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Microsoft misjudges millennials, spectacularly

Preston Gralla | July 29, 2016
Beer pong, sexy schoolgirls and racist rants: A string of marketing and recruiting missteps suggests the company is desperate to be noticed by the younger set

Surely, you might think, Microsoft would have learned from those two incidents to be more careful in the actions it takes in its lust for millennials. But like a teenage boy who does outrageously stupid things in an attempt to impress the young woman of his dreams, Microsoft couldn’t stop itself. In early July, Patrick Burtchaell, a Loyola University New Orleans student, posted on Twitter an email from a Microsoft recruiter to his roommate. The email had the subject line “HEY BAE INTERN <3.” It invited the student’s roommate to a recruitment event, and went on to say, “We're throwing an exclusive after party the night of the event at our San Francisco office and you're invited. There will be hella noms, lots of dranks, the best beats and just like last year, we're breaking out the Yammer beer pong table. HELL YES TO GETTING LIT ON A MONDAY NIGHT”

What could go wrong with that?

Yes, you guessed it, once again, everything. Microsoft apologized for the email, saying in a statement that “the email was poorly worded and not in keeping with our values as a company.” (Except, apparently, whenever it gets within 100 yards of a millennial.)

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to tap millennials as employees and customers. But there’s plenty wrong with acting like a dimwitted, morally offensive, hormonally driven player in order to do it. These three incidents show just how cynical Microsoft has been in courting millennials, thinking that it only needs to try and get the lingo right, and the young lemmings will follow.

I have two millennial children, and I have some advice for Microsoft based on knowing them and their friends. They’re idealistic, free-thinking, caring, open-minded and open-hearted, and looking for meaning and purpose in both their jobs and their lives. Using moronic jargon, promising them games of beer pong and hiring women to pose as underage sexbots isn’t the way to impress them — quite the contrary. Instead, engage their hearts and minds. You’ll be surprised at how acting honestly and with dignity will draw them in.


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