Microsoft Win Again With Inspirational Tale

For the second year in a row, Microsoft made the most emotionally effective Super Bowl ad. Last year’s “Every Body Wins” put the spotlight on disabled gamers and how the company’s tech let them play together with their friends. This year, they moved from players to coach, with a profile of Katie Sowers, the 49ers’ assistant offensive coach. 

On Sunday night, Sowers became the first woman to coach at a Super Bowl, an achievement Microsoft celebrated with their ad. For every pioneering achievement, somebody has to “be the one” and do it first. In this case, it was Katie. The ad tells her story in her own words, with plenty of archive footage, letting the fun side of her personality come across alongside her determination and professional pride. It’s this mix that makes it feel like an authentic, inspiring story for anyone, not just football fans.

It’s not the first time an inspirational story of female sporting achievement has topped the Super Bowl list. Two years ago, NBC’s story of skier Michaela Schifrin – a trailer for the Winter Olympics – beat all-comers for emotional response. But Microsoft have achieved 5-Stars this time in a year where the tide is generally going out on inspirational and purposeful ads – there’s only one other in our Top 10 (Secret, with another ad focusing on women in sport). Most of the 4- and 5-Star commercials this year have leaned heavily on humour, celebrities, or both.

The bar for inspirational ads has been raised – simply including first responders, those in service, or high achieving women and expecting to tug on emotional strings isn’t enough without a strong, individual story behind them. The success of “Be The One”, though, shows that if you can tell the right story at the right time, you can still uplift audiences.

You can see our full list of the Super Bowl ads here.

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