Microsoft Pulls Ad After Internet Faux Pas

A tit-for-tat ad campaign versus Apple blows up in Microsoft's face.
Microsoft removed a testimonial ad from its Web site Monday after it was discovered that the testimonial took some liberties with the truth.

The anonymous, first-person-style testimonial was written by a "freelance writer" who switched from Apple Computer's Macintosh to a Windows-based PC. Accompanying the published testimonial is the image of an earnest-looking brunette holding a coffee cup. Posters at, a technology news and discussion site, noticed that the photo is a Getty Images Inc. stock image.

Microsoft acknowledges that the image isn't of its customer, but says the ad wasn't meant to be misleading. "The story is from a commissioned person who is writing about her real experience. The picture is taken from Getty Images," a Microsoft spokeswoman says. "Any company uses photo images of people in those types of marketing formats."

By examining other documents at the site, The Associated Press ascertained that the testimonial writer was a woman named Valerie Mallinson who worked for public relations firm Rataushk & Associates Inc. The Microsoft spokeswoman confirmed that the company hired Rataushk to create the ad, but insists that it's an honest testimonial. The woman considers herself a freelance writer and did make the switch from Macintosh to Windows XP, she says. The claim appears to be backed up by Mallinson, who is quoted by AP as saying she made the switch.

Microsoft felt compelled to remove the controversial ad. "It wasn't the way the Windows product group wanted to communicate Windows XP," the spokeswoman says, adding that the ad was posted by a different group within Microsoft.

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