Microsoft’s “Scroogled” campaign just the beginning, kitchen sink on the way

Microsoft’s “Scroogled” campaign just the beginning, kitchen sink on the way
While it was probably part of the big plan from the beginning, Microsoft is likely to turn up the heat on Google as it campaigns on all fronts, and keeps hitting at Google’s strength which is search.

There is a man behind the scenes pushing this campaign, and he is not some Madison Avenue type from New York. Mark Penn is his name, and his background is in political polling, campaigning and analyzing data to the nth-degree. Mr. Penn gained notoriety in Washington, DC circuits by organizing destructive efforts against enemies of Bill and Hillary Clinton. He was instrumental in President Clinton’s re-election campaign in 1996. Very few political relationships last for any long period of time, and in the lens of that reality, Penn’s strategy is not for everyone.

The “Scroogled” campaign is only one piece of the strategy, but it is the most overt swing at Google search and its shopping service.  Penn is also behind the blind side-by-side comparisons that have popped up, challenging people to pick the best search for them.

How does a political operative translate to a marketing campaign? Quite well actually. Penn was made head of Microsoft’s “strategic and special projects” in August and his goal is to trip up Google at every opportunity. When those opportunities arise, the plan is then to exploit those potential gaffes by way of a flame-throwing commercial in mere hours. It gives Microsoft a political nimbleness that is not often seen in such strategic efforts like the one underway now, Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, unified experience, search, and up soon will be the next Office.

Microsoft stands to gain from inquiring minds of the US and European Union governments who have been scrutinizing Google’s privacy policies and business practices, which could lead to action against Google. However, Microsoft is not waiting for a train that may not come, and that is Mark Penn’s focus. From the looks of things, he is just getting warmed up, “Google should be prepared for everything but the kitchen sink thrown at them,” according to a former colleague from Penn’s political days, “Actually, they should be prepared for the kitchen sink to be thrown at them, too.”

This effort reinforces what we ostensibly knew was coming from Microsoft. Bill Gates said it himself, “People will be pretty amazed about the energy Microsoft’s putting behind this new wave of products.”  That includes the marketing behind these new products. Love it or hate it, Microsoft is pulling out all the stops.

“The concept is to create a SWAT team to work with the product teams on some of their toughest problems,” said Mr. Penn in talking about the small organization he has put together, which consists of fewer than a dozen people, most of whom live in Washington, DC. Given the nature of what Penn is trying to accomplish, many of these team members are former political allies that know the nuances of operating a rhetorical flamethrower.

The first fruit of this fast moving team is the “Scroogled” campaign which was pieced together very quickly after Google made changes to its search results in its shopping service. They followed a political model which involved polling and quick production of a response to get the message out to users and potential customers.

Microsoft has played hardball before, notably going after Gmail. A company spokesman did admit however that Microsoft did not do too well challenging those “Get a Mac” commercials that Apple ran. As Bill Gates said though, there is a new energy to drive these new products and services, and Mark Penn is part of that drive.

To Microsoft’s credit, the company does not need to outright topple Google in a blitz of ads and campaigns. All Microsoft needs is to plant a seed of doubt, and results will root from there. If that requires a kitchen sink, we are sure that Microsoft has more than one.

sources: The New York Times via Neowin
photo: The New York Times

Story timeline



1. TheLibertine

Posts: 484; Member since: Jan 15, 2012

And let the fanboy wars begin!

11. Henrik

Posts: 141; Member since: Feb 18, 2012

The only reason as to why Google never retaliate or make mudslinging campaigns about competing products/services is pretty obvious to anyone that cares to think about it. A.) Google don't want to put any light on the Microsoft campaigns that reveals the more shady side of Google's deceptive business ideology. B.) Google want to keep up appearances as being "the do-no-evil Good Guy" even while actually being called out as being the real Bad Guy. C.) *The most important one* Google do NOT want to make campaigns about competing products/services simply because they do NOT want people to know about Bing, Bing Maps, Office Web Apps, Office 365 or Windows Phone. Why? Well, if people can't figure that out, they might as well not even bother having an opinion about this at all. The answer should be pretty obvious at this point.

13. tedkord

Posts: 17362; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

As someone who has used Bing and Bing navigation, I can assure you that Google has nothing to worry about with people being made aware of them - to put it bluntly, they both suck. As far as evil, Google does have it's evil side - all major businesses do. But when compared to MS, well there's a reason MS was known as the evil empire...

18. Henrik

Posts: 141; Member since: Feb 18, 2012

You speak as a consumer, not as a business. Google don't look at Bing and Microsoft the way you do, because Google does business - they're not a consumer. And you got to be really biased or blindfolded to think that Google isn't watching Microsoft's steps closely. Just because Google has a search engine and map service that is in some areas better than Bing today, does not mean it's automatically going to stay that way forever. Google know this very well, seeing as they know who they're dealing with, while you obviously choose not to acknowledge it. MySpace was a cool place too, care to do a sign-up there today? Or perhaps a new Hotmail account? Why not Yahoo..? Or perhaps buy a Symbian phone, or a Windows Mobile 6.x? Wasn't Apple dead and gone, too? Until Microsoft loaned them the money to get back on their feet? So, with those examples given - do you still honestly think Google don't care? YOU might be confusing Microsoft with some small-time player short of cash, power and services, but Google sure don't.

74. jamrockjones

Posts: 345; Member since: Oct 26, 2011

"Google don't" ..... that's terrible grammar. Honestly you lost all validity after writing that. Sorry, it was bugging me, just had to point it out.

77. Henrik

Posts: 141; Member since: Feb 18, 2012

Not everyone is having English as their native language, bro. How many languages do you speak fluently without grammatical errors? Hmm? "Honestly you lost all validity after writing that." That sounds even more stupid than using a faulty grammar. Perhaps it was really the content of the comment that put you off, and not the grammar? Could be, could very well be ...

20. Henrik

Posts: 141; Member since: Feb 18, 2012

My point is: Things change, and has always done so throughout history. Microsoft was untouchable, yet things changed. Yahoo was king, yet things changed. MySpace had 300 million+ users, then things changed. Now people think Apple and Google are untouchable, but why should they be any different? Every brand got their loyal customers, but most people just don't give a F.

29. MeoCao unregistered

Of course things will change, nothing lasts forever. But Google is a very young company and it will be at the top for a very long time for sure. Yahoo is young too but they are on decline, that's simply b-c they have to compete with Google. Google has unique strength that guarrantees their success: ability to attract and use talents. That's why Google is so creative.

40. Edmund

Posts: 656; Member since: Jul 13, 2012

As someone who uses Yahoo search, Nokia Maps, Office,, X-Box Live, and IE10, I can assure you that google has a lot to worry about

49. Nadr1212

Posts: 741; Member since: Sep 22, 2012

I'd read the article if it wasn't so long

58. tedkord

Posts: 17362; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Of course things can change. But today, December 16, 2012, if 100 people tried Bing or Bing Nav, 97 would be back to Google immediately.

19. MeoCao unregistered

MS better have good products before attacking competition. Bing sucks so what's the point of paying so much money promoting it? And Bing is a copy of Google Search and has the same business model. so this is high hypocricy from MS as usual.

22. Henrik

Posts: 141; Member since: Feb 18, 2012

Google was a copy of Altavista and all the other large search engines before it, so what's your point? It's not as if Google came up with a new market all by themselves. Although Bing too has advertisements, they are not using ads to the same extent as Google - as you would clearly see if you look into the Scroooogled campaign material. Microsoft's business don't revolve around advertising and privacy-intrucive user profiling - because Microsoft got products and services that comes at a purchase costs that PAYS for the other Microsoft services you use for free. Google has no such products, and therefor relies entirely on you being willing to shell (and sell) out your personal information and being shown ads everywhere instead. 96% of Google's total profits comes from their advertising business, so how do you make that into being the same business model as Microsoft's, outside Bing? :-) There's a reason as to why there's almost no ads at all on - and NO privacy-intrusion scanning of the emails "in order to serve up personalized ads". Because Microsoft don't have to - they get their money from elsewhere. Windows, Office, Azure, etc. But Google don't.

28. MeoCao unregistered

One question comes up: why Google is successful and others are not? Google has 1 revolutionary idea: targetted ads. MS is pure COPYCAT, it does not offer anything radically better. Yes there is difference in MS and Google business models: they have to earn money somehow but what is the bad influence on people lives that "privacy-intrucive user profiling" has? I think most people prefer this to paying their hard earned money for superb Google's services. I know MS loses big on search and advertising, but that simply is b-c they can't compete and nothing else. MS is a giant COPYCAT: XBox, Zune, Bing, WP... you name it.

38. Henrik

Posts: 141; Member since: Feb 18, 2012

Tell me again, what product is Xbox copying? And Windows Phone? And Bing? Not even Zune was a copy, it was just an answer to the iPod. When you say "copy", you seem to automatically think that any competing product is a copy - even though they happen to operate and look very different, just because they are in the same category? Perhaps you should take down that pointing finger of yours, because Google is just as much of a copycat in that case. They have not been first with Anything, since all the products they serve have been available by other companies before them. They even bought a few instead of building them themselves. Google is big because they can get away with releasing half-baked betaproducts, simply because they do not charge money for them. It has nothing to do with the products being better, because face it - they not always are. They are just "without purchase cost", and endorsed by everyones favorit house pet "Google". Instant success. But it makes a lot of competitors go out of business along the way, to sustain the monopoly Google is sucessfully trying to build. But people don't mind as long as it's not Microsoft doing it, which is clear to see in every Microsoft/Google related comment section. Trading one monopoly for another is OK, because "it's only Google". And Google is not a stock traded company responsible only to their shareholders and investors, right? :-) Get off your "MS evil copycat" 1999 bulls**t. Microsoft spends billions of dollars on research every year, more than Google and more than Apple. And if you think Google is not copying/following Microsoft (and others), how come all their successful products not bought from other companies are direct answers/competiting services to Microsoft's most successful products? Hotmail/Gmail. Office/Google Docs+Apps. Internet Explorer/Chrome. MSN Maps (and earlier)/Google Maps. MSN Messenger/Gtalk etc. Windows Mobile/Android. Windows/ChromeOS. And so on and so forth. Even Google's search engine is a rip-off from Altavista and earlier. Point is - Microsoft was around long before Google. And Google don't come up with ideas on their own any more than Microsoft do.

42. MeoCao unregistered

MS the COPYCAT: IE: Netscape Xbox: PS Zune: iPod Bing: Google Search WP: iOS and Android It's understandable that sometimes a company has to learn from competitors but MS only waits for a big successful ideas to copy w/o any substantial improvement. Google is different, it's a young company so it benefits from the old system, but it's different from MS: it's creative. Google is so creative it has to pay some price as innovating is not easy, but the world is much better with Google.

48. Henrik

Posts: 141; Member since: Feb 18, 2012

IE and Netscape battled hard back in the 90's. How about Chrome? Wasn't that invented 15 years later..? Xbox and PS copied Nintendo as being home entertainment tv gaming consoles, but still none of them are the same. They got different approach, uses different technology and cater very different ecosystems. Not even their online gaming services or offerings are the same. Zune and iPod copied earlier portable MP3 players in the MP3 prime time, so there's no point in doing that comparison. None of them were 1st, they just jumped in to capitalize on the lucrative moment. Bing is MSN Search and Windows Live Search re-branded, and has very little to do with Google since Google was not the biggest during that time. MSN Search goes back to 1998, at a time when Altavista ruled the world and had Microsoft as partner. Finally, Windows Phone is the least copycat of ANY mobile OS out there. It looks like no other, and if you try to clam it still does - you're straight-up lying. Microsoft had Windows Mobile (apps and all) long before Android was introduced, and although Windows Phone is a clean cut codewise from the aging Windows Mobile - it's certainly not Microsoft's 1st entrance into the smartphone world. So what you really wanted to say was that Android copied Windows Mobile, and that Google copied everyone else, wasn't it? :-) I'm tired of this. Google have made good services, but I'm sick of people treating them as some holy entity that should get a friendly pass in all areas of technology. As if they can do no wrong, and never follows. People sadly seem to know as little about Microsoft as they know about the real Google.

62. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

I just sick of M$ silly campaign, Its attack on competitor is unnecessary. If your service is good, good words will get around and people will start using it.

66. MeoCao unregistered

Your still can't see the point here: It's no shame to learn from the competition, but you must add your own improvement. Look at everything that Google did, they did not simply copied, they made things better Look at MS did: they simply copied things w/o any improvement (Xbox may be a rare exception). And that's shame for a big company like MS.

50. Dastrix unregistered

So what's your point? Are you objecting to the idea of competition and diversity? Of course Xbox came after PS, but that does not necessarily mean that it's a 'copycat' as you'd call it. Monopoly is good. Diversity, however, is much better. Learn to appreciate competition.

67. MeoCao unregistered

My advise is to read carefully and understand what was written before lecturing to others Look at my answer above.

72. Dastrix unregistered

Clearly, your definition of 'different' sounds eerily similar to 'similar.' Sorry buddy, but there's a fine line between the two, and 'COPYCAT' isn't the only word in the dictionary. I'd suggest you brush up on your vocabulary before you bark. And, MY advice to you is to carefully pay attention to your grammar before enlightening others. You're using Chrome, right? Unless you're illiterate, it would seem that you need a better browser, buddy. Your response to my comment is better suited to YOUR actual situation since you couldn't quite assimilate Henrik's discussion. You're THE one missing the point. Let me break it down for you. Whatever point you're trying to prove is subjective. Please stand from an objective perspective. It would be unproductive to have a biased discussion. Innovation is a broad term. Google is, indeed, an innovative company, in terms of introducing an open-source OS. Microsoft brought along a panoply of features unique to the Windows Phone ecosystem. When companies resort to competition, they certainly have a motive for doing so. Innovation is one of them. Microsoft is as innovative as Google. AGAIN, monopoly is good. Diversity, however, is much better. Learn to appreciate competition.

59. haseebzahid

Posts: 1853; Member since: Feb 22, 2012

you knowwhat Android is copy of Symbian & IOS get over ur false and foolish blamegame

54. Zero0

Posts: 592; Member since: Jul 05, 2012

The whole Scroogled thing was practically built by Microsoft from the start. Google Shopping wasn't based on ads until anti-trust suits started forming against Google's search expansion -- anti-trust suits endorsed by Microsoft. The solution was to change the service from a shopping search engine to a set of ads. And then Microsoft attacked. Google gets screwed either way.

39. nnaatthhaannx2

Posts: 820; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

I don't think there's that many MS fanboys.

43. MetroPhase

Posts: 12; Member since: Nov 24, 2012

The truth is MS "fanboys" rarely have time to be unproductive; we can't all become moguls if we're sitting behind screens slinging rubbish.

69. EclipseGSX

Posts: 1777; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

moguls? LMAO keep dreamin'

2. SamsungFan

Posts: 201; Member since: Apr 16, 2012

Do your thing but there is no use. Google will still be the number one

3. XPERIA-KNIGHT unregistered


8. eisenbricher

Posts: 973; Member since: Aug 09, 2012

MS has always been a dirty player in the game. No matter whether they win or loose, nobody feels sympathy for MS. Also, nobody will criticize them, as being rude has always been a part of MS' personality. Like a stereotype villain in some mainstream movie.

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