Has Microsoft quietly done away with its anti-Google "Scroogled" campaign?
Derrick Connell, a Microsoft Corporate Vice President in charge of the Bing Experiences team, said over the weekend in a hosted Q&A session that Microsoft is "now done with the (Scroogled) campaign.
The Scroogled campaign, which was masterminded, in large part, by former Hillary Clinton strategist Mark Penn -- who, after the latest reorg at Microsoft is Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer -- has met with mixed perceptions. Though few would question Microsoft's right to counter Google's products and policies via marketing campaigns of its own, the tone of the "Scroogled" campaign hasn't been to everyone's liking.
Microsoft's Scroogled Web site is still live, as is the Scroogled Twitter handle. (The last Twitter update from the team came on March 20, 2014.) Scroogled mugs, t-shirts and hats are still for sale (with profits donated to charity, according to the site.)
Here's the full context of what Connell said on Yabbly when asked what he thought of Scroogled:
Q: What do you think of the Scroogled campaign?
A: That campaign had a primary purpose so let me explain that first. 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. Mostly I feel proud that we decided to do it regardless of how we might be perceived.
When I asked Microsoft if the Scroogled campaign is, indeed, over and when the decision was made to pull the plug, a company spokesperson sent me the following statement:
“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.”
To me, that statement doesn't completely close the door on Scroogled, but also doesn't outright deny that it's dead.
It's worth noting a few things here. First, Connell is not some random, low-level figure. He reports directly to Microsoft Executive Vice President Qi Lu, who runs the company's Applications and Services Group. Connell's Bing Experience team focuses on design, the Bing.com home page, Bing verticals and Bing-powered services across Microsoft. Connell is not a marketing guy, however.
Secondly, as Microsoft's official response indicates, whatever happens/happened to Scroogled, Microsoft is not throwing in the Google-compete towel. I'd expect Microsoft to continue to go on the offensive and defensive against Google.
Finally, Penn no longer controls Microsoft's advertising budget, after the most recent reorg. So perhaps Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela may decide to put the company's advertising/marketing dollars elsewhere.
Update: Yabbly officials said Microsoft officials have requested the removal of the answers in Connell's AMA. So the Q&A I transcribed above is no longer available publicly.