Microsoft Scroogled Again

21 Mar

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. If you heard an almighty thump recently coming from Redmond, Washington, it was probably the sound of Microsoft falling from their high horse.

Email Wars
The Softies have spent considerable time and effort recently painting themselves as the good guys to Google’s bad guys in the v Gmail war. Jonny wrote in depth about it here, but in essence, they championed their “we don’t scan your email” approach whereas “evil Google” do.

So far, so good. Except no one told the marketing department that Microsoft do scan your inbox and, worse, actually have people read your mail. Where’s the ethical high horse now?

Microsoft have been going to great lengths to tell anyone who will listen that they’ve done nothing wrong. The T&Cs of Hotmail,’s predecessor, allowed them to read the bloggers email and they were looking for someone stealing corporate secrets.

Maybe that makes it all OK. But if you position your company as the ethical white knight, you can’t throw that positioning out of the window because it’s a bit inconvenient.

Much like when Google admitted scanning emails for marketing purposes, this revelation is unlikely to lead to millions of users dumping their accounts and switching service. But there is a salient lesson in there for marketing teams and corporate culture.

Brand lesson
Your brand isn’t just what’s written on your posters, published on your website or rolled out in marketing campaigns with amusing titles. It’s the sum total of what people think and feel about your company when they see or interact with your firm.

Microsoft have fallen into the trap of operating in silos (maybe that’s inevitable with over 100,000 people in the company) but it doesn’t have to be this way.

When you’re developing your digital marketing, remain authentic to what your company is and what your company does. Just because you’re operating on social media doesn’t mean you have to start talking like da kidz. We’ve got a name for that here at Navajo: putting a baseball hat on it. And we don’t like it!

Be credible, be authentic, let your brand emerge from within the company and reflect back at your stakeholders – customers, shareholders, staff – what it means to them. Don’t try and chase cheap column inches or get one up on competitor with short term gimmicks because, as Microsoft has shown, that’s a good way to find yourself scroogled.


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