Not So Pretty: MSN Quashes ‘Pink’ Push

NEW YORK A blog campaign for MSN’s concert series has been scrapped amid concerns that some of the work was in poor taste.

Control Room, an independent company that produces on-demand concerts for MSN, had planned a banner push on celebrity blogs that gave passing reference to recent paparazzi photos of Britney Spears not wearing underwear.

“See the real Pink!” declared one ad, touting an upcoming MSN concert by the recording artist of that name. (Though the line could have been interpreted as the slang term for female genitalia.)

MSN said it asked Control Room to kill the ads after it became aware of the content.

“Microsoft had no knowledge of Control Room’s Pink concert advertising campaign,” said Rob Bennett, general manager of entertainment and video at MSN, who termed the effort “counter to MSN’s brand identity.”

The ads were to run this week on Pink is the New Blog, Perez Hilton and The Superficial. All three sites extensively cover the scandalous behavior of celebs like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. Several photos of Spears, sans underwear, have provided fodder for these sites in recent weeks.

MSN did not approve the ads but was to have its brand prominently displayed in them.

In an interview yesterday about the campaign, Jonathan Anastas, vp, marketing at Control Room, said an irreverent tone is a must for free-flowing sites, where celebrities are skewered with frequent references to drug use and sexual escapades.

“In a perfect world those banners are running against the Britney Spears upskirt” photos on the site, he said.

Advertisers have struggled to balance the need to protect their brands (by steering clear of saucy content) and the desire to connect with young, savvy audiences on sites like MySpace, YouTube and popular blogs.

“It has come to our attention that the intended placement of certain online ads planned by our marketing department would have been inappropriate given the content on, and context of, the targeted sites,” said Nina Guralnick, general manager of Control Room, in a statement.

The Pink ads are still available at Control Room’s Web site, www.controlroom.com/myspace/pink/old/pink.html.