Microsoft got caught with their hand in the cookie jar Tuesday when a PR rep accidentally offered to pay Michael Arrington— founder of TechCrunch — to hype up Internet Explorer, the company’s web browser.
“This is just layers of stupid,” Arrington wrote on uncrunched.com.
Sponsored content has become an unfortunate byproduct of the new media landscape. Andrew Sullivan recently criticised the practice at a Harvard event.
“You think you’re reading a writer when you’re actually reading a copy-writer,” he said.
Sullivan suggested the rise of sponsored content would eventually backfire, resulting in a wave of reader cynicism that would diminish its popularity as a marketing tool.
Here’s the the pitch Microsoft’s PR rep made to Arrington:
To which Arrington responded, incredulously:
Twitter reacted with amusement:
We’ve reached out to Microsoft for comment but have yet to hear back, though the company told TechCrunch through a spokesman it had “suspended” the sponsored content program.
The practice “is not representative of the way Microsoft works with bloggers or other members of the media,” the spokesman said.
It might be best to remain sceptical of any writing on IE before July 10, especially if it uses the #IEbloggers hashtag.