Microsoft, God win Super Bowl battle of tech-targeted ads

Super Bowl watchers

There's a proud tradition of technology companies using the Super Bowl to capture the attention of America (and the world). Sometimes it happens in a remarkable (or at least memorable) fashion, like when Ridley Scott introduced the world to Apple's revolutionary new Macintosh waaay back in 1984.

 

Other ads are less impactful (if still memorable), like the tone deaf 2000 commercial that attempted to illustrate the work of IT products and services vendor Electronic Data Systems (EDS) using the folksy idiom about herding cats. Mixing cats and cowboys is cute, but even geeks of yore probably couldn't have told you what EDS (purchased by HP in 2008) was getting at.

 

Tech companies had a smaller presence in 2015 than in some past years, but there were still plenty of ads with a notable IT slant. None of it has any direct (or even indirect, really) bearing on certification, but come on, Super Bowl commercials are fun, even if you don't care about football at all.

 

The Big Game's big IT winner is probably Microsoft, which ran two ads about how technology improves lives. Both were narrated by hip-hop icon and occasional actor Common (who recently took a sizeable supporting role in the Civil Rights Era drama Selma), pitching Microsoft's message that "We're going to empower every individual and every organization to do more and achieve more."

 

The first Microsoft spot to air features Braylon O'Neill, a boy whose IT-engineered prosthetic legs have helped him enjoy a normal life. The perhaps more impactful spot features technology evangelist Estella Pyfrom, who founded Estella's Brilliant Bus to take technology education to kids at schools without big IT budgets.

 

On the web development side of things, there was a three-way, or perhaps more like two-and-a-half-way battle waged for the eyeballs of do-it-yourselfers preparing to create a website. Longtime Super Bowl provocateur GoDaddy pulled a controversial ad featuring puppies and played it safe with a much tamer spot about a self-made man (let's call him "zero-layer dip guy") using one-stop-shop GoDaddy to secure his domain and create a website.

 

The real web-development throwdown, however, was between Wix and Squarescape. Wix arguably did a better job of selling itself as a build-your-own website tool, playing to the crowd by envisioning the post-pro-football aspirations of former NFL stars Brett Favre (still not 100 percent retired from football, at least in his own mind), Terrell Owens, Franco Harris, Emmett Smith and Larry Allen.

 

Squarescape, perhaps channeling the memorably obfuscatory spirit of EDS, dialed up greying movie star Jeff Bridges and his apparently real website devoted to selling a "sounds of sleep" audio recording to help you get a better night's rest. (Proceeds support Bridges' long-established interest in combatting child hunger.) The ad itself features Bridges doing a Hindu chant seated beside the bed of a happily slumbering couple. It's actually a little creepy, even with Bridges being a highly entertaining actor and (by most reports) all-around good guy.

 

You probably won't squirm even a little, on the other hand, watching the Big Game big winner that features the Big Guy himself. The juice genies at Mophie pubbed up their power-imparting battery pack for smartphones and tablets by suggesting some of the things that might go wrong if what you might call the Universe's Most Important Smartphone were to run out of power.

 

It seems likely that there's already a celestial back-up power supply, but you never know. The Creator of Everything probably has a lot on his mind. Maybe he just forgot to plug in before going to sleep last night.

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About the Author

GoCertify's mission is to help both students and working professionals get IT certifications. GoCertify was founded in 1998 by Anne Martinez.