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CBS Nixes Gay Online Dating Ad for Superbowl, Accepts Pro-Life Spot

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

sports-and-faith.jpgWhen you think of the Superbowl, you probably think of epic battles and epically bizarre TV commercials. (What’s a commercial? That thing between acts of your TV shows that you TiVo through. But anyway…) But this year, a commercial for an online dating site is raising epic drama, after being nixed because the “creative is not within the Network’s Broadcast Standards for Super Bowl Sunday.”
The ad, for ManCrunch.com – a gay dating site that sounds like a football play – featured two male football fans making out. (You can watch the ad, which to me feels like a parody of football fans more than an ad for gay dating, here.) In a media statement (reported in The Hollywood Reporter), CBS said that they’d reviewed the ad, and that “our Standards and Practices department decided not to accept this particular spot…As always, we are open to working with the client on alternative submissions.”
To run an ad during the Superbowl costs $2.5 million. There have been various speculations that the company doesn’t have that kind of money, and therefore wouldn’t be able to secure the spot anyway. Plus, CBS accused the site of using this rejection as a strategized marketing ploy – charging that they submitted the ad, without the capital to back it up and knowing full well CBS wouldn’t accept it; now they can use the resulting publicity (including, presumably, blog posts like this one) as a launchpad to attract probably as many eyeballs as they would have during the Superbowl broadcast, only without the hefty price tag.

A ManCrunch.com spokesperson denied that the ad was a marketing ploy and called CBS’ decision discriminatory. “We’re 100% serious,” said spokesperson Elissa Buchter. “We have the money to pay for it. If the ad showed a man and woman kissing it would have been accepted. You see ads for erectile dysfunction morning, noon and night. It’s discriminatory that they wont show this.” Buchter said the site spent more than $100,000 on the ad and has raised $40 million from investors.

This Standards and Practices issue is especially hairy this year, since CBS announced that they were relaxing their standards on “advocacy” ads, leading them to approve a commercial from conservative pro-life group Focus on the Family:

The 30-second ad is expected to recount the story of Pam Tebow’s pregnancy in 1987. After getting sick during a mission trip to the Philippines, she ignored a recommendation by doctors to abort her fifth child. She later gave birth to Tim, who won the 2007 Heisman Trophy and helped his Florida team win two BCS championships.
[A spokesperson] said CBS “will continue to consider responsibly produced ads from all groups for the few remaining spots in Super Bowl XLIV.”

(There’s some interesting discussion of what this ad might do to Tim Tebow’s career in this Idol Chatter post.)
Should CBS accept the ManCrunch ad? Reject the Focus on the Family ad? Both? Neither? Is it an issue of real “standards and practices” or the comfort zones of the CBS people who make those decisions? Is it the Superbowl, a time-honored celebration of conservative, traditional, heterosexual masculinity, that is the issue? What do you think, Idol Chatter readers?



  • Stephen Edgar

    Yes that’s good and commendable, BUT it still let’s and suports homosexuals, by letting them display their sexuality and even host shows on their network. The Bible tells us that this is not right and admonishes us for it , it is a sin against God!!!! They will all have to answer for their sin.

  • Your Name

    Hmmm, does “What the Bible sez” have as much/more clout than ‘What the Q’uran sez’, or ‘What the Book of Kells sez’, or ‘What the Book of Tao sez’, or ‘What Hindu Scripture sez’, etc.? Especially in a country that touts its suppsed “freedom of religion”.
    Religions are not of one accord on the matter of homosexuality. Why do your beliefs trump others’, Stephen?
    What the heck has that got to do with CBS’s selectivity in airing advocacy ads?

  • Mordred08

    A gay dating site is “not within the Network’s Broadcast Standards for Super Bowl Sunday.” But no doubt the Budweiser commercials we’d see every 5 minutes are within standards.
    So…same-sex love bad, alcoholism good? Thanks CBS, you’ve given me another good reason not to watch football.

  • John

    I guess wee will see what commercials meet their “Standards for super Bowl Sunday.” I wouldn’t be too surprised if they show semi-naked pictures of super-lean women because the football crowd caters to heterosexual males. It would be interesting to see if CBS considers homophobic ads like the old Snicker’s ad (in which two males kissing was portrayed as something revolting) falls within their “standards” for Super Bowl Sunday.
    If CBS airs commercials that jest at our expense then we’d know CBS isn’t doing this to avoid anything that might offend someone’s sensibilities. We’d know that they, in fact, care more about offending some people than offending others.

  • Devin

    This is the superbowl, and it should be about football. They shouldn’t air either commercial, AND they should refuse to air all dating companies’ commericals. If they refuse one, they should refuse all. After all, the NFL wouldn’t let Rush Limbaugh become part owner of the Rams because of his political divisiveness, but they are going to air an anti abortion ad? This makes no sense to me. The NFL should not be in the business of promoting a certain political or religious agenda. I know it is CBS who refused/approved the ads, but I believe the NFL has final say over who advertises during their broadcast.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com Sue Gold

    I totally agree with Devin. The Super Bowl should be about football and not religion, or dating or viragra ads.

  • willy

    Hurray for CBS and GOD bless America. It’s to bad so many protest the views this country was founded on. Gays are great but I don’t want to watch them kissing on some commercial for the super bowl whether it’s a man or a woman, it’s not appropriate! If Tebow is proud of his mother for making a choice to give him life when she was advised otherwise why shouldn’t he be able to tell about it, anyone would! It’s not a big secret that Tebow is a christian but if he wasn’t would people still complain if he talked about his mother’s brave choice to put herself at risk for her beliefs and the birth of this person who is now making waves just because he’s glad to be alive? I doubt it!

  • jackie c

    Football.”Funny” ads.That’s all,not forums for gays or anti choice ads.

  • Your Name

    Truthfully I’d rather see a tasteful ad for a gay dating service than an ad from organizations that insist on restricting a woman’s right to choose,even to save her life.

  • William Simpson

    This is just one more attempt by the homosexual agenda to impose thier views upon the rest of American society. Its is no longer a debate about choice, its now unconditional acceptance regardless if their lifestyle choice is welcome or not.
    I was molested and raped as a child by a homosexual pedophile. And what he did distorted my self-preception, thus my life. My argument is not from a religious view but from a moral view. And to those of you who are in favor of an add like this being aired with so many children watching, You are a mentaly sick and demented individual!!!

  • rmcrae

    I’m sorry to hear about your abuse, William. However, the man that hurt you was a pedophile. Being a pedophile and being gay are 2 very different things. Gay people are in relationships with other consenting adults. Pedophiles are drawn to and abuse kids. Also, your letting your past color your view of a whole group of people and condemn them. Gay people don’t choose to be gay just like you and I don’t choose to be straight. In a world where being gay can bring you harm and even death, don’t you think everybody would choose to be straight? The gay agenda doesn’t exist, but the gay bashing agenda is alive and well.
    Would you be up in arms if a kid saw a commercial with a straight couple goin’ at it? Ads and shows featuring that are run on network tv at hour where kids are watching. Is it ok with you because they’re straight?

  • http://www.photowoo.com Michael

    Well I have some very strong opinions on this subject. First of all Focus on the Family is not about family. It is about pushing their ideas. I do not agree with abortions as a means of birth control, but at the same time we dont know the reason why a woman might choose an abortion. Will it save her life? Is it our call to make her support a kid or kids for 18 years or more? I am not sure, and I do not have to live with the decision. If we did maybe the call would be different. I also agree with rmcrae. the pedophilia and homosexuality are two very different things. Pedophilia is a sick disease. In the last month me and my girl have been going to a gay club. I see the gays having fun, most in very good relationships, and are very happy. Why do we have the right to choose someones happiness. Why are so many straight people uncomfortable with gay men around. is the gayness going to leak off and they will catch it?

  • Your Name

    I agree with Jackie, Football should be football and not some Political ploy, we get enough of that everyday……..

  • JoAnn

    William – Any cursory research of the subject will lead you to learn that the vast majority of pedophiles are heterosexual.

  • JoAnn

    A point of agreement with regard to this ad might be that Pam Tebow had a CHOICE. That’s what most females want.

  • http://theprozacqueen.wordpress.com Shannon R.

    I saw the ad…it’s actually pretty stupid. If ManCrunch *had* been doing what CBS suggested and using the publicity garnered by this ‘controversy’ as a cheaper way to advertise, then they would be making one of the most effective marketing ploys out there…what’s the first thing you want to do when you hear something’s been banned? You want to see it, just to see what the big deal is. It’s really classic persuasion theory…at least, that was mentioned in some of my classes in college as an approach that might seem slightly underhanded, but would definitely call attention to yourself!
    But I know that’s not the point..there are some ‘straight’ commercials that I think more inappropriate for kids than this commercial ever would be…but then, it really should be about the game.

  • Exed

    I’m not here to voice if I care for gays or even care about their rights. What I care about is politics in Super Bowl. Now we said women want to have a “choice” but really to be honest lets face it. A child is a child from the minute its consumed in the belly but argue if that is the case another time. Anyways the Super Bowl is not the place for this type of ad. Second the Mancrunch I’m not so sure about. Its been proven in a study the affects of Media, the entertainment culture and its effects on people. What you don’t know is that the increase in gays has actually come from that, media. If gay was something of natural being as in throughout history you wouldn’t have an issue. But since this has never been the case then you have the issue. Gay isn’t accepted and won’t ever be accepted more than it is now. Why? Media… Media, media, and more media. If Gays didn’t get so much attention, so much praise along with bashing then maybe we’d be okay with that commercial. Society is messed up enough as it is. But so many against the idea makes you wonder one thing, is being gay really an okay thing? I have no answer to it but thats just one question I deal with all the time.

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  • Frank

    Exed, congratulations! That’s the stupidest argument I’ve read about homosexuality.
    I remember that at 22, I spoke to an older friend about being gay. It was the first time I’d said anything to anyone in the nine years that I had known I was gay. He asked me “Did you think you were the only one?” I said, “I was the only one I knew.” People who are raised in religious homes don’t get praised for homosexuality, they have scriptures read to them that threaten RITUAL MURDER, as in Leviticus.
    I’m glad the Mancrunch ad didn’t run. It trivializes peoples lives and relationships.

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    haha sound slike very clever marketing to me. I think you are absolutely right, they never had any intention to run the ad. They just knew it would cause a storm and they would get some free publicity out of it.
    The fact you have published this story and no doubt many others have too shows that it worked. Kudos to Mancrunch.com!

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  • http://www.dating-with-style.com Lou Brad

    I agree that the bid to run the ad was all just for controversy. If it did run it would surely alienate most of the viewers. Besides, if you want to run a gay dating ad where it would be most effective it probably should be on the Tony awards!

  • http://www.imaginewemeet.com Jay the Online Dating Guru

    I’m happy you posted a link to that Gay dating TV spot. I hadn’t seen it before and got a huge laugh. It was hilarious.

  • http://www.creativeanglephotography.com Orlando Photography by AM

    Any company, CBS included, absolutely has the right to accept or deny any advertisement, regardless of reason, as they see fit. In this case, it seems very reasonable that, as the super bowl is a time-honored celebration of conservative, traditional, heterosexual masculinity, it would clearly be a conflict of interests to portray, large as life, a couple of men behaving in a perverse, unmasculine way. People who are watching the super bowl do not want to see two men making out, they want to see men fighting it out with muscle and strategy on the field.
    Orlando Photography by AM

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    Well you know what they say about there not being any such thing as bad publicity. Sound like a clever bit of marketing to me. But hey if it works, then I wish them luck!

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