Microsoft, FOX team up with ‘Family Guy’ creator MacFarlane on TV show pimping Windows 7

“Microsoft “has signed a deal with Fox to sponsor a variety show produced by ‘Family Guy’ creator Seth MacFarlane, voice of the family guy himself, Peter Griffin, and actress Alex Borstein, who plays wife Lois Griffin. The show will air Nov. 8 without commercial interruption — because it will instead feature Windows-branded programming throughout the program,” Abbey Klaassen reports for Advertising Age.

“The branded-entertainment deal is a collaboration between Microsoft, the brand-friendly Mr. MacFarlane and Crispin, Porter & Bogusky, the ad agency responsible for the multimillion-dollar worldwide Windows 7 push. Microsoft’s media agency, Universal McCann, was also involved in brokering the deal,” Klaassen reports.

“The Microsoft-sponsored variety show, whose working title is ‘Family Guy Presents: Seth & Alex’s Almost Live Comedy Show,’ is a mix of live-action ‘Family Guy’ musical performances, animated shorts and celebrity guest appearances, and is part of an all-Seth MacFarlane night on Fox. The software company wouldn’t elaborate on what exactly the Microsoft integrations would look like or possible scenarios in which Windows 7 could play a starring role, but said Crispin’s copywriter and art director on the Windows campaign were working closely with Mr. MacFarlane and Ms. Borstein,” Klaassen reports. “‘You’ll see us deeply integrated into the content … you’ll hear a lot about how Windows 7 can help you simplify your PC — it’s simple, fast and easy to use,’ said Gayle Troberman, general manager of consumer engagement and advertising at Microsoft. She went on: ‘Think about metaphors and examples we might use, talking about how simple things are. We’ll be evoking the cast of ‘Family Guy’ in some interesting ways that integrate the product messages.'”

Klaassen reports, “The MacFarlane sponsorship is part of a broader deal with the News corp.-owned network through its Fox ONE multiplatform sales group and also includes 20th Century Fox Television, Fox Licensing and Merchandising, Fox Sports, FX, Fox Sports on MSN and Hulu. Another part of the Fox deal has Microsoft working with its licensing division for a 12-week college tour that will let students try out Windows 7 and receive custom content, such as outdoor movie nights hosted by ‘Family Guy’ characters Stewie and Brian.”

Full article here.

Microsoft’s press release, verbatim:

Microsoft and FOX One to Collaborate on Exclusive Windows 7 Brand Sponsorship of “Family Guy Presents: Seth & Alex’s Almost Live Comedy Show” (Working Title)

Windows 7 to enhance viewing experience of original variety show special airing Sunday, Nov. 8, on FOX; broader multiplatform marketing initiative also encompasses 20th Century Fox Television, Fox Licensing and Merchandising, FOX Sports, FX,, FOX Sports on MSN, and Hulu assets.

REDMOND, Wash., and LOS ANGELES — Oct. 13, 2009 — Today, Microsoft Corp. and FOX One announced an ambitious, unique marketing collaboration that will showcase the best of Windows 7, the newest version of Microsoft’s operating system that will be available in market on Oct. 22. The cornerstone of the effort is the exclusive Windows 7 sponsorship of an upcoming television event devoted to the comedy of Seth MacFarlane, creator of “Family Guy,” “American Dad” and “The Cleveland Show.”

Taking the idea of “commercial-free” to the next level, the original FOX variety special “Family Guy Presents: Seth & Alex’s Almost Live Comedy Show,” (working title) airing Sunday, Nov. 8, at 8:30 p.m. EST and PST and starring MacFarlane and his “Family Guy” co-star Alex Borstein, will deliver simplicity for viewers — no commercial ad time, no network promotions and no commercial breaks — and instead will feature unique Windows 7-branded programming that blends seamlessly with show content. In a network first, MacFarlane and Borstein have teamed with Windows and their agencies, Universal McCann and Crispin, Porter + Bogusky, to develop, write and produce the customized branded integrations that seek to bring the old “Texaco Star Theater”-style sponsorships into the 21st century. The half-hour special will highlight the comedy duo’s subversive and unique humor with original animation, live-action performances of “Family Guy’s” most memorable musical numbers, comedy sketches and surprise celebrity guests. That night, FOX turns the reins over to MacFarlane for an all-MacFarlane lineup as he also hosts all-new episodes of his signature animated series.

While the way people watch TV has evolved, their desire to be entertained, and marketers’ need to deliver compelling content, hasn’t changed. Microsoft and FOX are joining forces to showcase how the power and simplicity of Windows 7 can enhance the content FOX viewers enjoy most, whether it’s comedy, drama, sports or reality programming on TV or on the Web.

“We’re working with FOX on innovative brand integrations that will show how the power and simplicity of Windows 7 can enhance the content FOX viewers love,” said Gayle Troberman, general manager of consumer engagement and advertising at Microsoft. “We have simplified the PC with Windows 7, and together with FOX, we’re simplifying entertainment.”

“We’re thrilled to be joining forces with Windows 7 on such an exciting, highly collaborative marketing campaign featuring the very unique talents of Seth MacFarlane as he overhauls the old Hollywood tradition of the sponsored variety show by marrying Windows 7 messaging with content,” said Jean Rossi, president of FOX One and executive vice president of Sales for FOX. “By partnering with 20th Century Fox Television, Fox Licensing and Merchandising, FOX Sports, FX, FOX Sports on MSN and Hulu, we have developed a complementary initiative that goes well beyond the screen with customized assets that connect consumers with Windows 7.”

In addition to sponsorship of the variety show special, Microsoft and Fox Licensing and Merchandising are working together to reach more than 4.3 million college students in person on campuses across the country. The joint 12-week college tour gives students the chance to try Windows 7 for themselves and enjoy customized entertainment created by Fox Licensing and Merchandising such as outdoor movie nights hosted by “Family Guy’s” Stewie and Brian, online videos, and other customized “Family Guy” content.

Microsoft and FOX One will roll out marketing collaboration efforts with a variety of FOX One properties including 20th Century Fox Television, FOX Sports, FX,, FOX Sports on MSN and Hulu.

Source: Microsoft

MacDailyNews Take: (while Peter is changing Stewie) Stewie: “No, you idiot. That’s not a Baby Ruth, that’s Windows 7. (Peter stares for a full minute in silence then Stewie begins to urinate) Stewie: “Ahhhhh! The ‘wow’ starts now.”

Direct link via YouTube here.


  1. Microsoft must pull all the stops here, and their ad agency is trying their best.

    The worst thing is, regardless of how much money they spend on this show, and how deeply they embed Windows 7 messages, the moment the first 30-second “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ad airs after this show (for example, the day after, during Monday Night Football, or something similar in prime time), it will wipe out any possible fuzzy feeling the viewer may have gained for Windows 7 and remind them how Macs are better.

    I have no doubt, there will be an appropriate counter-ad from the long-running series by TBWA/Chiat/Day.

  2. This can go one of three ways

    1. Family guy will jump the shark
    2. It will not live up to microsofts expectations
    3. Seth won’t follow thru and will actually make fun of windows

    what are u hoping for?

  3. This sounds like a bad idea for MSFT in so many ways. If it was just program sponsorship like soap operas that would be one thing. But I could see this quickly turning into a silly show of product placement.
    I really feel sad for the ineptness of MSFT.

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