Scroogled: Clever or Crass? You Be The Judge

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Scroogled Campaign - Clever or Crass?It seems that Google and Microsoft have always been at odds with one another, whether it be the ongoing feud between devoted users or the brands battling it out for market share. It's not often we become privy to the battles themselves, but where Microsoft is concerned, they're certainly keen to spend a decent portion (read: millions of dollars) of their marketing budget on attempting to shame their foes; the search engine giants.

The Scroogled campaign has been in the public eye for over a year now, taking apart Google for privacy related issues. Television adverts and advertising within the online forum have been the basis of the campaign up until recently, when they added a range of merchandise to the mix. Microsoft fans, general web users and other geeky customers can buy Scroogled merchandise - t-shirts and mugs, for now - from the Microsoft store, but they're not being openly publicized. You need to have access to the direct link in order to browse the collection. On top of that, you need to have a Windows account in order to make your purchase. An attempt to get people to register for Windows accounts, or simply a poorly thought out user journey?

The Why Behind The What

The Scroogled campaign is Microsoft's way of warning the public about Google's attempts to gather personal data when using Gmail, Chrome or the Google App Store. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this matter and clearly Microsoft thinks it's only fair to educate the world of web users, specifically when it also has the added benefit of slamming their biggest competitors. Playing nice is not something Microsoft appears to do, remember their campaign advocating Microsoft Office instead of Google Docs - "don't trust the Googlighting stranger"? After all the negative press that received making MS out to be desperately clambering for market share, you'd think they would have cooled off on the Google shaming.

Apparently, Microsoft has been manifesting a strategy marked out by Mark Penn, who has worked with Bill Clinton and also worked with Hillary during her run for office in 2008. He's a media and political strategist, which is probably why the ads seem very political and come across as quite harsh.

Measurable Success

According to Microsoft, the campaign seems to be having the desired effect and users are less inclined to use or recommend Google after viewing the campaign ads.

"Once viewers do hit, data collected for Microsoft by Answers Research show a 45% favorability gap in favor of Google contracting to just 5%. Data collected by Answers up until this summer also show the likelihood of someone recommending Google to a friend drop by 10%, as opposed to a 7% increase for Bing, after watching the ad."

There's no clear indication as to whether or not the merchandise is a big selling point or not, but only time will tell if it forms a lucrative part of their overarching campaign. They're definitely not trying to make money out of it though as all profits from the Scroogled campaign have and are going to charity. Google don't seem too phased by it either, stating that "Microsoft's latest venture comes as no surprise, competition in the wearables space really is heating up." T-shirts and mugs bear slogans such as:

  • Keep Calm While We Steal Your Data
  • I'm Watching You - with the product description stating, "Do you use Google Search? Or Gmail? Or Google Chat? Or Chrome? Then Google is watching you...all the time."
  • There's also a Scroogled world cloud t-shirt with a number of synonyms for the word "scroogled" such as hoodwinked, cheated, double-crossed etc.

So what do you think? Has Microsoft genuinely acted in the public's best interests? Is it clever? Is it cool? Or is this simply a lame attempt to create a campaign that's supposed to be perceived as amusing but comes across as desperate? I'm leaning towards the latter, but it's always interesting to note that there will be those who disagree too.