When Microsoft announced that they'd be the exclusive sponsors of a live Family Guy variety show, it seemed like such a perfect fit! After all, who doesn't love variety shows? According to the back issues of the Hollywood Reporter from the late 1960s/ early 1970s that the Microsoft executives read at the library on microfiche because they don't trust these newfangled microfiche compendiums hidden inside the computers (ironic, no?), variety shows are hot! Hotter than Lief Garrett even, who is basically the hottest thing in entertainment these days.
So faster than anyone could say, "What about Benji The Dog Teaches You Windows 7, featuring that dog Benji from that movie Benji that everyone loves? Benji," Microsoft signed on to be the exclusive sponsors of Seth MacFarlane Will Sell You Windows 7 In A Variety Format: Live! They heard that this Family Guy thing was "edgy," and that's just the direction they wanted for Windows 7. Why, they even call Windows 7, "The Edgy Vista" around the office!
Then the Microsoft executives actually watched a taping of the special they were exclusively sponsoring, and found it to be a little, well, horrible. "Too horrible for Windows 7?" you ask, "How is that even possible?"
"Almost Live Comedy Show" was announced earlier this month as part of a major marketing partnership Microsoft had sealed with a wide range of News Corp. properties to promote the launch of the computer giant's Windows 7 operating system. As part of the deal, "Almost Live Comedy Show" was set to run commercial-free, with Microsoft marketing messages built into the special instead (Daily Variety, Oct. 14).
But that was before Microsoft execs attended the special's taping Oct. 16. The program included MacFarlane and Alex Borstein — the voice of "Family Guy" matriarch Lois — pitching Windows 7.
For most of the special, however, MacFarlane and Borstein made typical "Family Guy"-style jokes, including riffs on deaf people, the Holocaust, feminine hygiene and incest.
Such material was apparently a bit much for Microsoft.
"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. "We continue to have a good partnership with Fox, Seth MacFarlane and Alex Borstein and are working with them in other areas. We continue to believe in the value of brand integrations and partnerships between brands, media companies and talent."
It's a shame that this story is framed as "Family-Guy's boundary pushing style was just too much for Microsoft," and not "Family Guy's deaf jokes just weren't funny, so Microsoft pulled out." Because while I'm sure Microsoft is easily offended, it would probably help if the joke wasn't something "Family-Guy-style edgy" like Peter saying, "Windows 7 is so easy a deaf person can use it!" Followed by a cut to Marlee Matlin putting her ear up to a laptop or whatever.
The thing is, Microsoft is completely wrong to think that their brand doesn't dovetail perfectly with the "creative humor" of Family Guy. When you think about it, isn't Family Guy kind of like The Simpsons but infected with several devestating, corrosive viruses? Just look at this promo:
A perfect fit!
Then there's this:
In fact, the animated portions of "Almost Live Comedy Show" were the tamest parts of the show — it was the live-action segments (such as one in which MacFarlane and Borstein play Latino housekeepers) that probably raised the most eyebrows.
Microsoft sent MacFarlane and Fox several notes expressing their concern over the show's content but ultimately decided just to drop out.
MacFarlane and Borstein pitched Windows 7 live in front of the studio audience in the middle of taping "Almost Live Comedy Show." It's unclear how the show will be edited and whether the duo will have to shoot new scenes with the replacement sponsor.
Latino housekeepers? Even the set up is funny! Or is that the joke?
You know who would be the perfect replacement sponsor for such a bold, edge-tastic show? Miracle Whip! They don't believe in rules, like mayo. They are bold. They will not tone it down. Family Guy: That's sooo Miracle Whip!