Hostile Positioning is a unique approach but can be offensive to a certain portion of the market…


Over at The New Republic, Lydia Depillis has a good piece on Microsoft’s “Scroogled” campaign, which has moved on from sniping at Google Shopping to charge Gmail with invading its users’ privacy because it scans their e-mail for keywords it can use to display advertising. The ads leave me cold — I find them patronizing and creepy, and generally more damaging to Microsoft’s image than Google’s — and reading her story helped me understand why Microsoft went down this road, and why it’s a bad idea:

Negative ads, as much as politicians might decry them, can have a devastating effect when deployed in a tight race, like last year’s Iowa Republican primary. Perhaps with this in mind, Microsoft hired ex-Clintonite Mark Penn, who pioneered the practice of micro-targeting ads based on consumer behavior, to work his black magic on Google. Penn, however, seems to not have recognized that there are…

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