Former New York MayorMike Bloomberg's highly anticipated, very expensive Super Bowl ad had its opening kickoff Thursday morning, a 60-second spot that confronts the issue of gun violence head on, and what marks a very serious contrast to the current administration - and, likely, to a lot of the other ads voters will see come Sunday: nothing frivolous here.
The spot is called "George," a young boy in Texas who loved football; he was shot and killed in 2013 at the age of 20. Opening shots pan over George as a little kid in his football gear; as his mother, Calandrian Simpson Kemp, talks about her son's love for football, his untimely death, and Bloomberg's long record taking on the gun lobby.
"I just kept saying, you cannot tell me that the child that I gave birth to is no longer here," Kemp says, holding back tears. "Lives are being lost every day. It is a national crisis," Kemp continues.
"I heard Mike Bloomberg speak - he's been in this fight for so long. He heard mothers crying, so he started fighting. When I heard Mike was stepping into the ring, I thought, 'Now we have a dog in the fight!' I know Mike is not afraid of the gun lobby, they're scared of him. And they should be."
Prior to the ad's release, a senior aide told ABC News that the point of the ad would be to "take the fight to Trump," and moreover, they say, to get under his skin. But this ad's serious stance, on one of the issues on which Bloomberg is strongest, is no smear campaign; rather, it lays bare the raw pain and cost of gun violence felt in America. If it takes a fight to Trump here - it's from a subtle, oblique angle.
Kemp is an active volunteer of Moms Demand Action, which is part of Everytown for Gun Safety, the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country - which Bloomberg founded. His ad here is meant to underscore the urgent need of gun reform in America.
"I chose to devote the entire 60 second ad to gun safety because it matters to communities across the country and it will be a top priority for me as president,” Bloomberg said in a statement to ABC News. “Calandrian’s story is a powerful reminder of the urgency of this issue and the failure of Washington to address it. People will be rooting for different teams in the Super Bowl, but virtually all Americans - including people in both parties and a majority of gun owners - support universal background checks and other common sense gun laws.”
The timing on this comes just days before another big kickoff : the Iowa caucuses. On Sunday, Bloomberg's ad will be jostling sharp elbows with another spot: President Trump's Super Bowl ad.
Both New York giants will be airing dueling ads during Sunday's NFL championship game - both campaigns shelling out an estimated $10 million on their one minute's airtime.
Sunday's big game comes just as Americans gear up to watch another crucial moment: the Iowa Caucuses, on February 3. Bloomberg, for his part, is not playing in the Hawkeye state, at all: his campaign is skipping the first four early states altogether, heading straight for the delegate-rich Super Tuesday spots. But come Sunday, Bloomberg will have the eyes and ears of Americans from coast to coast - at least for a minute - in Iowa, and anywhere else the game is on.
Bloomberg has already been pouring unparalleled sums of his vast fortune into his campaign's outreach - already spending more than $270 million on advertising. Those ads have wallpapered key battleground states, including the ones he is skipping; they cover his core campaign themes and issues, as well as ads singularly committed to denouncing Trump.
Bloomberg teased his Super Bowl ad Tuesday night on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, in what turned out to be a direct hint at what the ad was about.
"If I told you, I'd have to shoot you," he joked - but went on, "This is an ad that is very serious ad, it's not about selling corn chips and beer. It is a serious ad about an issue that I think the country does care about and shouldn't care about. And so whether I get elected or not, I want people to understand what we have to do to make this country better."
Following his Super Bowl ad, Bloomberg's campaign plans to share additional videos featuring gun violence survivors. For their part, the Trump campaign plans to run its ad along with boosting a string of other advertising efforts and voter outreach, a senior campaign official confirmed to ABC News. Days before the game, the campaign says it will preview the ad with a text message to supporters as a list building effort.
ABC News' Will Steakin and Cheyenne Haslett contributed to this report.