Microsoft balances bloggers, teaser campaign for Origami

REDMOND, WA: In Microsoft's recently launched teaser campaign for a product code-named Origami, rumored to be a iPod-competing, handheld computer, one of its loudest critics have been its own employees.

REDMOND, WA: In Microsoft's recently launched teaser campaign for a product code-named Origami, rumored to be a iPod-competing, handheld computer, one of its loudest critics have been its own employees.

The online community has been buzzing about teaser Web site www.origamiproject.com since it appeared, and Microsoft confirmed being responsible for the site, which implies the product will be revealed on March 9, the date of the CeBit conference. The New York Times reported that bloggers unearthed a video from video production firm Digital Kitchen's Web site that showed off a touch-screen computer. Waggener Edstrom, Microsoft's agency, did not return calls for comment.

Robert Scoble, one of Microsoft's bloggers admired for his frank assessment of the software giant, criticized Microsoft's use of blogs to build buzz.

Scoble wrote on his blog, "[Marketing teams], when you don't tell us what's up, we can't help you keep expectations under control. Now everyone expects Origami to be bigger than the Xbox."

Marketers who want to give their own employee bloggers information while maintaining the integrity of a buzz campaign face a paradox.

"The internal influencers probably should have been given notice of what was happening," said Mike Manuel, online strategist for Voce Communication. "It's a question of access, and who you give it to."

Asa Bailey, CEO of an eponymous viral advertising agency, underscored the challenge of working with employees who are not "official bloggers."

"The importance of a Microsoft product launch is something big, and you want to minimize the risk of [the news] getting it out," Bailey said. "He really is outside media."

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