Software giant Microsoft Corp. said Tuesday it was investigating how two in-house training videos made by British comedian Ricky Gervais, creator of 'The Office' television series, appeared on two Web sites.
The videos, which popped up on YouTube and Google Video this month, were commissioned by Microsoft in 2004 as “a lighthearted way of getting our staff to think about the values they attach to working at Microsoft,” a spokeswoman said.
The British series ended in 2003 with Gervais and co-writer Stephen Merchant saying there would be no further series.
(MSNBC.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal News.)
The Office is a mock documentary set in a company whose politically incorrect manager, David Brent, believes, wrongly, he is amusing and popular.
By Tuesday the videos had been pulled off the online video-sharing site YouTube. It remained on Google Video and Microsoft declined to say if it had try to have it pulled from that site.
“These videos were produced for internal use and were never intended to be viewed by the public,” said the company’s spokeswoman. “We are actively working to investigate how and why they have appeared now,” the spokeswoman said.
She refused to say why the company opposed the airing of the clips on the video-sharing sites.
The spoof videos, running about 20 minutes each, feature Gervais as his character from the show, David Brent, discussing values at work with Merchant, acting as a Microsoft employee.
In the first, the two men consider topics including balancing sex and work, wearing short skirts in the office, and keeping creative ideas to oneself. They also poke fun at software geeks and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
In the second video, Gervais, as Brent, explains how employees could work better, such as using time and facilities at work to find a new job.
A U.S. adaptation of ’The Office’, starring Steve Carell as the cluelessly offensive boss, won an Emmy award for best comedy series on Sunday, while a Canadian version of the show in French, titled ’Le Job’, will be broadcast later this year.