Microsoft sleighs ’em again in holiday ad as girl uses translation technology to speak to reindeer

It’s one thing to leave a note for Santa and hope for some sort of reply. It’s quite another to use technology to try to speak to some reindeer.

But Microsoft is going there this holiday season with a new advertisement which shows off its real-time language translation tech. Microsoft Translator is a cloud service that can translate dozens of languages and is part of the company’s long-term work with related translation tools.

In “Holiday Magic: Lucy the Reindeer,” a 6-year-old girl watches her mother on a conference call using a Surface laptop running Translator to help her communicate with Japanese colleagues on the other end. Inspiration strikes for the little girl when two reindeer show up in her snowy front yard.

Lucy grabs the Surface and heads outside to have a “conversation.”

“Can you understand me?” she asks the animals. When their grunting noises are translated, Lucy lets go with a rapid series of questions about everything from how heavy the sleigh is to whether Mrs. Claus is a good cook.

Translator may not really be able to speak reindeer, but the ad — scheduled to debut on TV during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade — again captures Microsoft’s desire to showcase how its technology empowers people.

A Microsoft ad during the Super Bowl featured a 9-year-old boy with a rare disease whose love for video games and playing with his friends was aided by the use of the company’s Xbox Adaptive Controller. The boy first showed up in a 2018 holiday ad that showed his friends running through the neighborhood to come watch him capture a high score on a game.

“I think the theme was really building off last year: What does technology do to make the world better for people, or bring them together?” Kathleen Hall, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of brand, advertising and research, told CNBC.

CNBC also pointed out that Microsoft’s efforts around speech assistants and translation technologies for consumers and business are part of its head-to-head battle in the cloud with the other big leaders in the space — Amazon and Google.

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