Microsoft has pulled out of a sponsorship deal with the upcoming Family Guy Presents: Seth and Alex’s Almost Live Comedy Show after it was shocked – shocked! – to discover that some of the material wasn’t exactly family friendly.
The deal was part of a major marketing deal between Microsoft and News Corp., owner of the Fox network on which Family Guy airs, to promote the new Windows 7 operating system. Under the terms of the deal, the Almost Live Comedy Show would run without commercials, using integrated “Microsoft marketing messages” between segments instead.
All was well until Microsoft executives attended a taping of the show on October 16. The session featured Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane and Alex Borstein, the voice of Lois Griffin, pitching Windows 7 – and also making jokes about “deaf people, the Holocaust, feminine hygiene and incest,” according to Variety. Microsoft apparently contacted Fox and MacFarlane several times to express its concern, but ultimately decided it would be best to just give up on the whole thing.
“We initially chose to participate in the Seth and Alex variety show based on the audience composition and creative humor of Family Guy, but after reviewing an early version of the variety show, it became clear that the content was not a fit with the Windows brand,” said a Microsoft spokeswoman, who added that the company still maintains “a good partnership with Fox, Seth MacFarlane and Alex Borstein” and is working with them “in other areas.” The rest of the sponsorship deal, which will encompass News Corp. properties including Fox Sports, Hulu, 20th Century Fox and more, will be unaffected.
Far be it from me to question the competence of anyone in in the Microsoft marketing department or the executives who approved all this, but I do feel a certain obligation to suggest that perhaps next time you’re thinking about signing up for a multi-million-dollar television marketing deal, you might want to, you know, actually check out the show you’re planning to appear on first. Just a thought.