Are Consumers Getting Scroogled?

Discussion
Nov 25, 2013

Last week, Microsoft began selling t-shirts, caps, hoodies and coffee mugs in support of "Scroogled," its marketing campaign which bashes Google over privacy issues.

Launched last year with TV ads, a petition and a scroogle.com website, Scroogled focuses on the way Google scans consumers’ e-mails and searches only to use that information to target digital ads or shape web-search results. The campaign encourages consumers to switch to Outlook.com, Hotmail and/or Internet Explorer.

Available on the www.microsoftstore.com, a Scroogled logo t-shirt in Google-font urges wearers to show "the world that you’re tired of having your digital life monetized by Google." The back of the t-shirt reads, "Don’t Get Scroogled!"

Also available is a Chrome-themed "Keep calm while we steal your data" mug ($7.99), and an "I’m Watching You" t-shirt ($11.99), also playing up the Chrome logo.

Much of the product was already sold out by late last week with Microsoft and Google employees assumed to have quickly bought out the stock.

The tech world has largely ridiculed the Scroogled campaign since its launch as sophomoric and hypocritical while Google has called it "intellectually dishonest." But some believe the U.S. National Security Agency spying scandal and other revelations are making the public more concerned about personal privacy. At the least, some feel Google may have to do a better job detailing how they use their access to consumer information.

"What we’ve found is that this Scroogled campaign has struck a chord with consumers," a Microsoft spokesperson told Slate. "They really are concerned with the way Google treats them and their privacy. Hundreds of thousands of people have signed a petition, and millions have visited the website. The T-shirts and the mugs are just a way for people to express their concerns with Google in a different way, but sort of a fun way."

Poking fun at Microsoft’s lack of a Google Glass device, Google’s PR team offered a brief, cheeky response: "Microsoft’s latest venture comes as no surprise; competition in the wearables space really is heating up."

What do you think of Microsoft’s Scroogled campaign? Is Google starting to face a bigger backlash over privacy concerns? What’s the likelihood that privacy concerns will be increasingly addressed in marketing approaches?

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20 Comments on "Are Consumers Getting Scroogled?"


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David Biernbaum
Guest
8 years 5 months ago

I predict that Microsoft’s campaign will be a lame marketing failure that will be viewed by intelligent consumers as self-serving and mostly irrelevant, but above all, the “campaign” will be ineffective.

Anne Howe
Guest
8 years 5 months ago

Bringing more visibility to the issue of privacy concerns is a good idea. But waging a silly war with a lot of trinkets and merchandise is, in my opinion, just the beginning of an awareness push. What should happen next is a platform for consumer action that will create meaningful change. Give me that and keep the t-shirt.

Bob Phibbs
Guest
8 years 5 months ago

As is increasingly apparent from Kmart to Microsoft, the PR videos are irrelevant to the main issues those brands are confronting.

In the consumers’ case, the broader picture here is not privacy but robo-ad delivering thanks to Big Data. On RW a couple weeks ago was a story about Shinola – now I’m being stalked across the web with Shinola.

Did I want to be stalked? Was I a buyer? No on both counts.

How companies mistakenly interpret Big Data to market themselves is the bigger issue.

Warren Thayer
Guest
8 years 5 months ago

Sophomoric, hypocritical and intellectually dishonest sum it up pretty well for me. True integrity seems to be vanishing in the face of the ridiculous claims made by businesses and politicians. Google will face some backlash, but I doubt it will reach real critical mass. And if the Scroogle website has already had millions of hits, let’s put the developers in charge of the Obamacare site.

Max Goldberg
Guest
8 years 5 months ago

When you don’t have hot products and services to offer consumers, ridicule your competition. Microsoft is a company adrift, lacking purpose and direction, while Google is a technology leader. Yes, Microsoft scores some points for this campaign, but will it really make people have a more positive attitude towards Windows 8 or switch from Google search to Bing?

Camille P. Schuster, Ph.D.
Guest
8 years 5 months ago

This may be a clever play on words that captures attention, but it diverts consumer attention from what should the primary issue: Microsoft products and services. The campaign leads people to think about Google. They have to play close attention and stay with their whole campaign to get to the Miscrosoft message. The campaign may generate some revenue for Microsoft but will not win consumers.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
8 years 5 months ago

Microsoft’s marketing team certainly has better things to do with their time. This is not it, and does not need to be on their “to do” list. Why is this reminding me of those inane Kmart commercials?

Mohamed Amer
Guest
Mohamed Amer
8 years 5 months ago

Microsoft is certainly jumping on the perceived increased concern over data privacy. Not so sure that Google is facing any more backlash over privacy concerns (other than by its sheer dominant position) nor do I expect them to take any significant actions in response.

This Scroogle campaign is really a refresh from last year’s one where Microsoft attacked Google’s search engine practices. Earlier this year, the Scroogle attack version added GMAIL to the menu around email privacy but the real creative twist of the campaign is this Holiday Season’s popular merchandising!

The attacks by Microsoft are more reflective of the heated competition between the two companies as Google continues to erode the former leading positions Microsoft held in email, and is overtaking Microsoft in the browser and search businesses. To see the extent of Microsoft usage share of the browser war, see historical usage statistics.

Jeff Hall
Guest
8 years 5 months ago

Microsoft’s response to a more innovative competitor seems a bit desperate. Coffee mugs and t-shirts…really?

While there may be some real, underlying and substantive issues regarding consumer privacy, this approach appears out of touch and in some ways makes Microsoft’s concerns weak and less relevant.

John Boccuzzi, Jr.
Guest
John Boccuzzi, Jr.
8 years 5 months ago

The top dog usually becomes the target. Back in the 90s it was, ironically, Microsoft. Walmart in early 2000 and now Google in 2012/13. Americans tend to like underdogs. I am not a fan of strangers reading my email, but if they can target me with better ads that provide me with a free service, I am interested.

This is why Snapchat has become so hot. No real revenue model yet, but wow, everything you send is gone forever in 20 seconds. For people that love privacy that sounds very attractive.

I also find it ironic that Microsoft is complaining about the big bully in the neighborhood since they played the part so well for 20 years. What goes around comes around.

Dick Seesel
Guest
8 years 5 months ago

Microsoft seems to be more interested in negative comparison ads (e.g. the “Scroogled” campaign and the ads comparing Surface to iPad) than in positive marketing of its own product development. This may be Steve Ballmer’s “aggressive” approach to driving Microsoft’s business over the past 10 years, but it’s clear where that has led his company.

Bill Davis
Guest
8 years 5 months ago

Bing is trying to find anyway to get some traction against Google so in my view, chalk this up to those efforts. If you can’t beat them with a superior technology, spread fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) as it’s a time-honored marketing practice in high tech.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
8 years 5 months ago

The campaign is fun. It brings a smile to the face. It is nothing more.

Privacy? We seem to make a bigger issue about privacy with marketers than the NSA. Strange. People resent marketers. They seem to forget Google can’t arrest you.

Roger Saunders
Guest
8 years 5 months ago

If Washington D.C. didn’t have so many other failing issues in play, the privacy issue would be a hot topic on Capitol Hill.

Businesses would do well to openly point out their commitment to privacy, just as credit and debit card companies do on an annual basis (those are marketing dollars that are protecting the concerns from the circling sharks). Acxiom Corporation, a large publicly traded data centered firm, has done an excellent job getting their message out as to protecting consumer privacy matters.

What Microsoft and other concerns build into their marketing message regarding privacy, is to make certain that internal employees practice what they are pointing out. If that wall is broken, a larger PR issue will ensue.

James Tenser
Guest
8 years 5 months ago

Merchandise sales notwithstanding, this campaign has only a slight chance of creating a pop-culture phenomenon. In other words, I’m not betting that “scroogled” will be the verb of the year.

In the online realm, criticizing one’s competitors about poor privacy practices may be a touchy practice, akin to glass houses. Online “stalking” by search engine marketers is, at least, a transparent form of promotion.

Everything we do mobile or on the Web results in the creation of meta-data, however. Online firms would do well to acknowledge this and advocate for its safe, fair stewardship.

Gordon Arnold
Guest
8 years 5 months ago

What we see here is a sample of how misery loves company and/or the dieing don’t want to go it alone. Nobody has made more money selling residential demographic data like Microsoft has. And few if any companies have compiled more resentment for price gouging and monopolistic market practice as has Microsoft. It was these very policies and practices that propelled LINUX into popularity and slammed Microsoft into the back seat of the information technology market. So when you can’t compete, you fire somebody else and stamp your feet.

Tom Smith
Guest
8 years 5 months ago

Microsoft is becoming irrelevant.

It doesn’t have new technology of value to tell us about so it’s going after a “perceived” competitor in the search market?

No wonder Warren Buffett thinks it time for Bill Gates to return.

Karen S. Herman
Guest
8 years 5 months ago

How to monetize goods and services in a collaborative economy is really the conversation to be having. Google is refining Glass to roll out in the marketplace. Microsoft offers Scroogled gear. Hmmm.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
8 years 5 months ago

Not much. Always better to talk about your own strengths than to prattle on about your competitor’s perceived weakness.

Privacy will be the issue of the early 21st Century.

Alexander Rink
Guest
8 years 5 months ago

I would have to say that I agree with most of the comments made already. Privacy is definitely something that consumers should be more aware of and informed about, but coming from Microsoft, it just seems self-serving and not particularly genuine.

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