back to article Mozilla pulls offensive viral campaign

Mozilla apologised on Monday for an ill-advised viral marketing campaign that featured inappropriate references to cancer. The "wacky" "Firefox Users against Boredom" program featured a variety of off-beat "statistics" that compared Firefox and IE users. Firefox users were 15 per cent more likely to have watched cartoons but …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    What worries me....

    is were the hell they got the stats from the first place!

    Hi do you mind answering a few questions

    Do you have cancer?

    Does anyone in your family have cancer?

    Do you use Mozilla?

    What a bunch of morons....

  2. Ralph B
    Dead Vulture

    True Statistics?

    > contained several stats, taken from a recent Nielsen study

    So the stats are for real, or are a joke? Which is it?

    I don't recall seeing "using Mozilla" mentioned on the Beeb's recent item on healthy living (

  3. Sandra Greer

    What were they thinking?

    Viral campaign indeed! FireFox is already marketed by users and techies -- that's viral marketing, not seeding people in bars, putting up lousy videos of lousy music, and insulting people with crapulous Nielsen stats.

    Well, they are getting a lot of attention -- maybe it worked after all!

    As a techie, FireFox champion, and breast cancer survivor, fork you, marketing department. Concentrate on the software, dude.

    My 25MB upload to YouSendIt via FF went infinite (> 23 hours projected) on several occasions, including after reboot, while the IE upload took the expected 7 minutes. I never use IE but was desperate!

  4. John Bayly

    Surely this was supposed to be tongue in cheek

    Nobody should take them seriously, and to be honest I found them quite amusing. Anyone who takes statistics like these seriously is the moron.

    Queue remarks about x% of statistics being made up on the spot

  5. cor

    In fairness..

    The stats were prolly construed using Apache/IILs HTTP stats and recording a users' browser type.

    Hopefully not using MS Excel to calculate the sum though...

  6. andy gibson

    True stats

    100% of IE users are morons

  7. Graham Jordan

    Cancer jokes

    Are the best jokes ever. Take for instance this number;

    What does the blind deaf and retarded kid get for christmas?




  8. Mike Crawshaw


    Being forced to use IE rather than Firefox at work means I can sue my employer for the added health risk?

  9. Nick Thompson

    Pretty obvious

    Here's a thought:

    Older people are on the whole more set in their ways and less likely to try something new (Say for example, install firefox when IE has been fine for them).

    Older people are more likely to live with other old people (husband/wife, care home etc?)

    Older people are more likely to have cancer.

    When you think about it it's pretty damn obvious.

  10. andy rock

    what's really scary... that this shit even got past the brainstorming session!

    it should have been greeted with looks that said: 'what did you just say?!' and 'wanker' and '(s)he'll be out of a job by the end of the month'.

  11. Robert Hollis

    Marketing Genius

    My question is what Marketing Guru thought to himself; "Cancer! Yeah, that's funny! And Heart Disease - they just crack me up!"

    Next up from the same Marketing Maven: fake stats on how browsers affect a users use of racial slurs - with loud examples!

    I'm sure it will be hilarious.

  12. gareth

    i can believe the heart desiease one

    the stress of dealing with security issues with ie will give anyone a heart attack

  13. James R Curry

    The real outrage... why with all the EU remedies against Microsoft, they haven't been forced to replace the lower half of the Internet Explorer window with an indelible notice.

    "Browsing while pregnant may cause birth defects."

  14. Anonymous Coward


    "...construed using Apache/IILs HTTP stats"

    Yep, i just configured my apache server to store users state of health, what diseases they have, their religion and also what they are likely to vote in the next election in their country... apache extended logs are great!

  15. Paul Buxton


    ...contained several stats, taken from a recent Nielsen study

    So it's true then right? If I use Firefox I'm less likely to get cancer. Woot - I don't have to give up smoking! Yes!

    Btw. Who do I sue if they're wrong?

  16. Carol Yates

    @Nick Thomson

    What's also obvious is that you are generalising shurely?

    1. I am what you would probably describe as an "older" person ie. not a teenager.

    2. Yes I live with an "older" person - my husband.

    3. Neither of us have cancer.

    But both of us design web sites, run Firefox, he even runs OO and when there is a decent database I might even run OO too. Are you sure that you didn't contribute to this Mozilla focus group?

    OK, I'll get my coat ...and the zimmer too...where's me teeth?

  17. fluffy

    @Carol Yates

    I don't think you understand how statistics work. (They are predictive, not descriptive.)

  18. Duncan Hothersall

    I've said it before and I'll say it again

    Those who take offence on behalf of an unknown other are worse than those they criticise.

  19. Andrew Norton

    what they didn't mention

    that Fx users are 50% more likely to have to patch a vulnerability than IE users

    or that Fx users are a 72% greater suicide risk, after getting so depressed with having to upgrade, and rebuild the browser, to make it stable.

    Of course, they're 86.5% more likely to be alone, since they blither on about open source is so much better, despite not matching facts, that everyone leaves them to try compiling their spog 'from the source'

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Keep saying it. Maybe you'll believe yourself one day.

    @Duncan Hothersall

    98% of Hothersalls are horrible people with custard in their hair. That's if they have any at all (which 47% don't). There there. Don't take offence. It's statistics. After all, do you know any Hothersalls with custard in their hair? No? so they're "unknown others".

    However, you proved yourself to be a ding dong.

  21. Ian

    Description, not Prediction

    ``I don't think you understand how statistics work. (They are predictive, not descriptive.)''

    Er no. They are descriptive, not predictive. It may be perfectly true, as a description, to say that in a sample group Firefox usage is correlated with lower rates of Cancer (and indeed I can think of quite a few reasons as to why that might be the case, mostly around class, income and education, which are all correlated with health outcomes). That doesn't mean that if you switch to Firefox you will become healthier (as a prediction), because if the underlying reason is a hidden third variable switching to Firefox won't affect it.

    I'd put money on there being a statistically significant difference between cancer rates of Mac users and Windows users. I'd put that down to age, class, income and education: there are very few poor, elderly working class Mac users, while there are a disproportionate number of young, affluent middle class Mac users. Correct for that and, I suspect, the effect would disappear. Which means that saving up for a Mac out of your pension won't add a single day to your life. Description, not prediction.

  22. Phil Standen
    Paris Hilton

    Misunderstanding Stats

    "stats ... that were offensive and in poor taste"

    If they are legit stats then how can they be offensive, they aren't emotive in any way. The CHOICE of stats to use might be, or the presentation or whatever.

    AND where's the Paris Hilton angle?

  23. Anonymous Coward


    So if I switch to Firefox, will my overweight, chain smoking house mate suddenly move out?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    IE turned me into a newt!

    So is Firefox really the new messiah? Does it go around curing leprosy and blindness without so much as a by your leave, or is it just cancer?

    Will the next UK census have a tick box for 'Firefox' alongside 'Jedi' and all the other religions, and how long before my inbox is flooded with adverts for Mozagra to allow me to perform on the web better than ever before?

  25. Donkey

    99% of Browsers are not used properly

    I notice the cowards didn't make any statistical jokes about race, religion etc.

    e.g. 97% of Muslim fundamentalists use IE5.

    What about Opera users? I believe they are more likely to suffer from haemorrhoids but I have no accurate data to back this up.

  26. Mikey

    The website...

    Whats the point exactly of Firefox Users against Bordom? Surely only FF fanatics visit it?

    It always makes me wonder about the general IQ level of people who think that by doing stuff like this, they'll get more users. If anyone really thought 'Hey, I'll switch, I dont want to get cancer from my computer', then I should really be in the spam/ad business, and make sure I target newly converted FF users.

    I use IE. I'm healthy. I'll stick with it, ta. No sense adding extra un-needed leaky, buggy software to Windows, is there? ;O)

  27. Andy Bright
    Thumb Down

    If you're going to come clean

    Then do it properly. There's no point in saying it was an "accident" or was "never intended to be publicly viewed" when clearly both those comments are lies.

    All that does is make you look even like an even bigger prick than you already did. See the funny thing is if you act like a bastard and pretend you don't care, then people are likely to call you a prick, but quickly forget about you. When you pretend to act like a bastard then get all touchy-feely afterwards, you're twice as hated and will always be remembered as being a lying, two-faced sniveling loser.

    They should have simply said, "ok it was crap, and we pulled it because it wasn't funny". Don't apologise, don't pretend you didn't mean it and don't lie.

    As for being in bad taste or whatever, who gives a fuck? Certainly not people living with cancer or heart disease. Most of these people are fed up of being treated with fake sympathy and condescending political correctness.

    But generally, if you are going to be politically incorrect, just make damn sure its funny first. Otherwise you just look like pricks and no amount of "we didn't mean to" will get you out of it.

  28. Lou Gosselin

    google logs

    "Yep, i just configured my apache server to store users state of health, what diseases they have, their religion and also what they are likely to vote in the next election in their country... apache extended logs are great!"

    You laugh, but google probably does collect a great deal of this information and could pull these stats from their web logs.


  29. Anonymous Coward


    @Opera health hazard - How did you know ? Are you spying on me ?

    I chose the flame icon for those of us who know how it feels.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why all the fuss now?

    Didn't someone once describe Open Source software as a cancer?

  31. Joseph Helenihi

    @ Lou Gosselin

    "You laugh, but google probably does collect a great deal of this information and could pull these stats from their web logs."

    Only to further the interests of "Marketing", and with that, this discussion has come full circle. The underdog in any market will have to do extra desperate tarting-up to sell to clients who have already picked out other favorites.

    If Mozilla's own internal stats show that IE and FF are more commonly used, then it rightly conludes the time has come to reach for more lipstick, salacious fishnets, shorter micro-skirts and find a nice bright lampost to repose beneath well away from the cops that will bust them for these types of marketing ploys.

    >Awful analogies above courtesy of the gent with the coat going out the side door.

  32. Adrian Esdaile


    Firefox Users Against Boredom... hmmm....

    Fear, Uncertainty And Bullshit is what Mozilla-nuts usually claim comes from M$.

    Perhaps they've got wise to Bill's marketing strategies?

    I'll get my manure-proof wellies, thanks.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Netraft confirms it....

    Internet Explorer users are dying!

  34. Sean
    Thumb Up

    I laughed

    And I'd laugh again. I think that's one of the funniest marketing campaign premises ever.

  35. Smell My Finger

    Very poor taste

    My father died from lung cancer and I'm 100% certain he never used IE or Firefox in his life. I'm sure the oncologist said it was something about "cigarettes" that killed him but what the hell did he know?

    My mother survived breast cancer and she *did* use IE so I suppose she's a statistical anomaly?

  36. Chris Ellis
    Thumb Up

    What is it they say......

    any publicity is good publicity.

  37. John Parker

    @Anon C

    "Didn't someone once describe Open Source software as a cancer?"

    A cancer on M$'s profit margins...

  38. Oliver Brown

    Inference: Firefox is a joke

    Advertising and marketting is designed to reach any number and variety of people. Black comedy by its very nature often uses politically incorrect jokes as its substance. I think that jokes like this that constitute black comedy should not be used in advertising because of the broad audience.

    If an advert is targetted towards people who do not already use that product, then you could be reaching somebody who is a cancer sufferer who is using IE. They would be unlikely to switch, since they have cancer already and have nothing to lose.. no really jokes aside they would understandably not find it funny since it is a rather tasteless (rather than offensive). It is thoughtless and insensitive of whoever the hell designed it, like people have also said above; how did it get past brainstorming? Sure if you make a comedy series on TV people will have a choice to watch it. People who like that comedy will watch it for that comedy.

    So the logical conclusion from that would have been that firefox is really a joke. I use opera, but thats simply because I liked its features a long time ago. IE and Firefox work fine for me, I dont see what the big problem is. A browser opens and displays pages if you use it properly. The major downfall for me is the way that they have to belittle another company to make theirs look good, with untruthful comedy.

    Very very sad, this whole disaster to me really puts me off them. It DOES reflect the views of Mozilla, since they are the ones who let it get up there. An apology for any offense caused is enough, denying involvement implies weakness in management (Mozilla letting that get past a scribble on paper).

  39. b4k4

    For real amusement

    they should publicize the msfirefox site, the most entertaining web site on the Internet:

    its better now.

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