This story was written by Keith Dawson for the Media Unspun email newsletter and is Copyright 2002 by Keith Dawson.
M E D I A   U N S P U N
Gates to the Magic Kingdom

OK, that was the hard part. Now let's take a breather from life-and-death news and ponder the notion of Bill Gates on stage with Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

Microsoft rolled out MSN version 8 in New York's Central Park yesterday, and announced a content partnership with Disney (hence the Mice). Seventies retread expert Lenny Kravitz sang. (Last week, AOL had unveiled its own version 8 accompanied by Alanis Morissette.) The Microsoft event kicked off a $300 million advertising orgy, so prepare to be assaulted by multicolored butterflies -- MSN's totem -- in the coming days and weeks.

Someone plastered those butterflies all over streets, buildings, and other public spaces in the Big Apple. The New York Times covered the outrage of city officials at this act one called "nothing more than corporate graffiti." The city's Transportation Department sent a firm lawyer-speak letter to Microsoft yesterday, telling them to get the butterflies out of town. The butterflies were presumably spread at the behest of either Waggener Edstrom, Microsoft's PR agency, or McCann-Erickson, the ad agency tasked with spending the $300 million. The Times quoted a Waggener Edstrom spokeswoman claiming to have the proper permits to plaster the city. A city official countered, somewhat ruefully, "It's illegal, and they're going to get a lot of publicity for it."

The L.A .Times ran an extensive analysis of the MSN-Disney arrangement. Microsoft's deal with Disney is for a jointly branded version of MSN that gives consumers a little Disney content alongside the regular MSN fare, at the standard MSN monthly fee of $21.95. The service includes customized pages for children and links to Disney activities and movies. Oddly enough, the Mouse's hometown paper didn't uncover any details on the deal's financial terms. Other papers such as the New York Times reported Mr. Eisner's comment that the service would be profitable for Disney from the start. But we're guessing it won't make up for Eurodisney. - Keith Dawson

Microsoft, Mickey, and MSN

New York Tells Microsoft to Get Its Butterfly Decals Out of Town

New MSN Online Service Outshines Its Rival AOL (Walter Mossberg),,SB1035400844129471991,00.html
(Paid subscription required)

MSN Version Planned With Disney (Tech Briefs),,2_0201,00.html
(Paid subscription required)

Microsoft, Disney in Internet Alliance (LA Times)

Disney to Offer New Internet Access Service

Microsoft, Disney partner on MSN 8

Disney, Microsoft to launch family friendly Internet service (AP)

(Bill Gates, Mickey and Minnie Mouse -- AP Photo/Suzanne Plunkett)