How could the first Super Bowl of the Trump era escape politics?
If you were just watching the game on TV, the politics were mostly subtle. Sure, there were the political ads. There were ads for everyone from NASCAR to Airbnb, which has taken on President Trump’s travel ban.
But Madison Avenue seemed to care more about who won the popular vote than who won the election. The overtly political ads celebrated diversity, globalism and immigration — there was even one about The Wall that wasn’t allowed to show The Wall.
There was social commentary packed into a contrasting pair of back-to-back ads — one from Audi where a father thinks to himself about all the social limitations he won’t let into his daughter’s mind, followed by a lighter ad for Mr. Clean where the husband does the cleaning.
A pregame Coca-Cola ad brought back from 2014 featured “America The Beautiful” sung in many different languages, which drew plenty of divided reaction.
Then there was that hair ad proclaiming, “America, we’re in for at least four years of awful hair.”
For the ad-makers, it’s not just a matter of how many people voted for which party last year, though. Democratic pollster Geoff Garin offered a reminder that areas that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 produce nearly two-thirds of the country’s economic output — a pattern that goes a long way to explain Trump’s victory.
Back inside NRG Stadium in Houston it was a light touch. Things started with the heart-warming reemergence of former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara, who were both recently hospitalized, to conduct the coin toss.
In a brief moment, cast members from the Broadway smash hit Hamilton took a jab at patriarchy, asking the Almighty to “crown thy good with brotherhood… and sisterhood… from sea to shining sea.” (Vice President Mike Pence was again in the audience for the cast’s performance, but there was no booing this time.)
The game began as kind of a shocker. The dynastic Patriots were faltering. The Atlanta Falcons were surging all through the first half, and Nate Cohn of The Upshot sent up a prophetic…