Microsoft apologizes after Japan Twitter backlash

By Tom Warren, on 13th Mar 11 10:21 am with 20 Comments

Microsoft was forced to issue an apology after being accused of using the Japan quake disaster as a chance to market its Bing search engine.

The software giant pledged to give $1 to Japan quake victims for every re-tweet of the following message:

Bing's retweet message

The URL pointed towards Microsoft’s Corporate Citizenship page detailing how to use Bing Maps and other services to help with the disaster. The tweet didn’t go down well as some Twitter users accused Microsoft of using a human disaster to market Bing. “Lemme get this straight. @bing is using#japantragedy to market on twitter, requiring RT’s for donations? And only up to $100k? #epicfail,” wrote Ethan A. Maffey. Comedian Michael Ian Black, who has over 1.5 million Twitter followers according to Venture Beat, also expressed his disgust with this tweet: “Hey @ bing, stop using a tragedy as a fucking marketing opportunity.”

A flurry of similar messages appeared on Twitter and seven hours later, Bing was forced to apologize with the following tweet:

Bing's apology

Microsoft has now donated $100,000 to the Japan quake disaster fund. A powerful 8.9-magnitude earthquake and Tsunami devastated Northern Japan after striking the country on Friday afternoon. The aftermath and scenes of distribution are incredibly tragic. The toll of human life is still unknown whilst the country deals with strong aftershocks and a massive clean-up operation. International governments worldwide have pledged relief packages and their condolences. Microsoft is working with the Red Cross in Japan and other key local NGOs to assist the country’s relief efforts. At this time our thoughts and prayers are with every single citizen of Japan. America’s Red Cross is accepting donations for Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami relief. Individuals can text ‘REDCROSS’ to 90999 to donate $10 from their phones.

  • GP007

    What? Oh come on, wtf? What’s with this bias double standard. What about Google doing it’s thing? How is that different exactly? This is stupid.

    • Loser

      It’s stupid to use the tragedy of the Japanese quake to promote your company, especially when you don’t have to. Microsoft was clearly hoping to get more than $100K worth of advertising out of this stunt, and I’m happy to see it backfire.

      Is Google doing the same thing? If so, then they should be condemned. No company should be using this disaster as a way to advertise, it’s in bad taste. Not Microsoft, Google or any body else. In this case the cynical ploy from Microsoft was obvious enough to make people take notice.

    • GP007

      I don’t agree fully, it’s a co’s name and brand recognition through advertising that can get people to take notice and donate. Google has it’s little people finder service going which I haven’t checked out personaly for ads or not but the Google brand itself is a big fat ad. Using your logic they’re taking advantage just the same by offering a service that pushes people to use Google.

      If they really wanted to they could have just as well donated money and called it a day, but why not do more even if you do get something out of it? There’s a plus side to helping, if some co shows up and gives you free food and supplies you take notice, it’s just another form of marketing either way. If people are helped in the end why does it really matter? And why are the ones bitching about this not doing anything? Have they donated any money out of their pockets yet? I doubt it. The hypocrisy is so thick you’d need a chainsaw to try and cut through it in todays world.

    • Anonymous

      And Google’s service is a crap redundancy of an already existing Japanese people locator service so Google isn’t being 100% noble in this either.

      Come one, the brand recognition advertises for them. Is it OK if Nike sends a bunch of shoes and shirts with the swoosh on them for help? Help is help and retweeting gets the message out to more than just those following Bing.

      Epic Fail @ the zombies who think they’ll get intent out of 140 characters or less. I don’t see anyone RT’ing Gates and all the nice things he does for the world. Anti-Microsoft bias as usual. Show me one thing Microsoft has done that the populace has thought was wrong and I’ll show you two Apple and Google did that were the exact same thing.

  • Batty

    Last I checked, Japan wasn’t accepting aid from the American Red Cross either.

    • Tom W

      Very true, they’re on “standby”.

  • Milan

    Yes and what for it the help that. Certainly it not correctly to earn on such, but everyone to turn as can on it blogs there are articles on a similar theme.

  • Thomas Kuo

    How is a tweet helping them promote @bing??? Does anyone actually know what social networking is about? The purpose of retweet is akin to a voting method of showing the VAST amount of support behind the SAID statement. If I said I’d like to donate $1 for every retweet I get, am I promoting myself? What am I promoting? My good looks? If individual does it, it’s humanitarian, but if Microsoft does it, it’s business? Come on… Quit the double standard. All Microsoft was trying to do was capture the humanitarian spirit by spurring people on the social network that otherwise WOULDN”T GIVE A DAMN PENNY TO HELP A GOOD CAUSE!!!

  • Antonio Raga

    The hypocricy of people complaining about Bing behaviour in this specific case is really annoying.
    Don’t you remember Apple, spamming its iPads to Chile miners?
    And what about Google spamming its Google Earth and Google Maps “services”?
    Oh, let me get it: Google is “good”, Microsoft is not!
    Please grow up!

  • Vnguyen1

    Apple and itunes set up to help Japan too!

    No backlash?

  • Drose

    Bill Gates of Microsoft (and Warren Buffett) have given more to charity than each and every person complaining and their families combined. Likely this $100k will exceed the contributions of them on this particular incident as well.

    Every time a business gives money they do so in the name of the business. We have all seen the huge cardboard checks being given out, the “brought to you by” messages in ads on radio/tv, and even logos printed on the back of shirts. IT IS THE SAME THING. The only thing maybe they COULD have done different is say “you tweet your donation and we will match it”. I don’t think asking people to “say your name for $1″ that goes to the victims is out of line.

  • Karl Cramer

    Hey, Michael Ian Black, when you donate $100,000 in relief you can tell Bing to shut up. Until then, be quiet.

  • Marc Le Marque

    so cynical…I will not be retweeting to benefit MICROSOFT!

  • Vnguyen1

    Still waiting for apple to apologize, or is Mircosoft the only evil company?

  • ElGuido

    It’s not really an apology though, is it?

  • Anonymous

    It’s Microsoft for crying out loud, they’ll grab any chance to promote their own search engine. They are marketing masters what else is new.

  • Madebymatt

    I’m not a Microsoft fan. But help is help even if they get a return on it who cares. At least they are giving.

  • zouhair

    Tmrw i have a midterm exam in the corporate communication class about microsoft behavior.
    Thx for you comments i believe it’s going to help me in my exam.

  • Max534

    Yeah… very interesting. I’ve came to the ALTERNATE INTERNET!
    The place where everything Microsoft does is good, even when they’re scavenging.
    And every other company is evil, because… just because.

  • yg

    You MS haters go fuck ur selves and suck Steve jobs cock too while ur at it. Oh yeah and if MS didn’t bail Apple out of their financial trouble in the 90′s Apple would be dead right now so fuck off