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Microsoft's Ad Scores in Super Bowl XLVIII

No doubt people are feeling euphoric in Redmond and throughout the Pacific Northwest today with their beloved Seattle Seahawks -- owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen -- trouncing the favored Denver Broncos and winning the Super Bowl. Microsoft also scored a victory of sorts last night with its one-minute commercial. This is the first time Microsoft has aired a Super Bowl spot.

Maybe the commercial wasn't the winner (especially if you're a Seinfeld or Steve Colbert fan) but it's about time Microsoft stepped up and strutted its stuff in front of one of the biggest audiences it can capture in one snap, so to speak. It joined companies during and since the dotcom bubble that have strutted their stuff in Super Bowl commercials including Apple, Dell, Google, HP, IBM, Oracle, Salesforce.com and SAP.

Many companies spend tens of millions of dollars to produce and run commercials for the Super Bowl and that can do a number on your ad budget. But Microsoft's advertising budget was estimated at a hefty $1.23 billion in 2012, according to Ad Age, which described last night's spot as a "tear jerker." The commercial got favorable reviews on social media as well, even by some who are not necessarily Microsoft fans. As Microsoft is about to engage in one of the most significant leadership transitions in the company's history and its home team playing for the Lombardi trophy, what better time for it to redeem itself to the world?

The emotional ad showcased former New Orleans Saints legend Steve Gleason, who now suffers from ALS, the debilitating condition known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Gleason narrated "what technology can do," subtly showcasing how he dictated commands while using eye-tracking technology with his Surface Pro and how doctors use Microsoft's Kinect motion sensors in operating rooms.

The spot also showcased "how Skype brings children around the world together to learn how physically challenged people can continue to pursue their passions in life with the help of technology and the particularly moving story of a mother gaining the ability to hear for the first time," said Mark Penn, Microsoft's executive vice president for advertising and strategy in a blog post. "These are real people telling their own stories in their own words and we hope you feel as inspired by them as we do."

A one-minute commercial isn't going to convince critics or those passive about technology that Microsoft is still in the game. But remember if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, some may argue it didn't really fall. So if it reminded some that Microsoft still has fuel in its tank, it was probably was worth the $4 million it spent (at least) on the commercial especially as Microsoft is set to announce its new CEO (which could come as early as this week). At the same time, Microsoft needs to continue to get the word out on what it offers and where it's going.

What did you think of last night's commercial?

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 02/03/2014 at 10:56 AM


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