In August 2009, bloggers reacted sharply to an advertisement by Microsoft Corp. which had performed a photo edit by changing the race of a person in the advert from black to white.
The photo in question appeared on the U.S. website of Microsoft, in which three colleagues were seen to be sitting around a table in a conference room. The three people that appeared in the advert were a white, a black, and a person of Asian ethnicity and persuasion. However, when the same photo appeared on the Polish website of Microsoft, the face of the black individual had suddenly changed and become the face of a white person!
Bloggers and other critics accused Microsoft of acting with racial motivations. However, it was widely believed that Microsoft resorted to this controversial photo edit to suit the racial composition of Poland, where the black population is negligible.
After this incident came to light, the techie blog TechCrunch, went to the extent of launching a contest relating to the best manipulation of the figures in the Microsoft advert to one where they looked the most funny. TechCrunch offered a Bing T-shirt to the winner, Bing being the search engine of Microsoft.
Ultimately, Microsoft expressed their sincerest apologies over the incident, issuing a statement that it was looking into the circumstances that led to this occurrence. It also replaced the altered photograph with the original one. Several other digitally altered photo edit images have also been the subject of controversy in the past and show that these incidents run a real risk when photo edited advertorials are shown, as such actions can sometimes backfire and lead to quite angry reactions from the public.