I didn’t bat an eye when the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos won their conference championship games last week or when Politico announced that its founder and much of its brass were leaving the publication later this year. It makes no difference to me. I’m not a fan of the NFL, and I certainly don’t like Politico’s incestuous election coverage. But even so, I’ll be tuning into the Super Bowl this Sunday and picking up a copy of Politico the following Tuesday. Not because I’m interested in the contents of Ron Rivera’s or Mike Allen’s playbook. I’m definitely not. But I do care about the corporations paying top dollar to reach the NFL and Politico’s audiences. I only watch the Super Bowl and read Politico for the advertisements.
I don’t care for tackle football or access journalism; in fact, I find them both detrimental. I’m not interested in watching a deteriorated Peyton Manning underthrow a football to a receiver with a traumatic brain injury and I have no desire to read Jim VandeHei or one of the sycophants on his staff breathlessly explain why the leader in the polls is likely to win. But I do love seeing how America’s premier brands represent themselves on the biggest stages. The Super Bowl is more than just a game. It’s a showcase for the most anticipated television commercials of the year. And Politico is more than just a newspaper. It’s a showcase for full page advertisements from the nation’s biggest corporations and most influential special interests.
Every year, I look forward to seeing what Pepsi, Volkswagen, and Doritos come up with for their annual Super Bowl spots. And every week, I look forward to seeing the messaging that Goldman Sachs, Exxon, and the American Petroleum Institute come up with for their Politico ads. Remember a few years ago when Volkswagen debuted their Darth Vader kid commercial? That was hilarious! Or how about this week when Koch Industries ran an ad in Politico touting their efforts to “reduce the environmental footprint of paper products?” Even more hilarious! Is there even any question that the ads are the best part of the Super Bowl and Politico?
Broncos and Panthers, Clintons and Sanders, who can keep them straight? Not me. I just zone out and wait for the ads when football is on or when Jake Sherman is writing about Congressional Republicans. So come next week, I won’t be able to tell you who won the big game or the New Hampshire primary. But you can bet I’ll be talking about GoDaddy’s sexy new commercial and Northrop Grumman’s back page ad about building affordable stealth bombers. That’s because I only watch the Super Bowl and read Politico for the advertisements.