At least give Microsoft some credit for reaching out to new audience types: Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane is creating a 30-minute comedy variety show/infomercial that will promote Windows 7 on the Fox TV network. The show, which will be modeled after Milton Berle's 1950s variety show Texaco Star Theater, will air November 8 on prime-time TV.
"We'll be evoking the cast of Family Guy in some interesting ways that integrate the product messages," Microsoft General Manager Gayle Trobeman says. "You'll see us deeply integrated into the content, \[and\] you'll hear a lot about how Windows 7 can help you simplify your PC. It's simple, fast, and easy to use."
The show is called Family Guy Presents: Seth & Alex's Almost Live Comedy Show and will star both Seth MacFarlane and Alex Borstein, who does voice work on MacFarlane's shows. It will run without commercials. But of course it is a giant commercial, so don't get too excited about that.
And you thought MacFarlane had stretched himself too thin with The Cleveland Show, an unnecessary third Sunday night show created in the (almost too exact) same vein as Family Guy and American Dad. Actually, he did, but that's beside the point.
Although thoughts of Family Guy characters such as Stewie and Brian pitching Windows 7 will be abhorrent to some—and, for the record, that's exactly what's going to happen—the deal with MacFarlane is only a piece of Microsoft's advertising plan for Windows 7. The software giant is also working with various other entertainment properties owned by News Corp.—including 20th Century Fox Television, Fox Licensing and Merchandising, Fox Sports, FX, and Hulu—to promote its next OS. And Microsoft is sponsoring a 12-week college tour as well.
What this all adds up to is one of the "largest consumer-advertising investments the company has made," in the words of Trobeman. And the Hollywood component is based on the success that Microsoft had in its "branded entertainment" advertising with the Bing search engine earlier this year.
"Seeing is really believing," Trobeman added. "That's a lot of what you'll see us do in the advertising and the branded integration: Give people a chance to see the product and interact with the product."