IMC Intuition

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Bad video can do more harm than good

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With all the brouhaha over video commercials as a pass along media that enhances brand position, this week Microsoft reminded us that a bad video can do more harm than good.

The Wall Street Journal reported on a Microsoft Explorer 8 commercial entitled “O M G I G P Internet Explorer 8 Puke Vomit Girl” that featured a woman throwing up after looking at her husband’s browser history. A commentator moves in and tells us that had he installed the new browser, he could have used a feature that did not record the browser history, hence diffusing the situation.

Pretty stupid. Pretty gross.

 The Microsoft spokesperson said that the ad showed no problem at pre-test, and removed the ad after a number of consumer complaints.

Few comments on You Tube were positive.

The take away from this case is two fold:

1. Bad taste rarely, if ever, sells.

2. Bloggers take no hostages, if they don’t like it, they won’t hesitate to let you know.

In marketing communications, whether digital or analog, advertising fundamentals still apply. Good work is not only the result of good creative ideas and production expertise; it is having an intimate understanding of the target audience. In this case, Microsoft used shock to attract attention and interest in the product, instead the strategy backfired and clearly repulsed viewers.  Comments included: “I can’t really rate this ad, it disgusts me ” and “Disgusting! But that comes with no surprise, it was made by M$.”

Microsoft should have done their homework before this ad was posted. By posting a video in such poor taste, Microsoft not only damaged their brand, the video medium allowed the damage to go viral.

See it yourself:

Link to WSJ, “Microsoft Makes Users Sick, Pulls Ad”, July 2, 2009,


Written by Beth Ryan

July 6, 2009 at 7:30 pm

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