NEW YORK – Americans weary of a seemingly endless barrage of political news may be looking for a respite as they settle in to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday.
They won’t get it, although the real-world interruption should at least be brief.
For what may be the first time, national politics will invade the one of the biggest TV events of the year. Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg and President Donald Trump have shelled out millions of dollars to broadcast campaign ads during the game, when nearly 100 million viewers are expected to tune into Fox.
The political intrusion may have been inevitable. Not only is the U.S. in the middle of a presidential impeachment trial, Super Bowl Sunday falls right before the Iowa caucuses on Monday and the State of the Union address by Trump on Tuesday.
In good news for the weary, however, those ads will likely be the exception of the night. Most brands are taking extra care to steer clear of politics, instead aligning themselves with celebrities, hit songs, and nostalgia to guarantee the widest appeal possible while avoiding potentially divisive territory.
“People are just fatigued with the polarization of society,” said Peter Daboll, CEO of Ace Metrix, which measures advertising effectiveness. “Advertisers are trying to take a little more centrist approach.”
Bloomberg released his ad on Thursday. It focuses on gun violence and portrays Bloomberg as someone willing to take on the gun lobby.
The Trump campaign released one of two 30-second ads that touts wage growth and lower unemployment rates. “The best is yet to come,” Trump says in the ad.
The very presence of national campaign ads during the Super Bowl is unprecedented, said Charles Taylor, a marketing professor at Villanova University.
January is usually too early for national politics, given that the presidential election isn’t until November.
But this year, “taking out a Super Bowl ad in this context can be viewed as a show of strength or signal of confidence,” he said.
Most marketers, however, are taking great pains to not allude to the current political climate. Amazon is one exception, although its spot only makes oblique references to national affairs.