By Jacob Gurvis
January 24, 2024
(JTA) — As reports of antisemitism have surged since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war, Jewish groups have sought to spotlight the issue through rallies, news coverage, billboards and social media campaigns.
Next month, it will receive airtime during the year’s most-watched television broadcast: Super Bowl LVIII.
On Wednesday, Robert Kraft’s Foundation to Combat Antisemitism announced that it purchased a 30-second spot due to air during the big game on Feb. 11. It appears to be the first time ever that a Super Bowl ad will focus on antisemitism.
“With the horrific rise in Jewish hate and all hate across our nation, we must stand up and take urgent action now,” Kraft, the billionaire owner of the New England Patriots, said in a statement. “For the first time, FCAS will air an emotive ad during the Super Bowl, football’s ultimate championship game which brings people of all backgrounds together, to showcase examples of how people can #StandUptoJewishHate and inspire more people to join the fight against all hate.”
Wednesday’s announcement noted the recent spike in antisemitism reported by groups ranging from the Anti-Defamation League to the NYPD. The spot is part of the foundation’s “#StandUpToJewishHate” media campaign, which launched last year.
Kraft, who has donated heavily to Jewish and Israeli causes, founded the group after he won the 2019 Genesis Prize, the $1 million award sometimes referred to as the “Jewish Nobel.” The foundation has become known for promoting the now-ubiquitous blue square emoji, which is meant to symbolize the small size of the American Jewish population. The blue square, which Kraft wears as a pin during public appearances, has been spread across social media and has appeared in TV ads.
Wednesday’s announcement comes after the foundation received a large infusion of funds. Kraft gave $100 million to the foundation in December — matching another $100 million pledged by the Norman R. Rales and Ruth Rales Foundation.
According to the industry publication Ad Age, a 30-second commercial during this year’s game costs about $7 million. Last year, the Super Bowl was viewed by an estimated 115 million viewers, and Super Bowl commercials often become cultural touchstones and fodder for conversation in the weeks following the game.
In 2022, prior to the launch of the blue square initiative last year, Kraft’s foundation ran an ad during a regular season game between the Patriots and the New York Jets urging viewers to stand up to antisemitism. And last year’s Super Bowl featured another high-profile ad campaign focused on religion: “He Gets Us,” a series of spots about Jesus by the Servant Foundation, a Christian group.