Microsoft and Amy Winehouse

After a weekend in which Norway and Amy Winehouse sadly dominated the news, it was interesting to see how some brands forgot that they are just that – brands, not real people. 

It seems that Microsoft’s PR department briefly forgot this, when (via @tweetbox360) they suggested that people celebrate Amy Winehouse’s life by downloading her music – from their site.   They later tweeted: “Apologies to everyone if our earlier Amy Winehouse ‘download’ tweet seemed purely commercially motivated. Far from the case, we assure you”.  

You can hear the voice of an individual apologising.  But still missing the point. Individuals can grieve.  Brands should probably steer clear of it.   Unless they are very, very clearly linked to the person being grieved over.  Or very, very closely linked to a Good Cause that might mitigate future events like the one being grieved.    In neither case does Microsoft pass the test.  And even the apology strikes a wrong note.

Any thoughts on this admittedly sensitive topic?