Someone’s head will roll for this. There is a Microsoft employee inept at Photoshop who has brought a good deal of embarrassment to the company with a poor attempt to white wash the company’s marketing materials in Europe.

The above images both graced Micrsoft websites this week. The top picture, which appears on the company’s Seattle-based website, features a black man.
But on the company’s Polish site, a white man’s head was superimposed into
the shot. Whoever massacred the image didn’t have time to deal with issues of consistency — he left the original man’s hand unchanged in the Polish version.

A reader pointed out the discrepancy to TechCrunch, and Microsoft has since apologized. The company isn’t naming names on who was responsible for the mistake, but they have since returned the image to its original state on the Polish website. Too bad for them it’s already become a meme.

Microsoft is embarrassed by the blunder. On its Twitter feed, the company wrote: “Marketing site photo
mistake — sincere apologies — we are in the process of taking down the image.”

Microsoft has an executive statement on its commitment to diversity and promises to, “promote and integrate diversity and inclusion
at every level within our organization and in everything we do.”

There are plenty of funny things about the poorly altered image. The logo on the laptop in the photo, which
clearly looks like an Apple product, was wiped out of the shot. And the original message over the image said the following: “Empower your people with the IT skills they need.”

Meanwhile, since the image discrepancy was discovered, it has become a meme on TechCrunch. The site has started a contest to insert other images into the scene, among them are images of Darth Vader, Ronald Reagan, and a weird rodent.

This misjudgment was obviously made by accident, but it gets to another
point. Ethnic marketing is tricky when done purposefully. It’s a
disaster when done in haste. My colleague Patricio Robles recently
wrote about the issue here.

Microsoft is being called out is because the demographic change they made was done so poorly. But this sort of thing happens all the time.

In America, it’s
often the reverse — inserting individuals from different ethnicities to
promote a company or brand’s commitment to diversity. It always rings hollow when the images don’t reflect reality, but at least when companies attempt to make themselves look better it shows that they care about the issue of diversity.

In a situation like this, an employee just managed to reiterate people’s suspicions when it comes to race in large corporate workplaces. Emphasizing stereotypes (there aren’t a lot of Black people in
Poland) and reminding of a belief people have long fought against (that Black people are somehow less desirable
in an image) is an especially eggregious offense.

This just highlights the fact that as companies increasingly try to address different demographics and minority groups, targeting will become more important. And also much trickier.

Image: Times Online