apologizes for cringeworthy 'penis' song at NDC 2012

Summary: The Microsoft Norwegian Developers Conference this year has made headlines for Microsoft. Unfortunately, not about the spring updates to Windows Azure but for a bizarre pop song.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Microsoft
33

The Microsoft Norwegian Developers Conference this year (NDC 2012) has made headlines for Microsoft. Unfortunately the headlines were not all about the spring updates to Windows Azure but for a bizarre song.

Geekwire picked up the story on Saturday pointing to videos on YouTube, uploaded by attendees of NDC 2012.

The song starts innocuously enough with the lines "We are here to talk software, we are here to talk bugs", but continues with "Tonight we're gonna party and coding is our drugs"

It then continues "I got the skills to impress, I'm a computer genius. The words "Micro" and "Soft" don't apply to my penis". The closed caption screens at this point also show the words "(or vagina)".

Perhaps the typists working the closed captions included the "(or vagina)" as an attempt at inclusiveness. Unfortunately it conjures up a worrying alternative .

Then the song continues "CSS is my LSD and XML is my XTC".  In the YouTube video the audience can be heard laughing at the song.

Windows Azure posted a comment on one of the videos and apologised:

This week’s Norwegian Developer’s Conference included a skit that involved inappropriate and offensive elements and vulgar language. We apologize to our customers and our partners and are actively looking into the matter.

Frank X Shaw, Lead corporate communications for Microsoft apologised for the dance routine at the Norwegian Developers conference. He tweeted:

"This routine had vulgar language, was inappropriate and was just not ok. We apologize to our customers and partners".

Most of the comments on youTube indicated that people were amused by the faux pas -- there are fewer comments actually criticising the video.  CJhatesu observed:

"I don't know if I'd refer to XML as ecstasy, but at least they explain why CSS looks so jacked up on IE".

Should Microsoft have apologised? Of course. It is the right thing to do PR-wise. The Windows Azure team did exactly the right thing apologising on the social channel that contained the comments. Was this song a surprise to the local team? Of course not.

These types of events are rehearsed and stage managed down to the minute. The script, presentation, timings, demos and songs are Okayed by the Microsoft events team in conjunction with the local Microsoft office. If this song was the party launch song, it would have been rehearsed in full earlier that day on site.

Events such as NDC, PDC, Teched, Mix and MMS need to generate buzz in order to raise awareness of the event and encourage registrations for the next event. Any buzz generated by the community brings more visibility to the conference.

The song itself, irritatingly catchy in a Euro-pop sort of way, is nothing more raunchy than other songs we have here in Europe. The language is much better than some rap songs. There is no swearing or abuse in the song -- just anatomically correct words.

The NDC has certainly generated the required buzz about the event this year. Developers not using drugs, but preferring to code can only be a good thing.

Hopefully these developers could bear to tear themselves away from their coding to enjoy the party -- despite the quality of the song.

Related content:

Topic: Microsoft

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

33 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • When it comes to PR of any kind (including advertising)...

    ...Microsoft, apparently, doesn't have a clue. How a corporation of their size is consistently embarrassed by one PR faux pas after another is absolutely astounding!
    Userama
    • If this is the worst thing to come out of Microsoft this year . . .

      . . . it will be a good year.

      Edit: Don't miss my point - if this is the worst mistake [b]any[/b] fortune 100 company makes in a year, that's a good year!
      sporkfighter
    • "The problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste"

      The quote was about conceptual, large scale taste about culture of their products, but it also true to small scale.

      To be fair, the problem is within the leaders, not, of course, everyone at MS. There are a lot of people with perfect taste, but there is no one at the helm who could filter out folks with bad taste.
      DDERSSS
      • Coincidentally read a Steve Jobs interview recently

        I subscribe to Wired on my iPad and I read a Steve Jobs interview from 1996. The guy was seriously obsessed with Microsoft. Every other sentence was about how much he hated Microsoft. You could tell the interviewer was trying to get meaningful information from the guy but Steve Jobs just couldn't stop being a petty little mean man.

        So the irony of a petty little spiteful man with no taste saying that Microsof has no taste was not lost on me. Also keep in mind that when Steve Jobs said this, Microsoft could have purchased Apple with its petty cash, Microsoft had the far superior stock price, Microsoft had the far superior marketcap, etc. If we used 2012 Apple fanboi logic, any time anyone says anything negative about Apple, the answer always goes back to their financial health. So I'll use the same logic: Steve Jobs' comments regarding MS are meaningless because he was part of a small failing company at the time while MS was (and still is) a huge success.
        toddbottom3
      • don't forget. toddbottom3, the problem is with MS's leaders

        I wonder though, is it a failing or problem to tell anyone who would point out, (even the mother of the child) that the daughter you fathered, isn't your daughter? To outright lie about something as important as that? probally the most important thing in one's life.

        Would that be considered "good taste"? Conceptually, on larger scale, in reference about the culture of their products, but it would also be true to small scale, what does this say about a company's feelings about advertising and building it's products?

        I doubt the leader of any company would do something like that, claim his daughter isn't his daughter. That would be in bad taste, something a smart CEO would never do.
        William Farrel
      • William: someone actually had the poor taste to do that?

        [i] is it a failing or problem to tell anyone who would point out, (even the mother of the child) that the daughter you fathered, isn't your daughter? To outright lie about something as important as that? probally the most important thing in one's life.[/i]

        I can't imagine anyone showing this much poor taste though. That would be the sign of a horrific man lacking any sort of good moral compass. Why, whoever could you be talking about? /s
        toddbottom3
      • William toddbottom3

        So now you're devolving to the point where you're talking to your other personas? How does Microsoft's continual lack of good taste, get turned to a personal attack on a dead person? You should be ashamed that you work for Microsoft
        Jumpin Jack Flash
      • Jack: DeRSSS was the one who brought up Jobs

        If you have a problem with it, perhaps you should talk to him?
        toddbottom3
    • So if it's an artist, comedian, musician doing this

      it's art, flying n the face of the old gaurd, pushing the envelope of creativity, ect. and should be commended, no - [i]awarded[/i] for shattering the shackels that bound tought, feeling, creativity!!

      Unless it's MS, then it's beacause they don't have a clue. ;)
      William Farrel
    • Planned

      "These types of events are rehearsed and stage managed down to the minute. The script, presentation, timings, demos and songs are Okayed by the Microsoft events team in conjunction with the local Microsoft office. If this song was the party launch song, it would have been rehearsed in full earlier that day on site."

      This was not embarrassment nor a faux pas. This was planned and intended to work this way. Don't be naive. How is anyone seriously thinking this was a mistake? The Microsoft PR staff is "appologizing" because they must cover their a**es, but this was done on purpose.
      jhnnybgood
  • Awesome!

    The song and performance is both fun and entertaining. People are so senstive. Oh noes, they said "penis" and put the word "vagina" on a screen!
    clcrockett
    • And still they apologise...

      You didn't find the content inappropriate for a developers conference? Seriously?

      Management at MS continues to surprise, no surprise is their legion of apologists continuing to make excuses for them (and wonder why they don't improve).
      Richard Flude
      • Come now, Rick

        Don't get me wrong Rich, They should have vetted all advertising, but it's not like companies don't miss something here or there every once in a while.

        Seriously?

        Management at Apple continues to surprise me at times - Remember that whole embarrasing ordeal at the unveiling of the new iPhone features - none that worked on stage, in view of everyone for lack of a simple WiFi signal?

        No surprise is you, and their legion of apologists continuing to make excuses for them (and we wonder why they don't improve)

        So is this really a bigger deal than that was, or is it no big deal and are you just overblowing it as any little speedbump is yet another mountain for you to climb? ;)
        William Farrel
      • Adults

        No, everyone in the room were adults, but perhaps I just have a sense of humor. Explain to me what made it inappropriate... there was no profanity and it was very clearly ment as good fun, nothing more.
        clcrockett
      • A failed demo and call to develop a sense of humour....

        When even MS's communications lead has apologised for the content being inappropriate!

        Some people just don't get it, maybe they'll get promoted to run MS conferences.
        Richard Flude
    • Penis

      Penis, penis, penis, penis
      Vagina, vagina, vagina

      They're words and they're anatomically correct.

      I could believe it in Puritan America, but this is Norway! ;-) Looks like MS thought it was in bible belt country ;-)
      tonymcs@...
      • That's the problem

        In Norway, it wasn't a problem, but the Internet got ahold of it and blew it up into something it wasn't for the MS office in Norway...
        wright_is
    • It's a culture thing...

      I think this is down to a clash of cultures, where, in Europe, mentioning parts of the body (or showing them on prime time TV) isn't scandalous, it is natural occurence, so when something like this hits the 'Net and the non-Scandinavians see it, it suddenly goes from not a very good attempt at humour to an outrage for shocked prudes...

      The local MS group that organised the event are probably still wondering what hit them, because there was nothing offensive or untoward in it, for them.

      The 7 o'clock news over here (Germany) has more nudity than a steamy Hollywood blockbuster with an adult rating in the US.

      I would say, some Americans need to get a grip, but it would only be taken the wrong way :-P
      wright_is
  • M$ must be fined by the FCC

    one billion dollars. The people are outrage by this morally bankrupt company.
    That's why we need more FOSS software promoting positive clean values.
    The Linux Geek
    • A bunch of geeks wrote a tasteless song.

      They happened to be Microsoft geeks, but they could have been anyone's geeks. They could have been football or soccer players or stock brokers or plumbers.

      Dumb story.
      sporkfighter