Critics Cry Racism Over Microsoft Black And White Ad

The ebony and ivory brouhaha began after Web users noticed the same stock photograph on Microsoft's U.S. site. That photo showed three people seated at a conference table: an Asian man, a woman and a black man.

Adding insult to injury, an inept Photo Shopper forgot to change the business man's hands to white from black.

The photo has since been pulled but the damage has been done. An embarrassed company spokesperson apologized and said Microsoft is investigating the situation.

Some Web posters didn't think the photo blunder warranted outrage. It seems that the controversy is more heated in the U.S. as evidenced by comments made in the The U.K. Guardian Web site.

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"I don't think this has got anything to do with racism," wrote one blogger. "In an ad, you want potential users/customers to be able to relate to the scenario shown by the ad. If Poland is not yet a multi-racial society, an ethnically diverse mix of people would be perceived as "foreign" and possibly not so relevant to the target the ad is trying to reach."

Another blogger agreed.

"Not quite sure what all the fuss is about - apart from the terrible clumsiness of the actual photoshop work. This is a piece of marketing; marketing is about communicating with the largest demographic that will buy your product. If your demographic does not include a high percentage of black people OR if you it isn't part of your regional brand strategy to be seen as 'global' or 'diverse' then why would you possibly use an ethnically diverse image?"