Next weekend millions of viewers will tune into Super Bowl XLIV featuring the New Orleans Saints versus the Indianapolis Colts. The Super Bowl is a huge event featuring our football champions and over the years it has become the place where the most unique, expensive, and much anticipated commercials are launched. TV Super Bowl ads have become such a phenomenon that sales for 30-second commercial slots sell for $2.5 million to $3 million, and each year it reaches an estimate of over 100 million viewers. These Super Bowl commercials have taken on a life their own by becoming themselves a competition, with ratings, winners and losers including the best of 2009 and my favorite, the “Budweiser: Horse in Training Ad.”
However, with popularity comes controversy, and TV Super Bowl ads are no different. Last year, PETA was under fire for their “sexual” commercial promoting vegetarianism, NBC deemed it too explicit for the Super Bowl and it was banned. The reason: the “PETA spot submitted to Advertising Standards depicts a level of sexuality exceeding our standards,” stated Victoria Morgan, NBC advertising spokesperson. Over the years other TV Super Bowl ads that were considered too “racy for the masses” have been banned. This year, women’s groups are riled up over an ad scheduled to air before and during the CBS broadcast of the 44th Super Bowl game, celebrating the story about the 2007 Heisman Trophy-winning American football quarterback for the Florida Gators, Tim Tebow.
So, why are “women’s groups” creating such a fuss over the Tebow ad? Tebow is a talented, successful football player: he’s young and hot “to boot.” But wait, Tebow is a Christian whose mother suffered a life-threatening infection while she was pregnant. Doctors expected a “stillbirth and recommended an abortion to protect her life.” But Pam Tebow, despite the odds, chose life for her son. Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian ministry, of which the 30-second spot will feature college football star Tim Tebow and his mother, Pam, purchased the ad. They will share a personal story centered on the theme of “Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life.”
In spite of the fact that no one has seen the “Tebow Family Ad,” women are crying foul before the game even begins, calling it an anti-abortion promotion. According to Reuters, the Women’s Media Center and over 30 other liberal and women’s advocacy groups sent a letter to CBS urging them to “cancel the ad” and “refuse” Focus on the Family’s or any other advertisement promoting their agenda. Jehmu Greene, the president of the Women’s Media Center, told Reuters, “We are calling on CBS to stick to their policy of not airing controversial advocacy ads… and this is clearly a controversial ad.”
This past week, in an interview with Bill O’Reilly on Fox News, Greene was questioned about her “beef” with the Tebow Family Ad and she responded by claiming the ad was an “attempt to undermine a woman’s right to make decisions about her reproductive decisions” and that the ad would somehow “take away a women’s right to choose.”
Apparently CBS has reversed their stance on airing “advocacy” commercials during the Super Bowl, providing they are “responsibly produced,” and an NFL spokesman weighed in: “CBS standards and practices department approved the content of the ad as appropriate for the audience. We take no issue with CBS’ decision.” Focus on the Family’s Gary Schneeberger has come out stating, “There’s nothing political and controversial about it. [...] When the day arrives, and you sit down to watch the game on TV, those who oppose it will be quite surprised at what the ad is all about.”
Still sports enthusiasts and columnists like CBSSports.com’s Gregg Doyel, are uncomfortable with the Tebow Family Ad because it interferes with what Doyel calls “the holiest day of the year.” What is quite interesting is that our society is okay with sexually charged commercials like the Carl’s Jr. Paris Hilton ad. And when commercials include the constant pimping of pharmaceutical drugs like Viagra, we don’t protest. We don’t even cringe at the fact that fast food commercials continually sell us poor health and obesity, of which most Americans turn a blind eye to what PETA does prove: widespread animal cruelty in our food industry (a heartbreaking and angering reality). Although TV Super Bowl ads adhere to a higher standard, they do promote a lot of beer, so it is refreshing that CBS will air a wholesome, positive advertisement and women’s groups can then take their “pom poms” somewhere else.
Early on when Tim Tebow met with reporters last Sunday in Mobile, Alabama before beginning preparations for the Senior Bowl, he made an effort to tackle the controversy by standing up for what he believes. Then with admiration and gratitude he pointed out, “My mom is a very courageous woman…”
By many people’s standards, Pam Tebow is a role model and the Tebow Family Ad just might go all the way to the end zone, scoring a touchdown on February 7, 2009, uplifting hearts and minds, marking it a victory for free speech and dare I say, us pro-lifers –– possibly catapulting it to my new favorite TV Super Bowl ad!