Only one spot jumped out at me in this year’s Super Bowl as unequivocally “great.” And that’s the Microsoft Xbox spot featuring their Adaptive Controller. I loved that it was not a brand hopping on the social-justice bandwagon-of-the-month and instead was a brand actually innovating and actually solving a real social problem.
Here’s the spot in case it came on when you were getting the wings out of the oven:
Can you think of a better line?
The children in this spot are terrific. They are charming, brimming with personality and clearly heroic in how they’re dealing with their disabilities. But to me the power of this spot is the line, “When everybody plays, we all win.”
Ahhh, such a fantastic line because it gives us a clear window into what motivated Microsoft to create the Adaptive Controller. It’s their Simon Sinek “Why” in full force. It transforms the ad from a nice product ad without brand into a powerful brand ad where the product is proof.
In fact, “When everybody plays, we all win” could work for the entire Xbox brand, if you think about it. At the highest level Xbox simply believes that world becomes an increasingly better place the more people are playing video games. Some moms might disagree, but most will respect a brand who believes in what they’re doing with that kind of enthusiasm. In the context of this ad, which focuses on these incredible children with disabilities, the line is even more profound.
When Owen’s dad says, “One of the biggest fears early on was how will Owen be viewed by the other kids?” [emotional pause] “He’s not different when he plays.”
So, yes, it’s an innovative Adaptive Controller. And that ladders up to the benefit of allowing children with disabilities to play video games. But what that ladders up to is allowing children like Owen, Grover, Sean, Taylor and Ian to feel like all the other kids.
But that’s not even it. There’s another even higher rung in this messaging ladder.
It’s really about the power of Microsoft technology.
You may have noticed the ad wisely ends with the Microsoft logo, not the Xbox logo. That’s because this isn’t really an Xbox ad, it’s a Microsoft ad that includes Xbox as a supporting point.
The purpose of this ad is not to sell more Adaptive Controllers, though I’m sure Microsoft will do exactly that. The purpose of this ad is to communicate that Microsoft–Microsoft–is doing important things with their innovative technology.
They are doing things with technology that improve a group of people’s lives. They are helping children with disabilities feel like all the other kids. It’s a social cause, to be sure. But Microsoft isn’t just talking about it, they’re doing something about it.
Great cause marketing and not a bandwagon in sight.