Historical Analysis: Heroic Women of Microsoft


I first saw this commercial while watching the Golden Globes, an award show that rewards the hard work of actors, and all those that come together from different parts of the entertainment industry to make and produce the films made that year. From costume designers, to those that compose the songs sung on animated films all are taken in to consideration for possible awards. Being that this show covers so many aspects of the film industry its audience is composed not only of those that love the actors, but many others as well with interests in the various departments of the industry. This show airs once a year and it occurs as part of a cluster of other award shows that air annually, because of this there is a lot of publicity promoting the show and creating anticipation in the viewers. This, of course, impacts the types of ads we see during commercial breaks.


This particular ad surrounds small clips and some quotes of the women who stood out the most for their brave acts during the year 2014. Women young and old, from different parts of the planet, and who did what they did for certain causes were recognized in this advert for Microsoft. As I watched the ad I recognized the women, as I am sure many others viewing this commercial joined me in doing. I did not know who was behind this compilation of images, and when in the end I saw that it was Microsoft I was a bit confused.


Stylistically this advertisement does not conform to the ‘hard sell’ approach that’s most commonly seen in depression era, nor is it based largely on inspiring patriotism like ads that were distributed during WWII. This particular ad resonates more with post-war advertisements that don’t really work to inform you about the product, or how one stands to benefit from purchasing it; rather it implies that it somehow supports the women that were seen to be generally brave during the year 2013.


Contemporary advertising doesn’t particularly strive to inform you of the product in question. This is not to say that this is excluded completely from ads, but it is not necessarily the main priority of the advert. Instead tactics, like the song “Brave” by Sara Bareilles which has been performed on many of the most recent widely seen special television programs (CNN Heroes, Grammy’s etc), are used to catch the attention of the viewer/consumer. Music, and other cultural references along with the implication of somehow showing support for the causes these women represent are other such tactics that add meaning to this commercial advertisement. Still, these tactics succeed in making this commercial memorable, but in the end leave us at a loss as to the relationship between the people depicted in the commercial and the brand being advertised.


This ad dematerializes all that we associate with Microsoft on a daily basis. It is a  household name that we associate with technology, computers, and software – not with women challenging  the status quo. Yet somehow this ad, by very obviously dodging our expectation of wanting to instantly know what we are looking at, has remained etched in my mind; even if I still don’t see the connection between these women and this brand.


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