Way to go, Microsoft affiliate.

So…I assume you’ve seen this, right? We all have, haven’t we? To be fair, it isn’t MS directly that did this, but an affiliate in Norway for the developers conference. Wacky Vikings. Still, Twitter blew up over this (which, I believe, is the constant state of Twitter). And now MS Azure is hunting down the culprits so they can do whatever it is that Microsoft does when someone else embarrasses them publicly. I’m not sure what that is, exactly. Maybe release the Clippy?

I’m writing about it because it seems that this happens to companies WAY too often. Either it’s an internal marketing department, an external contracted marketing endeavor, or from a third party affiliate. Someone, somewhere, makes the decision that this is a “Good Idea.” Then someone else, or a group of them, executes that idea. Nowhere in the process does anyone say, “Um, wait? Isn’t this a little weird?” Then the event happens, or the commercial is made, or whatever…and then the mad scramble is on to control the damage. Why? Why does it happen in the first place, and why do we all go completely bonkers about it in the second?

I blame the 24 hour news cycle.

There’s an old joke about the driver who gets out of his car and asks the policeman “May I park here?” The policeman shakes his head, and the driver objects “But all these other guys are parked here!” The policeman replies “They didn’t ask.” So you’re a Microsoft affiliate, and you’ve got this great idea for a great show. You could ask Marketing, but you know what happens to Dilbert when he talks to Marketing. (Marketing often gets a bad rap. I really like the Marketing group at my company.) So the affiliate doesn’t ask, but goes ahead with the great idea. Besides, it’s a funny joke if you’re a geek, right? And surely we’re no longer surprised that song or rap lyrics can be explicit, or that cultural attitudes differ widely across international boundaries? America is more stodgy and conservative than most European countries, and Europeans often roll their eyes when Americans make a big deal out of something like this.

Still, the author was just the latest in a long line of victims who discover how quickly “a little thing” can virally morph into a big thing. Certainly it’s embarrassing to Microsoft.