Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do - Microsoft

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do - Microsoft

Article excerpt

Computer software giant, bugged by federal antitrust efforts, seeks to rewrite the program, using newspaper campaigns

Microsoft Corp. is using newspapers in two different ways as it fights the federal court ruling that seeks to break up the company.

On June 9, two days after U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ordered that Microsoft be split into two separate parts, the company ran a full-page ad in a number of newspapers. The ad, in the form of a letter from company Chairman Bill Gates and President/CEO Steve Ballmer, argued that splitting the company would "impose crippling regulations ... and lead to less innovation, fewer choices, and higher prices for consumers."

The ad appeared in Microsoft's hometown papers, The Seattle Times and the Seattle Post- Intelligencer, as well as in USA Today, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News.

The ad is the third in a series of recent newspaper efforts that have followed major proceedings in the case. Ads also ran in early April, after Jackson ruled that Microsoft had violated antitrust laws, and in early May, after the judge announced that the U.S. Justice Department wanted to split up the company.

The newspaper ads complement a campaign prepared by McCann- Erickson/A&L, which includes TV commercials. The most recent one, launched June 11, features Bill Gates discussing the company's future.

Microsoft also has used newspapers in a letter-to-the-editor campaign. A company source acknowledged it hired DCI Group, a Washington public- relations firm, to solicit letters from people around the country. These letters then were sent to a variety of papers, including USA Today, The Washington Times, and The Des Moines (Iowa) Register. Microsoft and DCI Group declined to comment on the campaign. …

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