When 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?