Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos didn’t show up in his company’s latest Super Bowl ad for Alexa. But his message was heard through a powerful ad for one of his other companies, as The Washington Post ran a spot in the big game for the first time in its history.
The 60-second ad, which cost more than $5 million, played off the newspaper’s “Democracy Dies in Darkness” slogan and was narrated by actor Tom Hanks. It aired near the end of Sunday night’s game between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams and served as a reminder to what a free press contributes to society.
The ad was in somber contrast to three hours of more of the same from the biggest brands in America — beefy trucks, cold beer, soft drinks, wireless promotions, and lots of sad robots.
“Knowing empowers us. Knowing helps us decide. Knowing keeps us free,” says Hanks, who also happened to star as famed Post executive editor Ben Bradlee in the 2017 film “The Post.”
Bezos, who bought the Post in 2013, is often at the receiving end of criticism on Twitter from President Donald Trump when it comes to the newspaper and Trump’s “fake news” rallying cry to his base of supporters. Bezos was on Twitter Sunday night just after the ad aired, and at least one fellow tech leader offered his support to the Post and journalists everywhere, as Apple’s Tim Cook tweeted the ad, too.
Grateful for the journalists at the @washingtonpost and around the world who do the work, no matter the risk or dangers they face.#democracydiesindarkness #SuperBowlAd https://t.co/faO74lvSs5 pic.twitter.com/37PLrNLJe0
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) February 4, 2019
Here’s a roundup of some of the other ads that aired during Super Bowl LIII:
- T-Mobile didn’t have Drake or Snoop Dogg or Martha Stewart this year, but the Bellevue, Wash.-based wireless carrier did offer up free tacos and Lyft rides. The company aired four ads during the game that were nothing more than text, and texting, on the screen set along to some music. T-Mobile encouraged people to download the T-Mobile Tuesdays app to gain access to the free Taco Bell food and the $10 worth of Lyft rides.
- During a football game that lacked any real emotion or drama, Google managed to at least score on those fronts with an ad for Google Translate. With scenes of travelers in locations all over the world using the company’s technology to communicate, the ad touts the most translated words in the world: “How are you?”; “Thank you”; and “I love you.” Google also aired another spot about veterans.
- Bellevue-based iSpot.tv was among a number of companies crunching the numbers on ad engagement throughout the week and late into Sunday night. The company said there we 93 Super Bowl LIII ads from 54 unique brands. The ads generated 48 million online views as of 11 p.m. Sunday. Top in-game advertising according to iSpot included the Verizon ad above; Marvel film trailers for “Avengers: Endgame” and “Captain Marvel”; the Alexa ad we saw earlier in the week; and Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive Controller ad, which we also covered earlier in the week.
- The NFL’s 100-year Game ad above — featuring ex-Seattle Seahawks stars Marshawn Lynch and Richard Sherman among others — took the top ranking according to USA Today’s Ad Meter, which tracks public opinion around Super Bowl ads. Amazon’s Alexa ad and Microsoft’s Xbox ad were right behind in the second and third spots respectively. Last year’s Alexa ad, when the voice assistant lost its voice, was ranked No. 1 by Ad Meter.