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Microsoft in hot water over photoshopped ad

By Paul Jay, CBCNews.ca.

Software giant Microsoft has apologized after it was discovered that an ad on Microsoft's Polish business unit had altered a photo of a group of three people sitting at a boardroom table, changing the race of one of the people from black to white.

The ad featured two men, one Asian and one black, and one white woman seated at a conference table. In the Polish version of the ad, the black man's head was replaced by a white man's head, though the colour of his hands remained unchanged.

"We are looking into the details of this situation," Microsoft spokesperson Lou Gellos said in a statement Tuesday. "We apologize and are in the process of pulling down the image."

Bloggers have criticized the ad, with some arguing Poland's ethnic homogeneity might have played a role in the change. The gaffe has also inspired parodies on technology blogs such as Gizmodo and TechCrunch.

These days technology and marketing experts say the online world is moving towards more personal advertisements, focused on the specific tastes, geographic location and demographics of the user. But somehow, though, I don't think this ad is what they had in mind.

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Comments

Matt Innes

I'm having a hard time seeing what the fuss is about.

A little thought experiment: If Microsoft had created a whole new ad with all white models for the Polish market, would that have been ok? I just had a look at the Microsoft Hong Kong website and all the people in the pictures are Asian. Is that ok?

Are we objecting to the fact that they have tailored their advertising to their market, or just the fact that they've done it cheaply and semi-incompetently?

Posted August 26, 2009 12:59 PM

Bill

Any publicity is good publicity.

Posted August 27, 2009 10:59 AM

Vince

Canada

So what's new?

Microsoft has been copying Apple for years. This is just another form of their plagiarism.

Posted August 27, 2009 03:25 PM

Dave D

GTA

That's nothing, they submitted a fake video in _court_ during their antitrust trial.

In this case they are obviously working on the quota system: one black, one white, one Asian, at least one man, at least one woman. The quota in Poland may be different than that in North America.

Posted August 27, 2009 07:20 PM

Andrew

People are way to jumpy latley..... the ad was just being tailored to the target demographic..... kinda funny that they forgot to change his hands in fact....

Posted August 28, 2009 09:46 AM

Mike

Edmonton

Microsoft is not in "hot water" and has nothing to apologise for. One of the toughest PR tasks faced by multinational enterprises is "tuning in" promotional campaigns to the cultural and yes, racial, nuances of differing national markets so as to not convey too much of a "foreign head office" influence. Microsoft's Polish subsidiary was obviously attempting something along those lines. I won't say that this particular effort was as well thought out and executed as it might have been, but it hardly qualifies as fodder for sensational headlines.

Posted August 28, 2009 06:22 PM

Steve

They forgot to photoshop the white Mac book out of the picture.

Posted August 30, 2009 11:39 PM

GDUB

HK

@Matt Innes

"We" are objecting to the cheapness and incompetence. I'm not sure how you distinguish between "semi-incompetence" and "full-on incompetence". Did they use Asian models for that Hong Kong ad you saw? Or did they just paste Asian heads on top of bodies with tanned hands?

There's something insulting about cutting out someone's face or head, don't you think?

Posted August 31, 2009 04:14 AM

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