Microsoft's "Scroogled" Smear Campaign Is Getting Out Of Hand

It’s not like companies don’t sometimes launch “anti” ad campaigns where they sandbag the competition and point out all the other guy’s flaws, but it's a risky tactic that can backfire. That may be happening with Microsoft’s rather bizarre anti-Googlescroogled” campaign, which is getting a little out of hand.

The latest attack from Microsoft is levelled at chromebooks, and it takes the form of a video the company made and posted that shows the “Pawn Stars” guys mocking a woman for trying to get some money for a chromebook.

“Because chromebook applications are web-based, when you’re not connected, it’s pretty much a brick.” Rick goes on to note that it doesn’t have Windows or Office and that it’s not a real laptop. Then he accuses Google of targeted advertising, but the company isn’t particularly trying to hide the fact that it engages in the practice.

Aside from how awkwardly Microsoft is swinging at Google here, they’re mixing in facts with half-truths. For example, it’s true that Chrome OS is browser-based and relies on an Internet connection for most of its functionality, but it’s not true that it’s a “brick” without one. There are many applications that run offline, including Google Docs. (We have a more detailed assessment of Chrome OS coming in a review soon. Stay tuned for that.)

Further, the fact that it’s a woman in the video who’s clueless about technology, whose mom is even more clueless, is a quietly insidious dig that I could have done without.

Mac vs PC
Actually funny

The whole scroogled thing is something of a head-scratcher. My best guess is that Microsoft is trying to do to Google what Apple did to Microsoft a few years ago with the iconic “Mac vs. PC” ads. The difference is that in those ads, John Hodgman was hilarious (and Justin Long was funny enough), while Rick and Co. from “Pawn Stars” aren’t. (Entertaining, yes; funny, no.)

It’s worth noting, though, that while those ads seemed to propel the popularity of the Macs, it also made Apple seem pretentious, which turned off a lot of would-be users.

Microsoft receives a lot of criticism despite making a host of excellent and compelling products, but one thing the company has never been is cool. It’s trying to be clever and edgy with the scroogled stuff, but it’s not working and is making Microsoft seem small and backwards.