SBD/Issue 88/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

CBS Gives Early Approval To Focus On The Family Super Bowl Ad

CBS officials have "approved a script for a Super Bowl spot" from Christian group Focus on the Family, which suggests that the ad "will not carry a pro-life message -- at least an overt one," according to David Goetzl of MEDIADAILYNEWS. CBS has a "policy of prohibiting advocacy ads, even ones that carry an 'implicit' endorsement for a side in a public debate." There has been speculation that Focus on the Family's Super Bowl spot, starring former Univ. of Florida QB Tim Tebow and his mother, might "offer a pro-life message." However, a CBS spokesperson said that the network "will review the video version of the spot before giving it the final green light, but does not anticipate any hurdles." Focus on the Family only announced the ad would carry a "Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life" theme, utilizing a "strategy that many Super Bowl advertisers employ: Announce that an ad has been bought, but hold off on releasing details in order to generate pre-game interest." Goetzl notes CBS in recent years has "rejected Super Bowl ads on the grounds that they advocate one side in matters where 'substantial elements of the community (are) in opposition to one another'" (MEDIADAILYNEWS, 1/20 issue). AD AGE's Brian Steinberg noted the ad buy "may come as a surprise to veteran Super Bowl watchers." NBC last year turned down an ad from PETA that "showed women in lingerie placed in suggestive positions with pumpkins and asparagus." CBS also "turned down a similar ad for its 2004 Super Bowl broadcast as well as one from that bashed President Bush." Focus on the Family VP/Media Relations Gary Schneeberger said that the message in his organization's commercial "is likely to act more as an offer of help, with the hope the commercial will generate awareness for the organization and its family services" (, 1/19).

THE WRONG MESSAGE AT THE WRONG TIME?'s Gregg Doyel noted the ad may carry a "beautiful, undeniable message," but he wrote, "I don't want to see. Not during the damn Super Bowl." Doyel: "I'm not complaining about the ad because it's anti-abortion and I'm not. I'm complaining about the ad because it's pro-politics. And I'm not. Not on Super Sunday" (, 1/19). In Virginia, Bob Molinaro writes Super Bowl viewers "shouldn't be ambushed by political advocacy ads." It can be a "great thing when men and women believe in something bigger than themselves," but by teaming up with Focus on the Family, Tebow is "stepping out of the spiritual arena into the political, where idealism doesn't stand a chance" (Norfolk VIRGINIAN-PILOT, 1/20). In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde noted some people "will be upset" if the Tebow spot carries an anti-abortion theme as rumored, but "an athlete gets to use the platform however he/she wants." Tebow "wants to deliver Christian-based sermons." But Hyde noted it remains to be seen if such an ad "will affect how some teams view him" ahead of April's NFL Draft (, 1/19).

FLORAL ARRANGEMENT: Teleflora today announced it will return to the Super Bowl with a Valentine's Day-themed 30-second spot, set to air during the game's second quarter. Last year's game on NBC marked Teleflora's first time advertising during the Super Bowl, and this year's spot brings back the company's talking flowers campaign launched in '08. The ad, via in-house agency Fire Station, will continue to air through February 12 (Teleflora).

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