Family Guy proves too un-PC for Microsoft

After a monumental marketing miscalculation, Microsoft has cancelled a tie-in between animated sitcom Family Guy and Windows 7

BY Tim Edwards LAST UPDATED AT 15:50 ON Wed 28 Oct 2009

Cold, hard marketing reality has derailed Microsoft's fantasies of appearing cooler than its geek-chic nemesis Apple. Two weeks after announcing its sponsorship of a special episode of Fox's edgy animated sitcom Family Guy, the computer giant has pulled out, saying the programme is "not a fit with the Windows brand".

Microsoft had planned to use a Family Guy 'almost live' variety show special, which would have been aired without ad breaks, to promote its new Windows 7 operating system. It is not clear what Microsoft had been intending for the show, but the corporation promised "unique Windows 7-branded programming that blends seamlessly with show content".

Apparently, the show's creator Seth MacFarlane had "teamed with Windows and their agencies, Universal McCann and Crispin, Porter + Bogusky, to develop, write and produce the customized branded integrations."

But quite why Microsoft thought Family Guy would complement their brand is anyone's guess. Despite its wholesome-sounding title, the sitcom is well-known for close-to-the bone jokes about celebrities and American society. One recent episode showed Stewie, the family's highly intelligent, psychotic baby run naked through a shopping mall shouting "Help! I've just escaped from Kevin Spacey's basement!" for a bet.

The Family Guy special that was to be sponsored by Microsoft was recorded on October 16 and reportedly features jokes about deaf people, the Holocaust, feminine hygiene and incest.

Microsoft told ABC, "We initially chose to participate in the 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."

Fox plans to air the show on November 8, as scheduled, partnered with a new, as-yet undisclosed, "integrated" sponsor. Meanwhile, the sophisticated baby Stewie is doubtless planning his next diabolical scheme on an Apple Mac. · 

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