Battle Of The Goofy Email Campaigns

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The heated battle between two of the biggest email services on the web has taken a decidedly humorous turn.

Yesterday Google unveiled Email Intervention, a site “built by a few folks from the Gmail team” that encourages users to get their friends to switch from draconian email systems and their “embarrassingly outdated addresses” over to Google’s service, which features such niceties as free phone calls and video chat. The site taps into the power of peer pressure, prompting you to send one of three pre-written letters to your friends that are still stuck in the past — and you can include a custom video if you really want to get on their case.

But Microsoft, whose Hotmail service is obviously one of the targets of the site, isn’t keeping quiet. Earlier today someone uploaded a video a spoof featuring ‘Gmail Man’, who digs through people’s email as he tries to find keywords that he can run ads against — with unimpressive results.

According to ZDNet the video was featured at Microsoft’s Global Exchange sales conference last week, and it was subsequently uploaded by a sneaky attendee. The ZDNet report goes on to say Microsoft hasn’t confirmed it’s behind the video, though it sure seems like it is — and the timing seems a little too perfect for it not to be.

Of course, these tongue-in-cheek projects still have plenty of bite to them. Gmail’s Twitter account announced that 100,000 interventions were sent in the site’s first 24 hours, and that ‘Gmail Man’ video could help salespeople rekindle Gmail privacy fears that have largely died down over the last several years.

Update: A Google spokesperson points out that Microsoft’s video is misleading — Google Apps for Business (which is what Microsoft’s Office 365 products compete with most directly) actually lets users turn off ads.