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Microsoft's Stay-At-Home Server campaign deserves a time-out

Marketing campaign attempts parody, but falls flat on its face in the eyes of CNET Blog Network contributor and "Mojo Mom" author Amy Tiemann.

Q: How many feminists does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: That's not funny.

OK, getting that out of the way, let me tell you about the greatest marketing campaign since "The Wow Starts Now."

You see, Microsoft, known for its riotous sense of humor, thought it would try its hand of parody, creating a Colbert-like investigative report about whether servers belong in the office or in the home to promote the Windows Home Server. There's a whole series of larger than life posters here at the Consumer Electronics Show.

Amy Tiemann
Amy Tiemann

The problem is, the attempted parody ultimately reinforces all the stereotypes about moms, domesticity, and the so-called "Mommy Wars" that writers and activists are working really hard to erase.

In Microsoft's series of faux talk show videos, the blowhard host says to the dad, "You thought people might ridicule you, or they might say why doesn't your server go out and get a job, or if you were a real man, why don't you buy a real server?"

Of course the daddy buys and hooks up the server. Then the TV anchor says to the cookie baking "lady of the house" "Do you think your family would still need a home server if you were say...a better mother?" Then the teenage daughter says, "At first I was really nervous about it. I thought 'What if this is some loser server that isn't good enough to be in an office? Is that why it's staying home? I mean come on, what would my friends think?"

Being a mother or a woman in techalready comes with plenty of gender baggage without Microsoft's "help." I am not sure who this campaign is aimed at, but this mom wants to put it on permanent "time-out."