The 60-second spot, which was narrated by famed American actor Tom Hanks, aired during the fourth quarter of the National Football League (NFL) game between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams.
The advertisement shows various major news events, including scenes from World War II, the Civil Rights Movement and the first moon landing, among others. It also pays special tribute to slain and disappeared journalists with ties to the Post, such as Austin Tice, Marie Colvin and Jamal Khashoggi.
"When we go off to war. When we exercise our rights. When we soar to our greatest heights," Hanks says. "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 concludes with the Post's logo and slogan, which reads, "Democracy Dies in Darkness."
Fred Ryan, publisher and CEO of the Washington Post, explained in a statement that the publication decided to issue its first advertisement during the big NFL game as a means to tap into the Super Bowl's reach and "recognize the courage and commitment of journalists around the world that is so essential to our democracy."
"We decided to seize the opportunity to make this a milestone moment in our ongoing campaign… This was a chance for a broader message about the role journalists play in our everyday lives and the risks they take to bring us the facts," he added.
While the ad may have had good intentions, the reported $5.25 million price tag that came with the one-minute commercial got the attention of several journalists, including Post reporter Dan Zak, who's been with the outlet for some 14 years.
Lashing out over the costly Super Bowl ad, Zak tweeted, "Now unfreeze our pensions, pay an equal wage and strengthen maternity benefits."
In accordance with Zak, many others suggested that the funds could have also been used to grow the newsroom, or even pave the way for raises.
— Katelyn Burns (@transscribe) February 4, 2019
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) February 4, 2019
— David Rutz (@DavidRutz) February 3, 2019
— Jeremy McLellan (@JeremyMcLellan) February 2, 2019
Even Donald Trump Jr. tweeted his opinion on the price, offering suggestions on how the Post could've saved its millions.
"You know how MSM journalists could avoid having to spend millions on a #superbowl comercial [sic] to gain some undeserved credibility?" he asked. "How about report the news and not their leftist BS for a change."
Although most Super Bowl ads are created months in advance of the game, the Post's commercial was created within one week of airing. Hanks was picked to narrate the spot as a nod to his portrayal of former Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee in the 2017 film, "The Post."