Advertising writers love to coin new words, usually at the expense of reason and taste. The minds behind Microsoft's Bing, of all people, have hung their new anti-Google attack campaign on the rare exception—a quality portmanteau that squarely hits its target.
"Scroogled," a combination of the terms "screwed" and "Google," also has overtones of "Scrooge." Microsoft is playing up the latter connection, all the more appropriate for holiday ads. But the main point of the "Don't get Scroogled" work is clear enough: Google plans to screw you, and your wallet, this winter by serving you search results on its Google Shopping page that aren't neutral results at all, but rather paid advertisements.
The basic obnoxiousness of anti-advertising advertising aside, the tone of Bing's attack is more or less dead-on ruthless, but also kind of lighthearted. That way, Bing gets to jab nastily at goliath Google without seeming like it's taking itself too seriously. (Of course, Google also gets to lazily wave Bing away like an annoying little fly.)
The two video spots aren't really anything to write home about. Oddly, the kind of patronizing narrated demo, which emphasizes Google's own on-site copy to paint what looks like a pretty damning picture, is actually more compelling than the annoyingly (if intentionally) cheesy home-shopping sketch. But both do a serviceable job of getting across the message, and the strength of the concept helps carry them through.
The truly damning bits are on the hard-swinging Scroogled.com site Microsoft has set up, which features a ticker running apparently self-incriminating quotes from Google's Sergey Brin and Larry Page, like "Advertising income often provides an incentive to provide poor-quality search results." In Google's characteristically opaque reality, it uses what it calls a mix of relevance and price bidding to determine which results surface, and claims that it's aimed at providing higher-quality information to users. When MarketWatch reached out to analysts to take their temperature, one agreed with Google, and another basically called the campaign irrelevant, as nobody really uses Google Shopping.
Will "Scroogled" become part of the popular lexicon? Maybe not. But for the time being at least, everyone else gets to grab a bag of popcorn and crack low-hanging jokes like "I'd rather be Scroogled than Binged."