Microsoft says it's sorry for behaving heartlessly

Microsoft’s marketing department has found itself in hot water by trying to squeeze a bit of publicity out of the Japanese earthquake.

Over the weekend, Redmond’s Twitter account dedicated to its search engine, Bing, was sending out Twits about the Quake. The best one was “How you can #SupportJapan – For every retweet, @bing will give $1 to Japan quake victims, up to $100K. Try Bing. A new way to search, explore, & decide.”

Redmond’s corporate policy is to be sympathetic to the plight of one of its largest markets advertising on the back of one of the world’s biggest earthquake disasters is as sensitive as a brick wall.

Marketing people tend to believe that what ever they are doing is absolutely right, so they might have been a little surprised when other Tweets on the network suggested that they were rather tasteless.

“Oh yes, of course. @Bing turn the largest earthquake on record to hit #Japan into a marketing opportunity. Nice work, Microsoft,” tweeted one.

Comic Michael Ian Black sent this message to his 1.6 million Twitter followers, according to Venture Beat:

How about they just give the money and shut up? RT @Alyssa_Milano For every RT, @bing will give $1 to quake victims, up to $100K

Seven hours after the first tweet it seemed that someone in Microsoft had seen its PR own goal and started flinging chairs about.

Redmond sent this apology:

“We apologise the tweet was negatively perceived. Intent was to provide an easy way for people to help Japan. We have donated $100K”.

With that sort of PR stew we would have thought that Redmond would have put a few more zeros on it, rather than the zeros who came up with the idea.