26 Aug
2009
Posted in: Design & Graphics
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Microsoft Ad Mistake, Microsoft Apologizes For Poor Judgment in Ad Design, Graphic Design Lesson

Microsoft, the largest software developer in the world made a big mistake today when posting a repeated ad campaign in another country, but with a slightly different twist.

The English version of the ad showed 3 people, an Asian man, a black man, and a white woman. The the same ad was repeated for Poland, but instead of having the black man in the the middle, they photoshopped his head out and replaced it with a white mans head. This was probably a poorly decided marketing strategy done due to the majority of the population being white in Poland. Now that is not a fact, but take a look at the numbers and tell me otherwise.

Click Images to view full size

Microsoft Ad Mistake_PolandMicrosoft Ad Mistake_USA

Being a designer, I know that this is a BIG MISTAKE! You never do something like this. And if you must, you make sure you are using one photograph that you own, and you only use it once. You cant make multiple manipulations to it. People will know that they have seen the image somewhere before and go back and try to compare what has changed.

Graphic designers and need to remember this also when purchasing stock photography. Since others can purchase and use the same image, it is likely someone will notice something is different if you manipulate the image and it is used publicly. Microsoft just help teach a valuable lesson to many graphic designers with their mistake in this ad campaign.

Race is a sensitive issue to mess around with in photographs and ads, be careful what you do to your images.

Below are the two ads that Microsoft had displayed for different countries –

Mistake Microsoft Ad

From CNN.com

SEATTLE, Washington (CNN) — Software giant Microsoft apologized Wednesday for the apparent bad judgment that led to the head of a black model being swapped for that of a white model in an online advertisement.
A black man in an online Microsoft ad was replaced with a white man, bottom, on the company’s Polish Web site.

The ad — which showed three business people, one Asian, one white and one black — was altered on Microsoft’s Web site for Poland to place the head of a white man on a black man’s body.

“We apologized, fixed the error and we are looking into how it happened,” said Lou Gellos, a Microsoft spokesman.

He said that because the company was still reviewing how the swap occurred he could not comment further.

On Microsoft’s official page on the social network site Twitter, a posting calls the swap “a marketing mistake” and offers “sincere apologies.”

The business Web site CNET.com, which first published reports of the swap, wrote that the change in models may have been made with the “racially homogeneous” Polish market in mind.

So, what do you think?