Every office or workplace can benefit from a little fun. At Microsoft's Bing search engine, General Manager for Marketing Communications Eric Hadley was tasked as part of Bing's marketing with making that "fun" a reality. At least until last week, when Hadley was canned for having a bit too much of it.
But the official explanation for Hadley's firing doesn't do justice to the "fun" he crafted.
According to reports, Hadley's firing was related to a list of misdeeds including problems with purchase orders related to the three-story Bing Bar in Park City, Utah during the Sundance Film Festival. Described as a "celeb hangout," during this year's festival the Bing Bar hosted performances by Drake and Jason Mraz, appearances by Paul Simon and Neil Young, in addition to a boatload of catered food and an open bar.
By all accounts, the Bing Bar was the very definition of "fun."
Ad Age goes on to describe two other questionable incidents that led to Hadley's firing:
Another incident cited in the list of violations involved the Bing marketing team paying Co Collective, which was not a Microsoft-approved vendor, a $1-million-plus fee through longtime agency Razorfish. The Bing team had worked with Co founders Rosemarie Ryan and Ty Montague, when they were at JWT to launch Bing in 2009 and, as Ad Age reported, were eager to tap their new venture to refresh the brand.
A third violation involved a first-class flight Mr. Carver took from New York to Seattle; Mr. Carver was not supposed to fly first class but Mr. Hadley approved the flight despite not having the authority to do so.
Jokes aside, Hadley was the face of what's widely referred to as Microsofts's "envelope-pushing" marketing approach with Bing and had been highly acclaimed for his marketing chops and swagger.
As Ad Age notes:
... Mr. Hadley has produced work held up as the gold standard in marketing. In the past 12 months he was honored as an Ad Age Media Maven and inducted into the AAF's Hall of Achievement.
What kind of awesomeness gets a person honored as an Ad Age Media Maven and inducted into the AAF's Hall of Achievement, you ask?
Kicking it with Jay-Z and Beyonce apparently helps.
Described as "Bill Gates' opposite," The Daily Beast detailed an epic party/marketing stunt from 2010 that helped put Mr. Fun on the map.
On a typically gorgeous late-October evening, about 300 tastemakers assembled at the trendy Delano Hotel in Miami's South Beach. As Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Venus Williams, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall, and other celebrities looked on, Microsoft executive Eric Hadley stepped up to a microphone to address the crowd. Not one for attention, the megawatt star power caused Hadley's voice to crack nervously as he started to speak, according to a source in attendance that night. Pulling himself together, Hadley led the crowd over to the Delano's world-famous skinny pool and directed the underwater lights to come up for the big reveal: There, printed on the pool's floor, were the lyrics to Jay-Z's "Big Pimpin,'" marking the official launch of a marketing campaign put together by Hadley and the rapper's handlers to promote his autobiography, Decoded, through Microsoft's Bing search engine.
Sounds like fun, right?
In all seriousness, Ad Age can't help but wonder if the firing of Hadley and Carver signal a change to Microsoft's money-is-no-issue marketing approach with Bing.
Bing has become known for pushing the envelope in marketing to build a brand in a search market synonymous with Google. But after some modest growth in market share, Microsoft has now cleared away the public faces of brand Bing in a public way. At Bing's outset, Microsoft signaled that no price was too high to win at search, but with procurement violations pushing out the architects of the work that's gotten Bing noticed, that may no longer be the case.
These days at Bing, it seems, fun would be well advised to fly coach.