Microsoft forced to apologise after download Amy Winehouse tweet

Microsoft has shot itself in the foot (again) on Twitter, by rushing to offer Amy Winehouse fans the chance to download her music from Microsoft as they mourn her passing.

The @tweetbox360 Twitter account, which is run by the Microsoft UK PR team, tweeted this morning: “Remember Amy Winehouse by downloading the ground-breaking ‘Back to Black’ over at Zune”.

The account has since been inundated with complaints. It has been accused of (among other things) of being opportunistic, of feeding on Amy Winehouse’s corpse, of appalling taste and of shocking marketing. Yes, one or two did ask if it had hired an intern to tweet.

One Twitter user Stuart Houghton saw his tweet retweeted more than 80 times alone, after he wrote: “Stay classy, Microsoft PR jackals RT @tweetbox360: Remember Amy Winehouse by downloading the ground-breaking ‘Back to Black’ over at Zune”.

In response Microsoft tweeted a couple of apologies: “Apologies to everyone if our earlier Amy Winehouse ‘download’ tweet seemed purely commercially motivated. Far from the case, we assure you. With Amy W’s passing, the world has lost a huge talent. Our thoughts are with Amy’s family and friends at this very sad time.”

However, these haven’t stopped the complaints coming in and have led to the account being accused to “backpedalling after making PR blunder”.

It isn’t the first time that Microsoft has been accused of of capitalising on human suffering to promote its brand. Bing launched the #SupportJapan campaign, in the wake of the Japanese tsunami that offered to donate $1 to Japanese earthquake victims each time their original post was retweeted.

Some tweeter did also point out that the Apple iTunes Store has since Winehouse died had her featured prominently on its homepage. Is that any different?

Apple isn’t the only one. Some tweeted a post on the Huffington Post that was running with the headline: “Amy Winehouse’s Untimely Death Is a Wake Up Call for Small Business Owners”.

  • Tom Callow

    Both could have done something more meaningful and said that the profits for any Amy Winehouse downloads this week would go to someone like Addaction etc…

  • Paul Rayment

    Good point from Tom Callow but I seem to find this also comes from the anti-Microsoft agenda.

    This album is also being promoted on iTunes storefront (as mentioned) and every other online and High Street music store. Do people complain that Apple shouldn’t have it pushed on iTunes? Apple even ramped the price up (used to be under a fiver).

    But no, Apple is still seen as some sort of hippie startup. They aren’t, they are bloody massive!

  • Req

    The weekend after Barry White died, HMV (at which I worked at the time) would move a boatload of Barry White CDs to the front of the store. They did it every time an artist died. Just like iTunes’ feature.

    Why is Microsoft’s version any different? Because tweets seem more personal? Because of the manner of which Microsoft worded the tweet? Because HMV and Apple weren’t coming right out and being in your face about it? It does seem tasteless but essentially it’s the same thing.

    My manager at the time remarked that it was a bit odd that fans would all suddenly rush out and buy an artist’s work because they’re all of a sudden ‘a bit sad about it’. But that’s what happens.

  • Delphine Remy-Boutang

    By simply adding on their tweet something like “All profits of those downloads will go to Anti-Drugs charity” they could have turned it into a social and respected campaign…

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  • Diana Rajchel

    People hate Microsoft, and have ever since 3.1 made you put the disks in back and forth on the install. I know I’m never going to “unlearn” that experience, and while Microsoft does do good things, it’s got a bad rap that it also earned. There IS a double standard, absolutely – and because MS still lacks perspective (as evidenced by those godawful “I’m a PC” campaigns – not all PCs use Microsoft!) it’s going to stumble more than it steps.

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  • Mungojerrie

    True fans of any artist will have copies of their music already, so why are others ‘rushing’ to own it once they have gone? I didn’t particularly like Barry White’s music while he was alive, for instance, and certainly didn’t suddenly develop an aching need to own or hear it as soon as he died, so this really mystifies me!

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  • Dunstan Bentley

    I have no Apple bias here but the difference between the way Apple did it and Microsoft did it is huge. It’s all in treatment and the delivery

    Apple: Remembering Amy Winehouse (with a pic of Amy in her prime)

    The virtual way of the moving CD’s the front of the store. Not promoting a particular product, just a picture of the artist. No call to action to buy. Also you only saw it if you were already in the iTunes store (and I was and initially thought that it wasn’t the most tasteful thing in the world)

    Until I saw this…


    Remember Amy Winehouse by downloading the ground-breaking ‘Back to Black’ over at Zune”.

    Out and out direct marketing using a social media platform – A blatent call to action buy a particular product AT THEIR STORE in order to remember a dead artist. Nice…

    The way Apple did it was way less offensive than Microsoft. So, comparing the two is not like comparing apples with apples (If you pardon the pun)

    And don’t get me started on the Huffpost thing. Ridiculous…

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