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Microsoft's Super Bowl ad might make you cry (in a good way)

In an ad featuring a voiceover from former NFL player Steve Gleason, who now suffers from ALS, Microsoft surfaces empowerment that might remind some of an old Microsoft campaign.

2 min read
A statement of intent? Microsoft/YouTube Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

The greatest struggle for Microsoft over many years has been to imbue the brand with some deep human values.

All too often, its consumer advertising has lurched from the mundane to the half-witted.

However, for the Super Bowl, the company has created an ad that is both moving and uplifting and presents its role in a hearteningly innovative light. It will surely incite a sniffle or two. A good sniffle, that is.

The ad is voiced by former NFL safety Steve Gleason, who now suffers from ALS. Microsoft has already created a longer ad featuring him (video below).

But here we see Microsoft trying to claim at least a little of the territory that brings technology together with humanity.

It's a place currently occupied by Apple and Google, but Microsoft could have made it far more its own if Bill Gates had continued with the "Where Do You Want To Go Today?" campaign in the '90s.

In those days, perhaps Microsoft didn't understand feelings. This ad, however, shows that Redmond understands their necessity.

Seeing Gleason use the Surface is unquestionably the best ad the innovative product has so far enjoyed.

More than that, however, seeing Microsoft asking the fundamental questions about technology's role suggests that it intends to actively pursue playing an emotional part in people's lives.

One ad won't suddenly change everything.

However, this is the company that, not too long ago, offered up dancing teenies (and, gasp, business people) to launch its most important piece of hardware for many a year.

Here, at least, is an attitude that the company's soon-to-be-named new CEO can surely embrace. Just as, I fancy, quite a few people chewing on their chips will on Sunday.