Earlier this year, I was contacted by a start-up called Filmmortal that had an interesting agenda: The site serves as a middleman between filmmakers and companies interested in product placement. It helps producers build their budgets with sponsorships while connecting companies selling products that might fit the movie environments. Naturally, the driving motive here is capitalistic rather than creative, but it does help filmmakers in desperate need of financial assistance -- and there are ways to place a product without necessarily degrading the quality of the movie itself (as far as I know, only Wayne's World got away with combining sly self-parody and actual product placement).
Well, I think the folks at Microsoft could use a service like Filmmortal. First, they hired Bobcat Goldthwait to direct a series of hilariously over-the-top browser commercials, and wound up deleting one that contained a porn element. Now, they've retracted a decision to sponsor a commercial-free episode of Family Guy because they found Seth McFarlane's comedic tendencies to be distasteful.
Seriously, Family Guy? Was nobody able to clue them in?
It's less surprising that McFarlane would allow his program to become a tool of corporate machinations (but I don't think The Simpsons would ever sell an entire episode like this). If Family Guy is up for grabs, the right people ought to grab it.