Microsoft's "#MakeWhatsNext: Change the Odds" A Rhetorical Analysis by Kylie Prymak
Another production technique Microsoft uses is filming the girls at particular distances to emphasize their message. When the girls first walk into the frame, the camera cycles through several frames of the girls walking, ending with one girl sitting in the center chair, which is depicted in the first image, below. The camera moves close to the girls as they explain what they want to change about the world to draw the viewer into each of the girl's dreams (see the second picture). The third image exhibits the scenes of the girls using Microsoft's technology to learn about their dreams. The camera zooms out as the girls use the devices to allow the viewer to experience Microsoft's technology as the girls are. Finally, as the girls are confronted with the statistic and decide to defy it, the camera comes close to the faces of the girls to show their emotion and to pull the viewer into it. This is depicted in the fourth image.
The changing of the lighting in the frame conveys the attitude of each situation depicted. As the girls walk on stage and discuss their aspirations, the lighting is very luminous, brightening the white of the walls and stage, as illustrated in the first image, below. There is a slight, but noticeable, spotlight behind the chair where the girls sit, which immediately draws the attention of the audience to the girls. The lights dim while the girls use Microsoft's technology. The dimming causes the projections of what the girls are seeing to stand out, immersing the viewer in the experiences of the girls. After this, the lighting darkens significantly just as the third picture, below, appears in the commercial. The darkening of the room communicates to the audience that Microsoft and the girls believe that this situation is dismal and discouraging. The fourth image depicts the relighting of the room as the girls announce that they will not be discouraged, ending in the same bright light that the video started with. The last image in the video is a white screen with a Microsoft logo in the center. This depiction, with a bright and white background, implies that the company is at the center of the brightness and positivity that the girls exuded in the lighted moments of the video.
Microsoft organizes the room to subtly tell the viewer what kind of message they are trying to impart. First, the angular white walls displayed in the image, above, mimic the clean and practical walls of a laboratory or a hospital, locations where STEM work takes place. The brightness of the room also conveys the innocence of the girls and their impressionability. The square pillar, exhibited in the bottom left image, is very exact and clean-cut, reminding the viewer of the practicality involved in STEM. The image in the top left of the grid, below, shows a circular bench. This bench, located next to the square pillar, invites the viewer to come and listen to the girls. It also ensures that the room is not too empty or completely devoid of furniture. Another piece of the room that points to the STEM fields is the chair next to the pillar (see the picture on the right). The chair has geometric designs that tie the girls to STEM when they sit in it. The chair is also the only non-white piece in the room. Its dark blue hue immediately draws the eye to the center of the room where the girls are.
Microsoft employs their technological devices in a rhetorical move to bring the dreams of the girls alive. Allowing the girls to experience what kind of work they could eventually do, accomplishes Microsoft's secondary purpose of the video, which is to sell their products to the viewer. By using their technology in this way, Microsoft uses visual rhetoric to announce to the reader that their company helps people achieve their dreams. This prompts the viewer to associate positivity and success with Microsoft's products. The company uses two of their devices: a computer with its mouse and virtual reality goggles. The computer has a circular mouse that allows the image on the screen to be manipulated more easily (see the first image, below). The goggles allow the girls to "enter" into the reality of their dreams (see the second and third images). Images associated with the girl's aspirations appear in front of them, making their dreams concrete. Microsoft then shows the viewer what this reality looks like on the screen, so they can participate as well. Microsoft's use of their technology conveys to the viewer that their technology helps people achieve their dreams.
Microsoft utilizes the appearances of the girls to impart their message upon the viewer. First, Microsoft chooses girls from different ethnicities to demonstrate that they value diversity in their company and that their message is for everyone. This selection allows viewers from all ethnicities to connect with the girls. Microsoft also tries to appeal to all types of girls. One girl wears baseball t-shirt (see bottom right image in the grid below), another wears a shirt with hearts on it (see bottom left depiction), and one other wears overalls (see top right picture). These clothing choices are chosen to relate to all kinds of young girls, including the "tomboy" and the "girly girl." Overall, however, the girls are made to look feminine. All of the girls were bright, light colors typically associated with females, including purple, pink, yellow, and white. None of them wear red or blue, which are colors that are usually associated with males. The girls also wear necklaces, bracelets, and earrings to emphasize their femininity. This is a video about women in STEM, so Microsoft wants to make clear that these girls are young women on the precipice of entering into STEM. Microsoft also works to ensure that the girls do not appear too feminine. None of the girls are in dresses or skirts, which would usually be associated solely with females. They all wear nice pants and blouse that are the childhood equivalent of business casual. Microsoft wants the girls to appear professional and capable. Furthermore, the ages of the girls are all about the same. Microsoft shows their younger age by putting their hair in pigtails (see all three images on the left of the grid), by having them wear lace (see the left center image), and by having them wear overalls (see the top right image). Their age is significant because these girls are at the age where they can have concrete ideas about what they want to do in the world, but they are still at an impressionable age in which they can be inspired and molded. Microsoft chooses this particular age because the girls will be taken seriously when they discuss their dreams, but Microsoft can still inspire them in a way that is believable to the viewer.