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bribe.jpgEdelman PR, the folks who brought you Wal-mart flogs, has a new ethics scandal brewing. And this time they’re in bed with Microsoft and a group of high-profile bloggers.
Edelman, is handling the launch of the new Microsoft Vista OS, and they’re running, and probably also conceived, a campaign to give a group of bloggers free Acer Ferrari 1000 and 5000 notebooks loaded with Microsoft’s new Vista. Retail value – $1899.99 – $2,299.99 for the computer, plus the cost of the software.
A group of high-profile bloggers started getting the gifts several days ago. Robert Scoble quipped, “Talk about Pay Per Post.”
The reason is simple. If you’ve ever tried to add a new Microsoft OS to an existing computer, you know you can’t do that without totally fucking up your computer. The only way to switch to a new Microsoft OS is to start with a new computer. And, of course, to wait a year or two while they get the kinks out.
Microsoft wouldn’t chance having dozens of bloggers writing about how VISTA screwed up their computers, so they installed the system on brand new computers. They gave the computers as gifts instead of lending them to the bloggers for review, which is the norm when dealing with traditional journalists.
Nobody has reported turning down or planning to send back the gifts. Scott Beale at Laughing Squid is joyful about his windfall. Long Zheng calls it “a nice Christmas giftMitch Denny is “giddy” about his Ferrari. Who’ll be the first to wipe off Vista and use the new laptop with the relatively stable XP? And will he or she admit it? Don’t count on it.
Sure bloggers are free to dis Vista if they don’t like it, and maybe some will. But the playing field would be more level if Microsoft just sent out free software instead of fancy free computers to sweeten the pot.
Journalist Dan Warne, News Editor at APC says in a comment on Zheng’s blog:

“This is a PR disaster for Microsoft. Within a few days it’ll be in every newspaper and tech publication in the world; I guarantee it.
It’s bizarre for one of the world’s largest PR companies, Edelman, to think it could get away with this. Perhaps they don’t know bloggers as well as they thought they did. As you’ve pointed out, Long, now that some of the bloggers have disclosed the receipt of the gift, the public knows. Whatever the subtleties of the offer were, it comes across as nothing more than a bribe, and that is a very bad look for Microsoft.”

Zheng’s retort, which is sure to bite him on the ass any minute now, was:

“Speaking about free stuff, I’d love some free Microsoft socks. You can never have enough socks! “