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Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’

Microsoft Sticks with Former Clinton Flack for Top Strategic Role

Mark-Penn-Microsoft

Microsoft isn’t listening to our advice.

Last week we learned that the company’s new CEO Satya Nadella was supposedly close to dropping former Clinton family flack/Burson-Marsteller head Mark Penn, now known as the guy behind all those anti-Google ads, as part of its brand refresh.

It now appears that Microsoft will take the very opposite approach by giving Penn the chief strategy officer position; he previously served as EVP of ads and strategy.

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Other Brands Are Bullying Apple Now. Should They Respond?

Apple has been the coolest kid on the block for so long that it’s a little weird to see competitors ganging up on the king of Silicon Hill—but bully they will.

Back in August, Microsoft pretty much based its entire Surface promo campaign on making fun of Apple. Here’s an ad telling Siri to talk to the hand:

And we remember Motorola‘s viral “Lazy phone” series bragging about how the new Moto X allows you to “[free] up your hands for more important things” like, say, driving your car or making your bed or cracking a beer. That one came complete with the tagline “ah, so that’s the way a phone should work.”

Bitchy!

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PR Stunt: Microsoft Released a Bunch of (Canadian) Zombies for Product Rollout

Another Halloween stunt we missed yesterday: in order to promote the new Xbox, Microsoft Canada staged a little zombie apocalypse with the help of a few dozen extras bussed in from wherever actors gather to drink and commiserate.

Earlier in the week, the company set up a huge replica of the new console in a parking lot, leaving many to wonder what the hell was going on. They got their answer yesterday morning, when the box opened to reveal the zombie scourge, assembled to promote the upcoming shooter Dead Rising 3.

We assumed that the undead Canucks would be a little more polite than your average zombie, being from the Great White North and all—but judging by these Vine and Instagram video clips, they were just as thirsty for blood and flesh as your average recently deceased, newly cannibalistic fiend. Some onlookers were like “meh“, but most seemed impressed.

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Facebook and Google Seem Serious About ‘Cheap Internet for All’ CSR Projects

him again...

When Mark Zuckerberg first announced his plans to create a free wi-fi program for the third world, quite a few responded skeptically. Was this simply a stunt designed to make Facebook look more like a responsible corporate citizen and less like Grand Theft Auto’s “LifeInvader” while adding millions to membership rolls?

Now it seems that most of tech’s biggest names are on the same page, and various projects that look and sound very similar to Internet.org are moving forward with support from the big boys. The most prominent project to date is the Alliance for Affordable Internet, or A4AI, which gained a good bit of attention this week thanks to the backing of the largest names in tech: Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Cisco Systems and, yes, Facebook. The fact that Tim Berners-Lee, aka the inventor of the World Wide Web, serves as the project’s public face only adds to its credibility.

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Facebook, Other Tech Brands Respond to Latest NSA Surveillance Revelations

The newest bombshell headlines from The Guardian‘s slow-drip reporting on our own National Security Agency‘s data collection/surveillance practices have created some unwanted headaches for the biggest names in tech. Last week’s article revealed that the American government didn’t just gather data from Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft—it also paid them millions of dollars to cover related compliance expenses.

In short, the super-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (or FISA court) ruled in 2011 that some of the NSA’s practices were unconstitutional since the organization could not effectively distinguish foreign communications from standard domestic messages like the ones you send your co-workers and friends every day. The Obama administration declassified this information last week.

After the ruling, the agency had to adjust its way of doing things in order to remedy the problem, and those changes cost participating tech companies millions that the NSA then paid back—hence the “financial relationship” first disclosed in the Guardian piece. It’s all quite labyrinthine and infuriating, but we’re most interested in the big names’ responses.

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Roll Call: Microsoft, SKDKnickerbocker and Hill+Knowlton Strategies

Mark Penn has been promoted to executive vice president of the advertising and strategy group at Microsoft, responsible for the company’s global advertising and marketing strategy. He also oversees a multidisciplinary SWAT team that deals with a range of projects involving marketing, media and compete. His group’s goals include creating world-class advertising and messaging to consumers and business customers delivered through the most cost-effective and scientific means available. Previously, Penn was worldwide CEO of Burson-Marsteller and CEO of Penn Schoen Berland.(Microsoft)

SKDKnickerbocker announced that Lindsey Green, a veteran public relations professional focused on supporting start-ups in the technology and media sectors, has joined the firm as a vice president in the New York City office .Green joins Cecelia Prewitt in expanding the firm’s technology expertise. Prewitt joined SKDK’s Washington office in February from the Federal Trade Commission, where she served as the director of public affairs and senior policy advisor for Chairman Jon Leibowitz. Green will work in SKDK’s public affairs and strategic communications practice, leading the firm’s work serving clients in the technology, start-up and media spaces. Green comes to SKDK after nearly ten years of working with start-up and media companies, most recently running her own consulting firm, Ti14th, for three years. (Release)

Hill+Knowlton Strategies announced the appointment of Drew Levinson, an experienced media and crisis strategist and former CBS News correspondent, to senior vice president in its U.S. media relations practice. Based in New York, Levinson reports to Amy Rosenberg, H+K executive vice president and U.S. director of media relations. In this role Levinson will concentrate on media strategy, executive media coaching and crisis management working across H+K practices. Levinson spent 15 years as a correspondent for CBS News covering national and international events including the World Trade Center terrorist attacks; the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; multiple U.S. presidential campaigns; Hurricane Katrina; the General Motors bankruptcy; the Daimler-Chrysler merger; and the Firestone recall. (Release)

Microsoft Xbox Director Departs After Twitter Overshare

Today in No, You’re Not a Company Spokesperson news: last week some gamer blogs let their readers know that the new Microsoft Xbox, scheduled for a reveal in May, will require users to maintain “an active internet connection” at all times. Now get ready for a shocker: some people who own Xboxes do not have access to an “always on” connection — and the geeks voiced their disapproval online.

Now for the PR Fail: This outrage irritated creative director Adam Orth, who took to his personal Twitter feed to let the world know it. This message started a conversation in which Orth told the concerned parties that they were just out of luck:Orth made a couple of mistakes here: first, he commented on a story that his employer had yet to announce publicly. More importantly, he effectively told members of his own fanbase to stop complaining.

Microsoft didn’t care for that one bit, and we’ll let Brad Pitt tell you why:

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Will Microsoft’s Anti-Google ‘Scroogled’ Campaign Backfire?

In case you missed it, those dumb “Bing challenge” ads aren’t the only front in Microsoft‘s ongoing war with Google. Over the holiday season the company started the “Scroogled” campaign taking its big competitor to task for…we don’t know, failing to protect customers’ privacy or offer “unbiased search results.”

We thought Microsoft had put the series to bed earlier, but they brought it back to life this week with a couple of spots attacking the Android phone for providing Google with an unfair advantage and, again, collecting users’ private information without their knowledge or consent. It’s all a bit more complicated than that, but the message is clear: Google is evil, because Microsoft would never in a million years use customer data in underhanded ways.

This is more about branding and reputation management than technology or the business practices of tech companies. The campaign is obviously working in some way or the company wouldn’t keep pumping out these ads. But Microsoft casting itself as David to Google’s Goliath? We don’t see that message as a long-term winner. It all makes the runner-up look more than a little desperate.

Former Apple Exec Thinks the Company’s PR Strategy Is All Wrong

Over the last few weeks, we’ve posted several stories about Apple‘s newer, more aggressive PR strategy in the post-Jobs era. Not only is the tech giant focused on pushing its own products; it’s also giving its executives more leeway to take shots at rivals like Samsung as they see fit.

Jean-Louise Gassée worked for Apple throughout the 80′s as the head of its French division and later directed Macintosh product development before leaving due to strategic differences with other executives. On Sunday he posted an op-ed on the Monday Notes tech blog with the ominous headline “Apple Is Losing the War–of Words“. Gassée‘s conclusion will surprise many in the tech world, because he thinks the Apple PR team should take a few cues from Microsoft and hire an outside firm better versed in the art of “verbal warfare.”

Wait, what? Let’s explore this a little further, shall we?

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Is This The World’s First Vine Press Release?

Today we may have witnessed a first: a press release delivered via 6-second Vine mini-video. The makers of Sonar, a “social discovery app” that allows users to find others by geographical proximity (which Mediabistro profiled in this Elevator Pitch video), just received a big investment from Microsoft‘s Bing Fund–and they chose a unique way of letting the world know about it:

TechCrunch hopes this move doesn’t become a thing. What do we think? Can you imagine companies announcing new hires or clients with little clips like this one?

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