When anyone bemoans the prevalence of negative advertising in political campaigns, there’s an easy reply: It works. That’s not always true in the corporate world. Just take Microsoft’s ongoing blitz of attacks on Google, which launched last Thanksgiving under the cutesy tagline “Scroogled!”
The first batch of ads, alleging that Google allows companies to pay for better search results, was roundly criticized as hypocritical and "a joke." (Microsoft's parallel campaign, to convince the Federal Trade Commission that Google had crossed lines in using its search algorithm to favor its own content, was no more successful). The second, which says that Google is "going through your email" in order to better target ads, have been called patronizing, misleading, and "embarrassing." The latest—released on Valentine’s Day—hasn’t taken much of the criticism to heart. Sure, tech pundits aren't the people whose minds Microsoft is trying to change. But by the company’s own objective measure—the number of people who've signed their petition against Google's ad targeting—the campaign is a flop, with fewer than 6,000 signatures worldwide a week after the ads launched.