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Microsoft's 'Find Your Joy' holiday ad just left me feeling sad

Microsoft Dog Commercial
Microsoft Dog Commercial (Image credit: Microsoft)

What do Halo, Microsoft Teams, Minecraft, and Microsoft Flight Simulator have in common? They're all more important than your dog, at least according to this year's holiday ad from Microsoft.

The latest ad shows an adorable dog going from family member to family member trying to get attention. The first person is too busy playing Halo to even look at the dog. The dog then walks over to another member of the family that's on a Microsoft Teams call. She at least looks at it and pets it (but just once!). The furry family member then trots over to someone playing Minecraft. She looks at the dog but doesn't even pet it.

In a last-ditch effort to get affection, the dog goes to someone playing Microsoft Flight Simulator. Like many of the other members of the family, the gamer doesn't give the dog a glance.

The sad dog then longingly looks out the window to see another dog that seems to be in the same predicament. He then lays down and falls asleep on the sofa. In dreamland, the dog and its friend across the street are playing video games. First, they're in Flight Simulator in what appears to be an homage to Snoopy and the Red Baron. They then jump into Minecraft and then onto a Microsoft Teams meeting with a bunch of other dogs. They then fetch a live grenade for Master Chief (!) and play in some more games. The star of the ad even rolls around on a Windows desktop.

And then, the ad just ... ends with the dog asleep dreaming about having fun.

Microsoft's ad concludes with the line "This holiday, find your joy," but the ad did anything but for me. I recognize that it's supposed to be a fun little ad about dogs playing video games and using other Microsoft technology, but it's actually a sad ad that left me feeling like I need to take a break to hug my dogs.

You might think that the ad is about the dog going to the people and wishing that it could play games and use the technology, but that's not really what the ad illustrates. The dog is clearly looking at the people, not their tech.

I expected the ad to end with one of the people playing with the dog or at least cuddling it as it fell asleep. So much for that. The dog literally wasn't even looked at by most of the people in the commercial.

Charlie Dog Sleeping

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

I type this admittedly reactionary piece about two feet from my dog, Charlie. He sits at my feet every day as I work from home. Another bed is next to him for when his big brother Ruben wants to come up, but Ruben can be a loner during the day.

I'm not saying I can always drop everything for my dogs, but if they come up to me asking for attention, I at least pet them, or cuddle them, or do something. I don't just ignore them entirely. Even if I am too busy with work or something I can't interrupt, I go and spend time with my dogs later.

Maybe this fictional family does that after the ad finishes, but Microsoft doesn't show it. And that's a real bummer.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

29 Comments
  • I agree! Who came up with this ad? It didn't make me want to go buy more Microsoft products, it made me want to cancel and get rid of many of them. Even sadder is the disconnect of the humans in this ad. None of them are interacting either. Christmas is about family interaction. This commercial was an ode to loneliness with a tagline to find joy? How important Microsoft must feel about itself that isolated interaction with Microsoft products is portrayed as more joyful than familial interaction. The dog eventually finds joy in a virtual world with a virtual romance playing virtual games in a dream? Really? There's is a lot of subliminal truth to this ad and it's a terrible indictment of the current status of human interaction with pets as well as among family members.
  • Good piece Sean. Microsoft really missed the mark on this one. In an age where a global pandemic has forced families and friends to physically disconnect, forgo fellowships and customary interactions and churches to relegate congregating online grateful for the virtual platforms that mimic physical gatherings, and many, many, many people have lost loved ones with whom they will never be able to share in experiences again, this ad which highlights opportunities to interact with and share experiences with a dog desperately seeking what we have all lost to some degree or another this year, opportunities which are ignored as each individual family member is independently absorbed in Microsoft tech which is, according to Microsoft, supposed to help us "Do More, " amplifies the and highlights the isolating aspects of this pandemic. Microsoft should have taken the opportunity to show how thier tech connects us to one another. Done properly with an emotional and holiday appeal could have had a moving impact. Instead we see Surfaces secluding individuals to independent activities ignoring a pet that longingly attempts to pull them away from thier isolation to connect with him. Yeah, Microsoft should have thought this one through a little further.
  • Microsoft's ads are usually pretty good...this is surprisingly ... odd. So somber and sad. I'm looking over at one of my cats as I write this, sleeping in a heated bed beside me. Cats are not nearly as independent as people seem to think, and unless I'm in a meeting, I try to stop what I'm doing and give them attention when they seek it. That said, there's a sad truth to this ad which should give all of us pause. In the end, it's easier to plug into your own joy rather than compromising in order to interact with others. Our technology allows us to tailor our experiences to our own likings. In some ways, that's empowering, in others, limiting. I think we all see a little of ourselves in this ad which makes it sad at a personal level. If they cut out the dream sequence and ended with a message about finding time for each other this holiday season (and beyond), I believe they would have an advert that would make us think, and potentially, hit pause a little more frequently.
  • How can a company with a market cap over $1.6 trillion be so bad at marketing? At least they used a dog instead of a toddler.
  • Sean Endicott's dog is cuter. Fight me.
  • I will not fight you for stating the truth.
  • But I wanna fight!
  • Yea, put me in the totally agree with you camp. Microsoft is either tone deaf, or worse, actually believes that video games are more important than the love of pets (and friends, and family, ...). Bad, bad Microsoft.
  • Make that "yeah" not "yea."
  • Does it matter?
  • No. https://www.thefreedictionary.com/yea
  • That type of ad gives the chance to it's competitors especially when it comes to XBSX vs PS5.
  • people would rather play with their pets than use the competitors products.
    But with Microsoft products they are so joyful and engaging you forget all about your pets!
  • This is a complete overreaction to an average commercial. The message that each family member have found their MSFT place and the one lone family member needs to find his own. Each MSFT is communicating to the outside world in some fashion via a MSFT product. it is not loss on me that MSFT could have done better to capture the time and how their products fit for this time. However, this isn't a complete tone deaf ad like the article makes out. It is merely a disagreement between people who lean to caring for animals like they are people and those who don't. Also, don't let it be loss that MSFT put their money where there mouth was a made the family an middle class black family.
  • I agree. If they wanted this commercial to land, all they had to do was start with the dog dreaming and playing games. Then it would be just a cut and fun commercial about a dog wanting to have fun. Instead, the beginning just made me sad. I did hug my dog after that.
  • I have to disagree with the overall take. I saw a message there that, as fun as it is to be playing all these games and working with these tools that Microsoft provides, we shouldn't forget to stop and pay attention to the pets (and people) around us in real life, especially those that can only wish they could play with us, too. And it seems to have prompted the author here to think about their dogs and how they give them attention; so on that note, I'd say it worked. And how could you not laugh at the (implied) look on Master Chief's visor when the dog happily fetches the grenade?
  • So I showed the commercial to my dog three times and he runs around and jumps up and down on the couch in a playful manner. When I showed him the latest Apple commercial he turned over and played dead. So as for my dog he thought the Microsoft commercial was a hit.
  • but the dog saw another dog in the ms commercial so idk
  • but the dog in the commercial saw another dog in the commercial, just like we have to see most people in a window on a screen nowadays on our devices, it all makes sense now to make the best of it
  • the dog finds much more joy dreaming about using various Microsoft products and services than it ever could by interacting with its ingrateful humans.
  • It's what every dog dreams of.
  • I actually loved the commercial and it made me smile. I haven’t been able to visit friends or family this year due to the pandemic so I too, like the dog, have dreamed wonderful dreams of spending time with my family and friends. The commercial was showing that just like responsible humans affected by the pandemic, not being able to be together outside of their own family, stuck on Teams calls, making the best to escape the horrors of this time of life by indulging in gaming and whatever else brings joy, our pets have a similar disconnect but they cannot express it the same way we can. I love that the dog got a chance to find joy with his best friend in his dreams because just like in real life, some of our pets haven’t seen each other since March 2020. Each person looks at life differently but for me, this is one of my favorite Microsoft commercials and it have me the biggest, much needed smile today.
  • I think it would have been better if they all (humans and dog) for together for a holiday meal. In fact I imagine that's what they had in mind. But maybe that would have been insensitive to all those who can't be with their families this year due to Covid. The US death rate keeps rising...
  • Wow. 2020 really ruined some of you. I read this article and the comments before seeing the commercial and I agree with the later comments. Neat ad that was melancholy and then fun. Not a dog owner, but I love them and in general they me. I think the general message here is enjoy yourself. Instead, you guys tried to ruin it.
  • Exactly. I think the msg was everyone is alone this year even animals can't interact with other animals like they used to. Hence using msft products to enjoy themselves a little in this pandemic.
  • This was the wrong year for a melancholy ad...READ THE ROOM, MSFT!!!
  • Looks like too many people at MS don't own a dog or cat and therefore didn't ask someone who did what they thought of the ad; or they ignored any critique they received regarding the dogs in the ad. How clueless.
  • Geez...... People are taking this commercial way too seriously. It's just a light-hearted commercial that Microsoft used to show what products they have that can be used and enjoyed within the household. Some of you act as if this is an animal cruelty video. Wow. People are just too sensitive nowadays. I saw on the news this morning that there was backlash from Hershey's new Hershey's kiss Christmas commercia, l because during the part where the Hershey's kisses we're doing the *we wish you a Merry Christmas" jingle, a little girl grab one of the Hershey's kisses and put on the top of a cookie cake that she was about to bake and people on social media had a meltdown because they felt that it ruined tradition. So now Hershey's has to air both versions to appease everyone. This is the reason why the entertainment industry has become so stagnant. They're afraid to do anything new out of fear of backlash so they just stick to the safe sequels and rehashes of movies and video games. People need to get a grip
  • I so appreciate you posting this response. When this ad came on last night, both my wife and I were dumbfounded. All we could see is how the people were so lost to their devices that they couldn't recognize the needs of their dog. All it seemed to depict was isolation from one another and from an animal that's utterly dependent on them. Isolated from contact, care, love, belonging, support, kindness and compassion. I keep wondering how on Earth anyone thought this ad was a good idea.