June 18, 2010 – Microsoft had to have known what they were getting themselves into when they gave the green light to TV comedian/news anchor Stephen Colbert to use the name of their new Bing service in a fundraising venture. On the June 7episode of The Colbert Report, the political comedian Colbert announced that every time the name “Bing” was mentioned, Microsoft Bing would donate $2,500 to the Gulf of America Fund in support of the Gulf Coast cleanup efforts.
A company representative for Bing mentioned that this was a way to promote Bing to build brand awareness while doing something good for the environment. They approached Colbert about the idea and worked with the writers of the show to make it all happen. Colbert is known for out-of-the-box fundraising and philanthropic efforts with his show, so it comes as no surprise that he’d be a go-to for the idea.
The fundraising effort was done with a few jabs at Bing, including such lines as “Bing is a great website for doing Internet searches. I know that because I Googled it.” The “Bing” tally was also counting uses such as “Bing Crosby” “Bing cherries” and the emphasized “rob-BING them blind” phrase. At the end of the episode, the total Bings came in at 40, securing a $100,000 donation to the Gulf Coast relief efforts.
The Microsoft representative agreed that this was an experiment in brand advertising in casual programming that could lead to similar promotions in the future. Just like similar branded entertainment campaigns, they were able to reach people and build buzz around the Bing name while associating with a popular brand like The Colbert Report.
(and if they counted the Bings in this post, that’d be another $35,000!)
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