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
agency Razorfish. 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
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.
Bing has become known for pushing the envelope in marketing to
build a brand in a search market synonymous with Google. But after
some modest growth in market share, Microsoft has now cleared away
the public faces of brand Bing in a public way. At Bing's outset,
Microsoft signaled that no price was too high to win at search, but
with procurement violations pushing out the architects of the work
that 's gotten Bing noticed, that may no longer be the case.
After announcing the departures unprompted, Microsoft chose not
to comment when Ad Age followed up with additional questions about
the violations. Messrs. Hadley and Carver declined to comment.
Messrs. Hadley and Carver were the bold-face names associated
with some of Microsoft's most high-profile marketing, including
celebrity tie-ups with Jay -Z and LeBron James. And they weren't
adept only at getting buzz for Bing. The pair had produced a short
film with Creative Artists Agency about Dr. Richard J. Bing, who
had written to Microsoft about his 100th birthday. The film made
its debut at Sundance in 2010, and Mr. Carver later enlisted
Seattle-based boutique Neverstop to create a Wikipedia page for the
film -- "for personal reasons to get Hadley and [myself] PR," wrote
Mr. Carver in an email obtained by Ad Age . Neverstop also produced
the lavish Bing Bar at Sundance.
Mr. Hadley, in particular, had drawn a lot of attention for his
work for Bing, much of which has been highly awarded. For Bing's
role in Jay -Z's book launch at an exclusive hotel in Miami's South
Beach, Mr. Hadley was called "Microsoft's Mr. Fun" and Bill Gates'
opposite by the Daily Beast in late 2010.
Swagger or not, Mr. Hadley has produced work held up as the gold
standard in marketing. In the past 12 months he was honored as an
Ad Age Media Maven and inducted into the AAF's Hall of Achievement.
He has been quick to back up high-profile campaigns with data,
especially since his former company was largely driven by it. Of
the Jay -Z deal, he has pointed out that young people and
African-Americans are the most active demographics in search; 18-
to 24-year-olds consume 61% more search pages than average and
African-Americans 29% more.
People wonder whether the strategy that began under chief
marketer Yusuf Mehdi, who left the online-services division for the
entertainment group, including Xbox, in November, will continue. He
had encouraged the Bing team to do bold marketing with the
understanding that it would take more than just display, search and
TV ads to win market share in such a competitive space.
But that kind of marketing is , of course, harder to measure.
Bing Bar, for example, was an expensive endeavor, though it was
meant to generate entertainment-oriented content that could be used
throughout the year to push concepts such as Bing Music, which ties
in Microsoft's Zune music player, according to someone familiar
with Bing's marketing strategy.
"Measuring cultural impact is a very tough thing to do and,
unfortunately, that 's the part that gets thrown out when talking
about ROI," said Steve Stoute, founder of agency Translation and a
friend of Mr. Hadley.
The departures have raised questions about whether Bing will
continue to push that envelope.
"I think the [Bing] team understands, and heard loud and clear
from leadership that there's lots of work to do and that change is
omnipresent in any business," said Adam Sohn, Bing's general
manager for communications and influencer marketing.
Bing marketing will now be led by Microsoft-lifer Mike Nichols.
He joined Microsoft in 1996 in product marketing, where he's worked
with engineers on product features for Office, Internet Explorer,
MSN and now Bing. While h was a part of the online-services
department even before Bing was invented, he was not hands-on with
partners launching the brand or with more recent ad efforts.
Under Mr. Nichols, Bing will continue to support the "Bing Is
for Doing" campaign through early summer, Mr. Sohn said. It will
also continue to work with its main agencies, Razorfish and
spent $118 million in U.S. measured media for just the Bing brand
in 2010, according to Ad Age DataCenter.
"You have to manage change in any business," Mr. Sohn said. "I
don't see the changes in the team leading to any real strategy
He says there are no plans yet to ditch the innovative,
celebrity-laden stuff that 's won big on the ad-awards circuit.
It's not yet been decided if Bing will be returning to Sundance in
2013. "We'll continue with the harder working, more traditional
marketing to show people the product," Mr. Sohn said.