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Microsoft spends big with two new Super Bowl ads

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Microsoft is back at the Super Bowl tonight with super cash. The software giant is airing two new commercials that build on the "empowering" campaign that the company kicked off last year. Given NBC asks for between $4.4 million and $4.5 million per 30-second slot, it's safe to say Microsoft is spending millions for two 60-second ads.

This is only the second time that Microsoft has aired a national Super Bowl ad, and this time around it’s bringing in the voice of Common, an American hip-hop recording artist, to narrate passages from speeches delivered by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Both of Microsoft’s Super Bowl ads will run for 60 seconds during today’s game between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots, and they start by asking what can you do?

The theme is very similar to last year, and the first ad centers on Estella Pyfrom, founder of Estella’s Brilliant Bus. Raised in an underprivileged household, Pyfrom is passionate about improving the standard of living for underprivileged families. Pyfrom founded Estella’s Brilliant Bus as a mobile learning center that travels to communities and delivers technology straight to their doorsteps. Microsoft's second Super Bowl commercial focuses on Braylon O'Neill. Born missing tibia and fibula bones in both of his legs, six-year-old O’Neill is now playing sports thanks to technology and prosthetic legs.

Last year’s commercial was also focused on the idea of "empowering" people through software and services, and signaled Microsoft’s attempt to remind the world why its own software still matters. This year's might not be as epic as Mophie’s creative masterpiece or Kim Kardashian’s self-parody for T-Mobile, but it's clearly designed to continue the idea of a "new" Microsoft, and one that's ready to be loved by the masses. Alongside Pyfrom and O'Neill's stories there are also hints at other similar anecdotes that form a prominent Microsoft logo during the commercial. Microsoft is showcasing a number of them at its new "empowering" site, including those used during the 2014 Super Bowl.

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