For many, it may seem like the 30-second ads for this year’s Super Bowl are getting more attention than next weekend’s matchup between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints.
Since the announcement of Focus on the Family’s first Super Bowl ad earlier this month, people far and wide have been adding their two cents on what they feel is and is not appropriate to air during one of the nation’s most watched television programs.
Pro-choice camps are saying the pending “anti-choice” ad featuring college football star Tim Tebow and his mother will alienate viewers and “ramp up the vitriolic rhetoric surrounding reproductive rights.”
“The content of this ad endangers women's health, uses sports to divide rather than to unite, and promotes an organization that opposes the equality of Americans based on gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, and reproductive freedom,” expressed petitioners mobilized by the Women’s Media Center, though the exact content of the ad has not yet been revealed.
Like many, pro-choice activists are speculating that the ad will recount Pam Tebow’s refusal to have an abortion while she was pregnant with Tim despite having suffered from a life-threatening infection at the time.
Tebow, himself, has confirmed rumors, telling a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution the ad is “a great opportunity to share a very happy and special story about my mom fighting for me.”
But the University of Florida quarterback doesn’t see why his mother’s story is being so strongly opposed.
"I don't think it's anything that's negative or anything like that," Tebow said Wednesday after a practice for the Senior Bowl.
Meanwhile, some of the executives at domain hosting site GoDaddy.com are also scratching their heads after one of the five commercial concepts they sent to CBS for approval this year was rejected.
Though Go Daddy is known for its racy and often demoralizing ads, the one that was not approved this year was by far milder than many of its past ads and even the ads that were approved this year.
The “banned” ad features a “big, flamboyant, effeminate, lovable man” who launches a career as a fashion designer with an online store after previously having played football professionally.
“Of the five commercial concepts we submitted for approval this year, this NEVER would’ve been my pick for the one that would not be approved,” exclaimed Go Daddy CEO and Founder Bob Parsons this past Thursday.
“I just don’t think ‘Lola’ is offensive, in fact we didn’t see this one coming – we were absolutely blindsided,” he added, referring to the name of the ad’s fictional character.
Notably, CBS had last week announced its intention to consider airing “responsibly produced” ads from all groups after years of rejecting those that touch upon a “current controversial issue of public importance."
Despite its policy change, CBS appears to remain sensitive on ads with homosexual undertones – whether subtle like Go Daddy’s “banned” ad or downright flagrant like the one submitted by gay dating site ManCrunch.com, which was reportedly rejected Friday.
The ad, which CBS said was “not within the Network's broadcast standards for Super Bowl Sunday," features two men whose hands touch as they reach into a bowl of chips while watching the Super Bowl. After a brief pause, the two men begin making out as another man sitting nearby watches awkwardly.
Elissa Buchter, spokeswoman for the Toronto-based dating site, called CBS’s decision “straight-up discrimination."
Tim Wildmon, president of the conservative American Family Association, however, said it would have been “totally irresponsible” of the network to air the ad during what may be the most watched TV program of the year.
“CBS should not put parents in the position of answering embarrassing and awkward questions from their children while they’re just trying to enjoy a football game,” stated Wildmon while CBS was still considering the ad.
While some of CBS’s latest moves might suggest a lean in favor of conservatives, notably the network does plan to air what Go Daddy claims could be its “hottest ever” ad.
CBS is also still in court fighting the $500,000 indecency fine that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued after the widely-publicized “wardrobe malfunction” during a sexually-oriented 2004 Super Bowl Halftime Show performance.
"It is no secret that GoDaddy.com loves to 'push the envelope' when it comes to the content of its ads; and it would appear that this year's GoDaddy Super Bowl ad may push as close to the indecency line as CBS Network 'censors' will allow, which could be as close as CBS thinks it can get away with,” commented Morality in Media president Robert Peters.
"Smutty ads and halftime performances are, of course, nothing new during the Super Bowl, despite the fact that in countless homes the game is a family event with children of all ages watching,” he added.
Last year, approximately 98.7 million people in the United States watched the Super Bowl, which was aired by NBC. Exclusive television broadcast rights for the Super Bowl rotate each year among three of the four major American television networks - CBS, Fox, and NBC.
This year’s Super Bowl, which will be held in the Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., will kick off at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, Feb. 7.
The cost of a 30-second commercial during the game is estimated at $2.8 million.