LAST CALL: Microsoft makes slipup in trying to bite back at Apple

Sounds as though Microsoft could use a "Trustworthy Testimonies" campaign to compliment its "Trustworthy Computing" campaign. But don't blame the PR agency.

Sounds as though Microsoft could use a "Trustworthy Testimonies" campaign to compliment its "Trustworthy Computing" campaign. But don't blame the PR agency.

When Apple unveiled its high-profile "Switcher" ad campaign, Microsoft tried to fight fire with fire. But it just ended up burning itself in a PR nightmare.

The software giant that Bill built decked its website with a testimonial from a former Apple user who had merrily switched to Microsoft.

As it turns out, the convert in question was one Valerie Mallinson, an employee of Wes Rataushk & Associates, a marketing communications firm retained by Microsoft.

And it may have been Mallinson's words, as she swears that she truly is a Microsoft devotee, but the accompanying photo turned out to be a stock image that could double for the cover of a Pottery Barn catalogue.

The company yanked the blurb from its website after internet reporters uncovered the blunder. And though Microsoft declined to comment on it, the company did tell CNET - one of many sites to gleefully report on the snafu - that the ad was a mistake. Coverage ranged from heavyweights like Salon.com and WiredNews, to international sites like France's Branchez-Vous.com.

A spokesman for Wes Rataushk & Associates declined further comment on the matter for Last Call, beyond helpfully insisting that his firm was not a PR agency, as was widely reported, but a "group of writers."

We'd humbly suggest they stick to writing, then, and leave the third-party endorsements to the professionals.

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