The Super Bowl professional football championship is the single biggest sporting event in America. The television audience is enormous – some 100 million people watched the game this year – allowing the network to charge corporations $10 million a minute to air their advertisements. These ads famously try to convince the captive audience, through wit or sentimentality, to buy the beer or the car, the food or the skin cream, for sale.
This year, one of those ads broke the mould. The Washington Post paid for a sober one-minute advertisement that wasn’t selling anything. Instead, it extolled the virtue of a free press – in general, not just in relation to the iconic newspaper of the American capital.