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Microsoft Makes Mistakes

Microsoft Makes Mistakes

In these days of photoshopped perfection, we’ve all noticed tweaks in ads that were probably adjusted after initial run. It could be a vase changed in the corner, a shift in the color of a car – something that typically has no ripple effect. Well, this ad for Microsoft is sending waves throughout the ad world.

A shot of a diverse business setting seemed like a great politically correct ad for the tech giant. Racial, gender, and age differences were all accounted for, just to make the audience aware of the company’s cultural landscape. If we believe the photo, smiling Microsoft employees come in all sizes, shapes and colors. Just one big happy family. (That is until they have to travel to Poland.)

“No explanation for the change was given, but many believed that the image was “whitened” because Poland is one of the world’s most ethnically homogeneous countries,” reports Chris Ayres in his article at TimesOnline.  Clearly, there was a racial sensitivity issue here. I guess they want Polish constituents to see the black folks seated at the table. Sure, that upsets me on some level and it’s just plain stupid. But I have other issues here.

You mean to tell me, that mighty Microsoft cannot afford to purchase the rights to another photo – or shoot what they need?  The company can’t pay the agency (or implore the in-house creatives) to find a suitably sensitive photo for the audience? So swap out the head – “who the hell cares about a man’s hands. This isn’t a Palmolive ad for goodness sake,” right? Wrong!

We all miss something here or there as we develop ads, brochures and websites. Thus, we have proofers, editors, and fact-checkers. I know for  fact that I’m horrible at proofing my own work. The “dreaded blue pen” – aptly named by my daughter after my edits of her college apps – doesn’t seem to work so well on my own work. Tight deadlines may try to push us sidestep some of those critical elements of developing a campaign or product. But situations such as this remind us just how important it is to build in those two extra hours for serious scrutiny.

I guess us small agencies can take this as a lesson.

  1. Never rely on your proof of your own work.
  2. Build adequate review time into your project calendar.
  3. Know that someone out there will catch your mistake. (There are folks who really do read fine print.)
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This entry was posted on 08/27/2009 by in All About the Business, Fix That Ad! and tagged , , , , , , .
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