Volvo Trucks' commercial featuring Jean Claude Van Damme's "Epic Split" video
is at 59.6 million views and counting on YouTube.
But contrary to popular belief, it wasn't the most interesting piece of advertising in 2013.
That title belongs to Microsoft's
(NASDAQ:MSFT) Scroogled campaign, which aims to turn the tide of public opinion against Google
(NASDAQ:GOOG) in the style of classic Washington DC attack politics.
serves as a central clearing house of everything bad you could possibly say about Google products and services, including but not limited to:
1. The limited functionality of Google Chromebooks, which can do very few things when offline and which can't run full-featured programs like Microsoft Office and Adobe
2. Google's scanning of emails and insertion of ads in Gmail.
3. The lack of an ad-free Google search for schools.
4. Sharing of personal information with Android app makers without a clear warning.
5. Google accepting payment from advertisers for improved placement on Google Shopping.
So if the Google cafeteria serves up some lousy tuna melts on Friday, believe me, it's going to end up on Scroogled.com.
Along the way, Microsoft provides comparisons to its own products, which are shown as warmer and fuzzier in comparison:
Microsoft is also running ScroogledNews.com
, which compiles alleged Google misdeeds and describes itself as "your source for everything about the stark differences between what Google says and what Google does, and what you can do to take a stand against it."
Assuming It's All True
On Scroogled.com, Microsoft takes a few cheap shots here and there.
For example, it harps on about Chromebooks' inability to properly display Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files, even though common sense tells us that anyone who cares about Office would never consider a Chromebook in the first place.
And as far as the privacy stuff goes, Microsoft was the first tech giant to cooperate with the government on the controversial PRISM program. (Google and others joined later.)
But for the sake of argument, let's say that everything Microsoft is saying about Google is 100% true.
Let's assume Google is the pure embodiment of technological evil, a Big Brother bent on getting its hands on all of our private information in order to serve up more lucrative ads.
The reality is...
In a world where privacy is truly valued, a Facebook
(NASDAQ:FB) with 1.2 billion users -- many of whom share all their personal information under their real identities -- would not exist.
What does Facebook know about me? Well, through what I entered on my profile, it knows my name, where I work, where I went to high school, that I'm single, and my religious views.
But what about the stuff I post? Well, if we include that stuff, Facebook also knows when my mother died, that I'm selling a used camera, the route I walk home, where I went on vacation over the summer, and that I use Tumblr more than Instagram.
That doesn't even include my private messages, which contain all sorts of juicy information about my personal life.
How many people voluntarily give up all their personal information on Twitter
(NYSE:TWTR), Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn
I think it's a lot.
Facebook grew users by 18% last quarter. LinkedIn's were up 38% to 259 million. And Twitter's rose 38% to 232 million.
A New Age
There's little chance that Microsoft's attacks on Google are going to work.
First, they're not new.
Gmail raised privacy concerns when it launched back in 2004.
Do you not remember headlines like Perspective: Why Gmail Gives Me the Creeps
How about Google's Gmail Faces Trademark, Privacy Challenges?
And you know what? At the end of the day, nobody cared. In fact, there was a feeding frenzy for Gmail addresses, which for a brief period were invite-only.
Unlike its competitors, Gmail was fast, efficient, and gave you a ton of storage. Its quality and the cool factor of the Google brand bought forgiveness.
And all along the way, Google has faced privacy challenges, and people have never stopped using its services.
The Silent Majority Is What Counts
Microsoft may do itself more harm than good with Scroogled, because it's whining about issues with Google that the silent majority just doesn't care or think about. Unless governments actually step in and proactively disrupt Google's business, this is all just a bunch of nagging.
There's also an issue of sour grapes. Google eats up so much of the Internet and mobile pies, and with Chromebooks, it's making a preliminary run at tackling Windows
. Hardcore PC users laugh at the idea of Chromebooks gaining meaningful traction, but if you think about how people actually use computers these days (media consumption, social sharing, etc.), it's not out of the realm of possibility.
One thing to note, though: This campaign may show that Microsoft views Google -- not Apple
(NASDAQ:AAPL) -- as its true enemy.
Do the Math
Ex-traffic acquisition costs, Google made less than $2 billion in revenue in 2004.
In 2012, it did over $40 billion.
Still think anyone cares about any of this privacy stuff?
Qualcomm's Android-Capable Answer to Apple's iBeacon
Is Nokia Dipping Its Toe in Android Waters?
Will Apple 'Deck' the Competition's Sales This Holiday?