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Seth MacFarlane is too much for Microsoft, but 'South Park' and 'Two and a Half Men' are no problem

Two and a Half Men

When Microsoft made the decision this week to drop out as the sole sponsor of Fox's upcoming special "Family Guy Presents: Seth & Alex's Almost Live Comedy Show," the software giant said, "The content was not a fit with the Windows brand." 

The special from "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane and Alex Borstein, who also works on the animated show, featured skits and bits with jokes about the Holocaust, feminine hygiene, bowel movements and incest. In other words, it was much like a typical episode of "Family Guy."

But since Microsoft has problems with that sort of stuff and seemed surprised that MacFarlane's humor knows no limits, we thought we'd look at some of the other shows on which they've been buying commercials. That way they can determine whether the programs are a good "fit with the Windows brand." We gave a list of some shows to TNS Media Intelligence, a consulting firm that tracks where companies spend money, and the results were, well, quite interesting.

Seth MacFarlane Microsoft, which spent $3.2 million last season buying commercials on Fox's "Family Guy" (and an additional $1.4 million on reruns of the show that ran on TBS and Cartoon Network), really likes CBS' "Two and a Half Men." The company spent more than $4 million on it last season, according to TNS. Although it's no "Family Guy," the sitcom can get pretty racy. In one recent episode titled "Laxative Tester, Horse Inseminator," there were jokes about condoms, teenage boys being aroused and the benefits to using a bidet. We'd quote some of the lines directly (and they were crude, but funny), but odds are they wouldn't be a good fit with our editors.

Other shows Microsoft helped bankroll include AMC's "Breaking Bad," a violent drama about a teacher who becomes a crystal meth dealer after he learns he has cancer; FX's "Nip/Tuck," which usually has enough sex to make Hugh Hefner blush; and "Rescue Me," which also loves its bathroom humor. Oh, and Microsoft likes Comedy Central's "South Park," where it dropped more than $1 million on commercials.

We're not pointing any of this out in the hopes that Microsoft will stop buying commercials on these shows, some of which are critically acclaimed and very worthy of commercial support. But we know how much big companies hate surprises, and since MacFarlane's brand of entertainment seemed to shock Microsoft, consider this a public service.

As for what sent Microsoft over the edge at the taping of the MacFarlane special, that may never be known. The company was involved in the program from the get-go so nothing should have been a shock. Who knows, maybe hearing those "Family Guy" style jokes coming out of the mouths of real people instead of cartoon figures was just a little jarring. Or it was that one bit about Miley Cyrus and her dad ...

-- Joe Flint

Previous posts:

Microsoft shocked, shocked by "Family Guy" special content

Photos: Top, "Two and a Half Men." Credit: Ringo H.W. Chiu / For The Times. Bottom: Seth MacFarlane. Credit: Peter Kramer / Associated Press.

Comments () | Archives (4)

I think doubtlessly South Park pushes the envelope of taste (and probably humor) more than even Family Guy, however that does not mean Microsoft is necessarily inconsistent in dropping sponsorship of the MacFarlane special while advertising with South Park. There is a difference between advertising alongside other sponsors and becoming the exclusive sponsor of a special, complete with significant product placement. It is quite possible, had Microsoft continued its intended sponsorship of the event, it would have been the highest profile moment in its launch campaign. By extension, Microsoft could very well be very closely tied to any fallout from the special, which, given Family Guy's history of making the news cycle once or twice a season, this is a non-trivial possibility. I think MacFarlane is very talented (albeit nowhere near as cutting-edge as Fox likes to pretend), however, it seems Microsoft may have made a very wise risk-adverse move here. They seemed like strange bedfellows to me, upon hearing the initial announcement.

I agree with Microsoft. Family Guy is cool, I have good time watched it, but associate with a commercial brand is too much. Just crazy would did it.

maybe apple will step in as the sponsor... and their ultimate coolness over microsoft will know no bounds.

Well, I assume they were already buying commercials for Family Guy. The difference is that they going to directly sponsor this special, as apposed to just buying commercials, so their brand would be more associated with it. But why they weren't expecting those kind of offensive things from the special, I don't know.


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