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SBD/Issue 93/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing
Super Bowl Ads: CBS Defends Decision To Run Focus On The Family
Published January 27, 2010
A POLARIZING ISSUE: National Organization for Women Action VP Erin Matson yesterday said that "abortion is an incredibly complex issue that cannot be condensed into a 30-second commercial, and running the ad is not a smart thing to do for either viewpoint." However, Matson noted that her organization, which has joined Women's Media Center's campaign, has "no plants to buy a Super Bowl spot or specifically rebut" the Tebow ad. Focus on the Family VP/Media Relations Gary Schneeberger said that he is "surprised at the outrage over the content of the commercial considering the fact that the ad has not been seen." Schneeberger: "To comment on an ad that you haven't seen seems difficult to do" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 1/27). Schneeberger would not disclose details about the ad, which he called "refreshing and very inspiring." When asked if Focus on the Family would protest a pro-choice Super Bowl ad, he said, "It's hard to speculate. It would depend upon the details" (EW.com, 1/26).
OPENING PANDORA'S BOX? USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes the Focus on the Family ad "might pave the way for controversial spots to regularly pop up on marquee TV -- giving broadcasters new sideshows to generate buzz." CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus declined to comment on the network's ad policy, but said, "As far as generating interest and curiosity, (Super Bowl ads) are part of the game" (USA TODAY, 1/27). Ad Age columnist Bob Garfield said, "I'm stunned that any of the networks would risk one of the few, last great franchises of broadcast television for an ad that could polarize viewers." He added, "This is a multi-hundred-million-dollar franchise that networks have historically protected by avoiding controversy, especially in the ads. I'm surprised that anybody's going to take a risk by accepting an ad with an explicit religious message" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/27). In St. Petersburg, Eric Deggans wrote it "seems odd" that CBS would accept an ad that "might be construed as anti-choice from an organization known for controversial views opposing abortion rights and homosexuality." Is a Super Bowl commercial an "appropriate place to spark a discussion about abortion?" (TAMPABAY.com, 1/26).
Tebow Receiving Mixed Response For Taking
Part In Focus On The Family's Ad
SOMETHING TO BELIEVE IN: L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said, "Whether you agree or disagree with the message, in my mind I admire Tim Tebow for doing this. We always rip athletes for not taking social stands. We always rip athletes for hiding behind their sports" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 1/26). ESPN's Chris Mortensen: "If anyone thinks Tebow is going to compromise his beliefs for marketers, they're badly mistaken" (TWITTER.com, 1/25). ESPN's Michael Wilbon: "I defend his right to be involved in a commercial to say whatever he wants to say. But it's a wildly passionate issue in an area he's venturing into, and this could open up Pandora's Box. ... I don't think anybody of (his) age can accurately assess the passion that's going to come back at them" ("PTI," ESPN, 1/26).
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING? YAHOO SPORTS' Matt Hinton wrote, "I've been writing about Tebow for more than four years, and the odds of him associating with anything remotely controversial or politically incorrect enough to justify the reactions to the Super Bowl ad are about as good as him becoming the next clown killer." The ad is "guaranteed to be generic and inoffensive -- in other words, for those of us more interested in the spectacle and sideshow than the politics, a letdown" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/26).