Straight from the Kenneth Cole School of Capitalising On Human Suffering To Promote Your Brand comes Bing‘s #SupportJapan campaign, which this weekend offered to donate $1 to Japanese earthquake victims each time their original post was retweeted.
While many people dutifully retweeted the message, including US broadcaster Ryan Seacrest with his 4 million follower count, others were questioning why a charitable donation had to be dependent on promotion of the Microsoft search engine.
A #fuckbing hashtag quickly appeared with people commenting that they were appalled at Microsoft trading retweets for humanitarian aid (above) and suggesting that the company should just donate the money rather than try to gain publicity from the campaign.
Microsoft’s Corporate Citizenship page shows that the company moved quickly after the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan to offer support to the relief effort, suggesting ways in which people can use their software and technology to get their operations up and running again and linking to the disaster response charities. Unfortunately their marketing has let them down, giving the impression that their approach is purely cynical.
Several hours after the backlash began Bing issued a (sort of) apology which said the tweet had been negatively perceived and that they were going to donate $100k, which should go some way to allaying the critics.
And at least it didn’t make matters worse by deleting the original tweet, à la Sarah Palin. But it’s still going to stand as a textbook example of epic #BrandFail.