The Washington Post aired a powerful, emotional ad during Super Bowl LIII on Sunday—to celebrate and defend journalism in a turbulent time—complete with its “Democracy Dies In Darkness” tagline.
The 60-second spot—the publication’s first-ever Super Bowl ad—is narrated by Tom Hanks, who played the paper’s legendary executive editor Ben Bradlee in the recent movie The Post.
When we go off to war.Narrated by Tom Hanks
When we exercise our rights.
When we soar to our greatest heights.
When we mourn and pray.
When our neighbors are at risk.
When our nation is threatened.
There’s someone to gather the facts.
To bring you the story.
No matter the cost.
Because knowing empowers us.
Knowing helps us decide.
Knowing keeps us free.
The ad, which highlights the critical work of journalists, features stirring photographs of memorable news events, including the moon landing, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the Selma March.
Also shown are clips of journalists who were kidnapped or killed in the line of duty, including Austin Tice, Mari Colvin and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, whose murder was reportedly ordered by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
“The Super Bowl is a remarkable moment to recognize the courage and commitment of journalists around the world that is so essential to our democracy,” said Fred Ryan, publisher and CEO of The Washington Post.
While most Super Bowl ad producers have the better part of a year, we had the lesser part of a week, but with an event this big, we decided to seize the opportunity to make this a milestone moment in our ongoing campaign to highlight reporters’ work and the importance of press freedom.Fred Ryan, publisher and CEO of The Washington Post
The advert was well-received, especially within the news community, with one commentator calling it “quite possibly the most poignant and powerful Super Bowl ad of all time.”
The Post’s ad is reminiscent of a similar spot—titled “The Truth is Hard”—aired by the New York Times during the 2017 Academy Awards, where it used simple typography to draw attention to the power of journalism at a time of great turmoil, in the face of relentless, unwarranted criticism of the free press.
Images courtesy: The Washington Post ad