Bing vs. Bing: Pitching To Be Its Pitchman?

You had to expect it.The personage who writes the Bing blog and column for Fortune is "moderately outraged" by Microsoft's use of his pen name as the name of its latest search engine.
Written by Tom Steinert-Threlkeld, Contributor

You had to expect it.

The personage who writes the Bing blog and column for Fortune is "moderately outraged" by Microsoft's use of his pen name as the name of its latest search engine.

Gil Schwartz, the executive vice president and chief communications officer of CBS Corporation (which owns ZDNet), writes screeds about inanities about life at the top of American corporations. He does so under the pen name Stanley Bing. His latest book? "Executricks," about enjoying the perks of executive live, while working only as much as absolutely essential.

So it might not be a good fit to use Stanley as a spokesman for Bing in Microsoft's upcoming $100 million on behalf of a search engine that it hopes will set a new standard in tireless and effective pinpointing, retrieval and presentation of information.

But, hey, do you really expect this latest Microsoft campaign to show as much wit or creativity as the ongoing Mac vs. PC campaign from Apple?

Here's a quick summary of plans from the Wall Street Journal, which hosts the All Things D: conference where Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer showed off Bing yesterday:

Microsoft's ads for Bing are expected to take a swipe at Google without mentioning its rival by name, a continuation of Microsoft's aggressive marketing tactics, according to people familiar with them. Its recent "Laptop Hunter" ad campaign dings Apple Inc.'s Macintosh computers as too expensive.

The premise of Bing's ad push will be to highlight search overload. One of the humorous TV spots shows a woman asking her friend a question but her pal is unable to answer and begins to babble uncontrollably -- a symptom of being exposed to too many search results, according to a person familiar with the matter.

In conjunction with the 30- and 60-second ads, the campaign will offer a heavy dose of nontraditional marketing, including a special campaign on video site Hulu.com, which will include a phone-a-thon for a fictitious illness caused by too many irrelevant search results, according to people familiar with the matter. The ad campaign was created by JWT, a unit of WPP Group PLC.

As suggested by one commenter on Bing's blog, Microsoft might be snarky enough to give Stanley a cameo in this "onslaught of commercials." You know, something like Bing versus the Cool Apple guy.

Only Google is the relevant competitor. And it doesn't have a cool or uncool guy of any sort doing any commercials anywhere for its engine.

So maybe Microsoft should follow up what Stanley calls its "incredible act of branding sagacity" and perform an incredible act of marketing sagacity.

Put the $100 million back into raising Bing to a level where it is an order of magnitude better than Google's engine.

Then people will switch. And Bing the Author (and his friends) can comment on how "massively well-optimized" Bing the Search Engine is, for further fun.

Of course, if Mr. Ballmer is interested in Mr. Bing's advice, he can always ask (on Bing's BNET blog).

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