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After a Divisive Year, Microsoft Highlights Inspiring People in Its Holiday Ad

By Published on .

Mass shootings, terror attacks, police-related violence, racial tension, protests, the presidential election, Brexit: 2016 has been a divisive year. But Microsoft's new holiday spot aims to promote positivity by bringing together inspiring individuals to create a piece of art.

Its "Art of Harmony" ad, which will start airing nationwide today, shows seven people who have been standing up for causes they believe in using Microsoft's Surface Studio to make a collaborative drawing. The final product is displayed at the end of the video on Jane's Carousel in Dumbo, Brooklyn, followed by the words, "When the world seems divided, coming together can be a beautiful thing."

"We knew it's been a rough year and people have been exposed to a lot of challenging issues," said Kathleen Hall, corporate VP of brand advertising and research at Microsoft. "We hope this gives people some positivity and hope in the season which is what it should be about."

The 60-second commercial will run on networks including NBC, ABC and Fox, and a 90-second version will live online. Microsoft will also run the ad in global markets such as the U.K., France and Germany. Ms. Hall said last year's holiday ad that called for a truce with Apple was picked up in 90 countries. She declined to disclose budget information for the ad, but said it was "pretty scrappy."

M:United/McCann New York, which Ms. Hall called Microsoft's "creative partner and driver," developed the spot. Waggener Edstrom, Microsoft's communications partner, is handling PR for the ad. On the social media front, Microsoft will focus mainly on Facebook and YouTube.

Microsoft selected the commercial's subjects from people in the public eye this year, such as Florida police officer Bobby White, who was dubbed the "basketball cop" for a video that showed him shooting hoops with local kids rather than getting them in trouble after a complaint.

Other participants include poet and activist Mona Haydar; teenager Jazz Jennings, who documents her trans experiences on TLC's "I Am Jazz"; Migrant Offshore Aid Station emergency relief worker Christopher Catrambone; West African refugee artist Hawa Diallo; elementary school student Zea Bowling, who became known for standing up to a teacher during a Pride celebration; and nine-year-old Zianna Oliphant, who took the internet by storm in September for her equality plea to the Charlotte City Council following violent protests related to the shooting of Keith Scott.

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