Former Clinton Advisor Masterminding Microsoft's Antitrust Attack on Google in DC
December 17, 2012 8:28 PM
Report in the NYT claims political vet is working to drag Google's name through the mud
Microsoft Corp. (
) learned the hard way in the 1990s that you don't want to be on the bad side of antitrust regulators. Now it's looking to
) a little yuletide surprise -- an invitation to that cruel world.
I. Microsoft Consultant to Consumers: Don't Get "Scroogled"
According to a
The New York Times
, Microsoft has hired a former advisor to President Bill Clinton to lead the multi-channel effort against Google. Mark Penn, 58, is the brains behind the operation.
His first work recently aired; a commercial attack Google for (supposedly) getting inaccurate search results. The commercial quip to consumers is "don't get scroogled".
Meanwhile, on The Hill, Mr. Penn is looking to make sure Google gets "scroogled" by federal regulators. He's noisily complaining to anyone who will listen about the supposedly abusive advertising behavior, which he and Microsoft claim Google uses to exclude smaller rivals like Microsoft from the search ad market.
Mr. Penn knows a thing or two about mixing facts and attacks. He was top paid pollster for President Clinton's 1996 successful reelection bid, helping the POTUS win over certain demographic sectors like "soccer moms". Afterwards, he kept on the Clinton train, helping with Hilary Clinton's unsuccessful, but high-profile 2008 presidential bid. He became perhaps best known for his stinging "3 a.m" commercial, which called into question whether President Obama had what it took to lead the country.
The DC vet was only forced out of the Clinton tent after it came to light that he did some controversial side work, lobbying for the government of Colombia. Mark Penn also raised some eyebrows after Facebook, Inc. (
) hired him to
do an underhanded attack against Google
A former colleague of the lobbyist/advocate tells
The New York Times
, "Google should be prepared for everything but the kitchen sink thrown at them. Actually, they should be prepared for the kitchen sink to be thrown at them, too."
II. Building a "SWAT Team"
Mr. Penn's assembled team in D.C. is small, but efficient. It contains some high profile names, including a former advisor to the Chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. The lobbyist/advertising consultant describes, "The concept is to create a SWAT team to work with the product teams on some of their toughest problems. If any of our competitors say things about us that we don’t think are true, we’re not going to sit on the sidelines. We’re going to pop them."
He's already been busy attacking Google on Twitter and other social media platforms.
Microsoft is surely hoping that the more aggressive turn breathes some life into its search efforts, which have been
bleeding money for over a decade
Mark Penn [Image Source: PRNewser]
There are some signs that his efforts are succeeding. Google is facing several
antitrust inquiries in the U.S.
, thanks in part to Microsoft's complaints. And a recent campaign highlighted that Google is now only featuring merchants in its shopping search who pay it to be listed surprised and angered consumers who were unaware of the change.
That's precisely the reaction Mr. Penn is looking for -- outrage and indignation. He's well aware that customers currently have a glowing image of Google and a less warm and fuzzy image of Microsoft (in many cases). But the DC veteran who attended Harvard University with Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer in the mid-1970s, and who consulted with Microsoft here-and-there through the 1990s is looking to step up to the plate and lead the software veteran's effort to change that impression.
When customers think Google, Mr. Penn wants them to think "scroogle".
The New York Times
"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings
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