Microsoft’s Super Bowl Ad Celebrates Katie Sowers, the Big Game’s Pioneering Coach

She's the first woman to lead on football's biggest stage

Katie Sowers, offensive assistant coach for the San Francisco 49ers, had dreamed of being on a football team as a child. Microsoft
Headshot of David Griner

At this year’s Super Bowl, one of the most inspiring stories in an ad will also be playing out on the field.

Katie Sowers, offensive assistant coach for the San Francisco 49ers, will be the focus of Microsoft’s Super Bowl ad, a 60-second spot from agency McCann about her journey from a childhood passion for football to becoming the first woman to coach in the Big Game.

“We are so honored to have the opportunity to share and be a part of Katie’s story,” said Kathleen Hall, corporate vice president of brand, advertising and research for Microsoft. “She is an inspiration to all of us and hopefully to those watching.”

The ad begins with Sowers reading from her own writing as a child, when she hoped to someday play on “a real football team.”

The Kansas native began playing football at age 8 and remained passionate about the sport throughout her youth. She went on to earn a master’s degree at the University of Central Missouri, and then played for two teams in the Women’s Football Alliance before retiring in 2016 after to a hip injury.

Soon after, she began interning with the Atlanta Falcons before being recruited by the 49ers in 2017 through the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship. In addition to being the Super Bowl’s first female coach, she will also be the first openly gay coach in the Big Game.

“I want anyone who sees my story, not just women, to know that anything is possible if you truly believe it and work for it,” Sowers said in a statement about the ad. “Your gender, your sexual orientation, your skin color—those are all just a part of what makes you who you are. Those things should never limit how far you can go in this world.”

Even if the 49ers had not made it to the Super Bowl, where they will face the Kansas City Chiefs, Sowers would already have had a story worth telling. This season, she became the first woman to coach in the NFL Playoffs, and Microsoft celebrated her accomplishment with a 30-second spot in early January about her career and her use of the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 tablet.

The Super Bowl ad will expand on the earlier spot, and sources involved with the ad’s creation told Adweek that Microsoft would have run some version of the spot in the Big Game regardless of whether the 49ers made it to the season’s ultimate matchup.

“I am happy to share my story with so many, knowing that by just allowing the world to see how far I have come, so many others can begin their own path on a journey they may have never even known existed,” Sowers said.

The spot was directed by Peter Berg, best known for directing 2004’s Friday Night Lights film, which he adapted into a hit TV show.

Berg is a frequent presence in high-profile ads, including two in the 2019 Super Bowl: one for the NFL and one for Verizon.

For all the latest Super Bowl advertising news—who’s in, who’s out, teasers, full ads and more—check out Adweek’s Super Bowl 2020 Ad Tracker. And join us on the evening of Feb. 2 for the best live coverage of the commercials anywhere.

CREDITS:

Client: Microsoft

Kathleen Hall – Corporate Vice President of Brand, Advertising and Research

Deana Singleton – GM, Global Advertising

Jenny Leahy – Director, Social and Media Partnerships

Danna Brokaw – Senior Marketing Manager

Ashley Castellanos – Senior Marketing Manager

Veronica Mao – Senior Marketing Manager

Kecia Classen – Global Brand and Digital Marketing Manager

Natalie Thompson – Senior Marketing Communications Manager

Agency: McCann New York

Creative

Sean Bryan – Co-Chief Creative Officer

Tom Murphy – Co-Chief Creative Officer

Shayne Millington – EVP, Global Executive Creative Director

Dabo Ché – Creative Director

Gabrielle Shirdan – VP, Creative Director

Geoff Bentz – VP, Creative Director

Nic Howell – VP, Creative Director

Nick Ciomperlik – Associate Creative Director

Ricardo Muñoz – Associate Creative Director

David Perea – Associate Creative Director

Nickie Thongton – Associate Creative Director

Chris Mitton – EVP, Executive Creative Director

Michael Aimette – Executive Creative Director

Business Leadership

Kevin Nelson – Managing Director

Tina Galley – EVP, Executive Account Director

Rosemary Calderone – SVP, Executive Account Director

Ellie Choi – Account Director

Alex Cho – Account Supervisor

Communications

Jeremy Miller – Chief Communications Officer

Project Management

Stella Warkman – SVP, Director of Project Management

Lauren Kosche – Senior Project Manager

Strategy

Ash Farr – EVP, Global Director, Strategy and Research

Jordan Berger – Strategy Director

Production

Carolyn Johnson – SVP, Head of Integrated Production

Rebecca Magner – Senior Producer

Nina Roussarie – Senior Producer

Morgan Edstrom – Producer

Caroline Sollmann – Art Producer

Eric David Johnson – SVP, Executive Music Producer

Business Affairs

David Halberstadt – Business Manager

Production Company: Film 47

Peter Berg – Director

Helga Gruber – Executive Producer

Taylor Steadman – Line Producer

Vic Palumbo – President

Editorial: No6 // Rock Paper Scissors

James Duffy – Editor (No6)

Frank Snider – Editor (RPS)

Damion Clayton – Editor (RPS)

Audio: Sonic Union

EP: Justine Cortale

Producer: Patrick Sullivan

Audio Engineer: Rob Ballingall

Post/VFX: Method Studios NY

EP: Graham Dunglinson

Producer: Hayley Wallach & Alyssa Giuliano

VFX Supervisor/ECD: Randie Swanberg

VFX Team: Margolit Steiner, Chihcheng Peng, Kevin Quinlan, Brandon Danowski, Yoshiko Hirata, Mark Woit, Matt Welch, Cecilie, Aaron Neitz, Pilan Lectez

AE Animator: Steven Lee

Color: Company 3 LA

Senior Colorist: Stefan Sonnenfeld

Senior Producer: Gabriel Wakeman

Executive Producer: Ashley McKim

Music: JSM

Joel Simon – CEO/CCO/Co-composer

Jeff Fiorello – VP/Executive Producer

Nathan Padgett – Co-Composer

Norm Felker – Producer

Andrew Manning – Producer

Wasserman Media Group

Maggie Lanter – Senior Manager, Brands

Samantha Branman – Manager, Brands

WE Communications

Chelsea Hawkins – Account Manager


@griner david.griner@adweek.com David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."
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