Microsoft was an enormous advertiser -- spending more than $1.8 billion in the U.S. during 2013, according to Ad Age Datacenter -- but it had never bought a national ad during the big game before Super Bowl XLVIII.
Its debut was a tear-jerker starring former NFL player Steve Gleason, battling Lou Gehrig's disease and using eye-tracking on a Surface Pro tablet to speak. Why did the company jump into Super Bowl advertising for 2014? Spokesman Lou Gellos said Microsoft's Xbox and Surface are NFL sponsors and noted that Bing is a partner with the Seattle Seahawks, who played the Denver Broncos for the championship. "It seemed like the logical next step," he told Ad Age then. "It didn't hurt that our local team is in the game."
The company didn’t release the final ad before the game, but did post three vignettes ahead of time, including scenes with Gleason. Microsoft archrival Apple was rumored to be heading for a surprise Super Bowl buy that year, but wound up skipping the game (it didn’t yet own Beats, which was there) and releasing something a little similar to Microsoft’s spot the next day. Microsoft returned to the game in 2015 with two spots continuing themes of empowerment.Send credit info to [email protected].