NFL Fumbles Microsoft's $400 Million Surface Ad Deal (Again), Still Gets Called An iPad

In one of the most highly anticipated games of the season, quarterback Tom Brady and the New England Patriots defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers last Thursday to kick off the National Football League (NFL) season. The first game of the season is always popular, though this particular match-up drew interest from fans wondering how Brady would fare after being dogged in the media for the past seven months over something known as Deflategate. With all that attention, Microsoft can't be pleased that on-air commentators are still referring to its sponsored Surface tablet as an iPad.

Back in 2013, Microsoft inked a $400 million deal with the NFL to promote the Surface. Microsoft agreed to supply teams with Surface tablets that they could use on the sidelines to go over plays, and in turn the NFL would be sure to provide the occasional close-up. Surface branding on the sidelines would also be present, all in an attempt to bring mainstream exposure to the Surface family.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Unfortunately for Microsoft, commentators and even players couldn't help themselves from referring to the tablets as iPads. It happened on more than one occasion, and while you can bet that Microsoft and the NFL have been in talks with announcers and players about the goof, little progress is being made.

Last year, announcers referred to the Surface as an "iPad-like tablet,", while Chicago Bears quarterback called them "knockoff iPads" (he wasn't being critical of the Surface, he just didn't know who made them or what they were called).


Fast forward to the start of this season and it's happening again. After a commercial break, the camera zoomed in on Patriots coach Bill Belichick looking down at his Surface Pro 3 tablet. That's when announcer Al Michaels made the mistake of calling it an iPad, as you can see and hear above.

"It’s true, we have coached up a select few," a Microsoft spokesperson told Business Insider last year. "That coaching will continue to ensure our partners are well equipped to discuss Surface when the camera pans to players using the device during games."

It looks like more coaching is needed. In the meantime, this is the best $400 million Apple never spent.

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