Edelman Clarifies Vista Giveaway

    December 28, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

The angst of bloggers who admitted to receiving choice AMD laptops loaded with Windows Vista received an injection of drama as PR firm Edelman has now asked for the goodies to be returned or given away after being reviewed.

Influence buying or effective buzz-building? Either way, the AMD and Microsoft giveaway has created a boatload of drama for people who have mainly written frequently about Microsoft products.

A little more background has emerged, in a way that makes it looks like one is observing a little snowball on top of a hill just before Calvin and Hobbes start it rolling towards Susie Derkins at the bottom. Robert McLaws blogged about the genesis of the giveaway, which may have started not with Microsoft, but with AMD:

When I was at Gnomedex this year, I was discussing the Featured Communities program with the AMD rep that was there. He told me that I should “keep an eye out” because “some cool hardware would be coming to Featured Communities at the end of the year.” My thought? SWEET. I love trying out new hardware.

Now, I don’t know if Microsoft is the one that initiated the deal, or if it was AMD. But what I do know is that it was initially an effort to get AMD computers in the hands of Microsoft enthusiasts, at a time when the processor wars are heating back up. Microsoft decided to add Vista after the fact. AMD decided to go beyond Featured Communities members, which is why others have gotten them too.

Going beyond those members to other bloggers has started a ranging discussion of integrity and ethical behavior. It appears Microsoft wanted to get Vista in front of a number of opinion makers, pre-configured on a piece of hardware that should be able to run it effectively, and let them discuss it as they saw fit.

No good deed goes unpunished, as the saying goes (and we’ll see again in a moment.) McLaws made the point that many of those who have criticized the largesse have likely accepted their share of comped lunches, trips, or conferences in their careers.

Then the PR agency behind the giveaway, Edelman, stepped into the mix. Ex-TechCrunch writer Marshall Kirkpatrick revealed a note passed along to him from the PR firm:

No good deed goes unpunished, right? You may have seen that other bloggers got review machines as well. Some of that coverage was not factual. As you write your review I just wanted to emphasize that this is a review pc. I strongly recommend you disclose that we sent you this machine for review, and I hope you give your honest opinions. Just to make sure there is no misunderstanding of our intentions I’m going to ask that you either give the pc away or send it back when you no longer need it for product reviews.

There are probably quite a few people who received a tricked-out AMD Ferrari loaded with Vista and haven’t mentioned it on their blogs. They probably won’t now, either, which is a shame because a simple disclosure along the lines of “I received a Vista machine for review with no strings attached” should be sufficient to inform regular readers about the situation, without all the attendant Death Cab For Cutie-tinged drama.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.