Focus on the Family Gets in the Game
If the Super Bowl was once the marquee platform for erectile dysfunction commercials and spots reveling in crude sexual humor, Christian-values organization Focus on the Family is looking to use the big game to remind viewers about moral obligations. The Colorado-based group, which campaigns against abortion and same-sex marriage and offers help for “brokenness in families,” has bought a 30-second spot to run alongside the beers, cars and potato chip ads on February 7. CBS is charging between $2.5 million and $2.8 million for the big game’s marquee spots.
According to a press release from the Colorado-based organization, the Focus on the Family commercial will feature college-football star Tim Tebow and his mother, Pam, in a message about how to “celebrate family, celebrate life.” The two will share a story about how Pam was told by doctors that Tim ought to be aborted and how she refused.
A CBS spokesman confirmed that the network had accepted the spot, explaining that the network had vetted the script, as it does with all ads. “Every spot, no matter its point of view, goes through the standards and practices department.”
It has yet to approve any video, but that is not expected to be a problem. “It is not inflammatory or divisive,” said an executive with knowledge of the ad. “It’s positive. It’s not pro-life flag waving.”
Even so, the ad has drawn fire from the National Organization for Women for its potential anti-abortion slant and its emphasis on the traditional definition of family. “My first response is: What a bunch of prigs! And shame on CBS for doing this,” NOW president Terry O’Neill told B&C. “This is a message of intolerance, and the Super Bowl is a family show. The message they [Focus on the Family] are sending is: ‘I’m superior because I did it this way.’” O’Neill added: “Many other demeaning and insulting ads have gone on the Super Bowl. CBS shouldn’t be airing it. It will end up on our media Hall of Shame Websites.”
The ad also is raising eyebrows among some members of the marketing community who are wondering how to discern what’s an acceptable ad. One marketing expert, who did not wish to be named for fear of upsetting clients, pointed out that CBS, along with Fox, refused to carry ads for products such as Trojan condoms in 2007.