boulderdash n: a road game played by California drivers during the wet season <Penelope called her friend to tell her about the ~ that was already underway along Pacific Coast Highway.> -more-



 Liesure & Lifestyle

In Marketing Blitz, Microsoft Paints Over Monarch Butterflies

Microsoft usually gets its way. But when they messed with California's namesake monarch butterflies to advertise a new Internet service, someone blew the whistle on their 'Better with the Butterfly' campaign.

By George Wolfe

PACIFIC GROVE, Calif. — The population of California's Monarch butterflies took a mysterious drop this winter, and experts were confused about the cause— until now.

It turns out that while California grew ever more anxious about a 65 million population dip of its namesake butterfly, Microsoft was reeling in the bucks as part of a $300 million marketing ploy to introduce its MSN 8 Internet service featuring a colorful butterfly as its centerpiece.

At a factory here in the heart of Monterey County, south of San Francisco, just down the road from the Friends of the Monarchs association, an assembly line of migrant workers were discovered painting over the orange and black Monarch butterflies to resemble the ubiquitous, rainbow-colored butterfly that is the software behemoth's new marketing critter. The marketing campaign is officially titled "Better With The Butterfly."

Confronted by town officials, the group — wearing Microsoft baseball hats, sweatshirts and Birkenstock sandals — smiled and muttered phases such as "Windows es numero uno!" and "Billy es mi amigo!"

California Monarch-lovers became suspicious when Microsoft's new butterfly mascot crashed the annual Butterfly Parade and handed out life-sized butterflies covered in a thick paint. One parade attendee, Hal Lemley, happened to peel off some of the paint and discovered a real albeit dead Monarch butterfly inside.

"I was totally shocked," said Lemley. "If we don't clamp down on them now, will they embed tiny chips in our poor Monarchs to make them only replicate with other MSN butterflies?!"

Area residents were unanimous in their condemnation — not surprising in a town that made it a city fine of $1,000 for anyone who molests a Monarch. There was little doubt as to who had the greatest motive and physical resources to pull off a scheme of this magnitude.

"Will they embed tiny chips in our poor Monarchs to make them only replicate with other MSN butterflies?!"

Hal Lemley, Pacific Grove resident

Still, Microsoft was quick to deny the charges. Mamouk Yafti, a corporate vice president at MSN, said in a statement that "Just because we share a common insect and these strangers happened to be wearing our logo does not mean we committed this horrible crime." But later, away from the glare of TV camera lights, Yafti quipped, "What's it matter anyway? They're all a bunch of Mac-lovers down there anyway!"


RAINING ON THEIR PARADE: MSN Butterflies crash the annual Monarch butterfly parade.

KILLER APPS: Seemingly benign, these beauties are decimating native butterfly populations.





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