If you are tasked with promoting Bing at Sundance, and you want to make a splash, what do you do? Well, if you are now-fired Eric Hadley you build a three-story party palace, replete with drinks, and celebrities. That’ll do the trick.
The only problem is that that action and several others led to Hadley being given the boot. Hadley was fired recently, along with Sean Carver for what we distilled to be ethics violations. They were executives on the Bing team, charged with handling its marketing. Bing has built a reputation for intense, high-powered marketing tactics designed to grab attention, and paint Bing as something colorful, compared to a potentially sterile Google.
The experts at AdAge managed to scare up the details of story:
An internal investigation turned up a list of violations, which Ad Age has learned included problems with line items and dates on purchase orders related to the three-story Bing Bar in Park City, Utah –Microsoft’s‘s celeb hangout during the Sundance Film Festival. This year, the space hosted performances from Drake and Jason Mraz, appearances by Paul Simon and Neil Young, catered food and an open bar.
Another incident cited in the list of violations involved the Bing marketing team paying Co Collective, which was not a Microsoft-approved vendor, a $1-million-plus fee through longtime agencyRazorfish. The Bing team had worked with Co founders Rosemarie Ryan and Ty Montague, when they were at JWT to launch Bing in 2009 and, as Ad Age reported, were eager to tap their new venture to refresh the brand.
A third violation involved a first-class flight Mr. Carver took from New York to Seattle; Mr. Carver was not supposed to fly first class but Mr. Hadley approved the flight despite not having the authority to do so.
Looking at this list, I doubt that the flight is that big of a deal. In terms of dollar cost, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the other infractions. But this does highlight a certain fact: Microsoft’s budget for Bing is not endless, as we had suspected. Now, what comes next is a rather important question. As we noted in our previous coverage: “it will be interesting to see how Microsoft rebuilds the team that it has thus beheaded, and if those changes in personnel will lead to a recast of its strategies.”
What’s next for Bing, as it looks to expand its market share, is up for speculation, but I think that the people who plan the search engine’s next party will keep the party coach, an only two floors high.