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.
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