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Microsoft Blows Ad Campaign by Swapping Heads

Posted on August 26, 2009 by Jeff

“They're (Microsoft) not racists at heart - they're just being racist as it makes good business sense. They're business racists.” – Joe McCann 2009

We’ve all submitted projects that weren’t exactly our best effort.  Yes, even you.  Once your initial response of  “not me, that's not something I would ever do", wears off, go ahead and raise your hand.  Join the rest of us that have, at times, continued the time honored tradition of cramming the night before a deadline.  This tradition I’m referencing inevitably leads to mistakes, errors or at least the quality one could have delivered.   Seems someone(s) at Microsoft may have been practicing this tradition prior to releasing a recent ad campaign.  I’m not saying this is what happened here, but at least it would be some sort of excuse. The specifics are detailed by Bobbie Johnson in his article, Microsoft apologises over race-swap gaffe.

Original Advertisement


The original version of a photo Microsoft later doctored for Polish users



Photoshop Version of Advertisement


Microsoft's doctored advert was shown to users in Poland



I've noted what I believe to be the painfully obvious, but somewhere along the lines Microsoft didn't seem to pick up on the following:

    • The evident; don’t swap one head for another regardless of race. That’s akin to the adult entertainment industry.


    • If you’re going to “touch up” skin color, make sure you address the face to hand skin tones.


    • When you work for a company as recognizable as Microsoft, try not to use an image that includes your top competitors’ more recognizable laptop.


In an effort to tie this to some kind of applicable business observation, I find myself circling back to much of Gordian Project’s current internal dialogue. Long story short, no matter where you find yourself in the company, what you do every day impacts not only the opportunity you have with the company, but the company’s ability to provide you opportunity. 

I’m interested in what you find most baffling about this Photoshop disaster… 


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