Movie Mom

Movie Mom


The Battle Over Super Bowl Ads

posted by Nell Minow

On February 7, the Saints will take on the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV. And the ads are as high-profile as the game. Companies and groups must pay CBS more than $2 million in addition to the cost of producing the ad, which can be as much per-minute as a feature film.
A lot of people want to reach the Super Bowl audience and some want to sell ideas, not products. CBS, which has refused some “advocacy” ads in the past, this year has said they will permit those that are “responsibly produced.” They have already been criticized for agreeing to run an ad from Focus on the Family that features college football player Tim Tebow and his mother. She explains that though she was advised to get an abortion after she became ill, she continued the pregnancy and gave birth to Tebow. The Women’s Media Center and a group of organizations dedicated to reproductive rights, tolerance, and social justice have protested.
CBS is also getting complaints about what it is not showing. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has called on CBS to explain why it is refusing to run an ad for a gay dating site called Mancrunch during the Super Bowl. CBS issued a statement but did not explain their concerns: “After reviewing the ad — which is entirely commercial in nature — 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.”
The Washington Post has a thoughtful op-ed by Frances Kissling, the former president of Catholics for Choice and Kate Michelman, former president of Naral Pro-Choice America, on “what Tim Tebow’s Super Bowl ad can teach the pro-choice movement.”

For abortion rights supporters, picking on Tim Tebow and his mom is not the way to go. Instead of trying to block or criticize the Focus on the Family ad, the pro-choice movement needs its own Super Bowl strategy….We’d go with a 30-second spot, too. The camera focuses on one woman after another, posed in the situations of daily life: rushing out the door in the morning for work, flipping through a magazine, washing dishes, teaching a class of sixth-graders, wheeling a baby stroller. Each woman looks calmly into the camera and describes her different and successful choice: having a baby and giving it up for adoption, having an abortion, having a baby and raising it lovingly. Each one being clear that making choices isn’t easy, but that life without tough choices doesn’t exist.

I think CBS should be open to “responsibly produced” advocacy ads on any issue of public concern. I doubt that the Focus on the Family will change anyone’s mind, and I support the right of Tenbow and his mother to tell their story and explain their views. I can imagine gay dating site ads that would and would not be appropriate. And I share the concerns of parents who are uncomfortable with the ads for ED and prostate medication, sexual pleasure aids and other highly personal items during telecasts of sporting events. What do you think?



  • Steven Ertelt

    Join LifeNews.com, Americans United for Life and 75,000+ people as we support Focus on the Family and their pro-life ad celebrating Tim Tebow and his mother’s decision to not abort him. http://www.facebook.com/TebowSuperBowlAd

  • Laurie

    So, GoDaddy.com ads are “responsibly produced”? I accepted long ago that TV ads will provide conversation starters for me and my kids. Doesn’t matter if it’s sports, or Oprah or prime time. If it’s content is acceptable, then the network shouldn’t censor who gets time and who doesn’t.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    A very good point and a very good response, Laurie! If advertisers are spending more than $2 million to air the ads, the commercial and issue advertisers want to make sure that they get their money’s worth by making sure people talk about them afterward. I am sure that the day after, there will be some ad that people will find offensive and I’ll be commenting on it. And that people like you will use it as an opportunity to talk to kids about values to make the most of it.

Previous Posts

Telling Time in "All That Jazz"
One of my favorite writers provides insights into one of my favorite (if flawed) movies -- Matt Zoller Seitz created a beautiful video essay about Bob Fosse's autobiographical "All That Jazz" for the Criterion Edition, and then they were unable to use it due to rights problems with the movie clips h

posted 3:19:48pm Sep. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Tomorrow on PBS: The Makers: Comedy
Be sure to tune in to PBS tomorrow night for what is sure to be one of the highlights from one of the all-time best series on PBS: "The Makers," the story of women in America.  Tomorrow's episode is about women in comedy. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHxHMgSF7UI[/youtube]

posted 8:00:45am Sep. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Tomorrow on HBO: "The Fifty Year Argument" -- Scorsese on The New York Review of Books
Once upon a time, there was no internet. And instead of bloggers and pundits and tweets we had something called public intellectuals, people who read widely, thought deeply, and wrote long, passionate, carefully reasoned, thoroughly documented and beautifully written articles about the important is

posted 3:59:26pm Sep. 28, 2014 | read full post »

FREE Tickets to "The Good Lie" on Sept 30, 2014 in DC!
Based on a true story, "The Good Lie" is about young survivors of the brutal civil war in Sudan, which began in 1983.  These children traveled as many as a thousand miles on foot in search of safety.  Fifteen years later, a humanitarian effort would bring 3600 lost boys and girls to America.  Pla

posted 11:50:22am Sep. 28, 2014 | read full post »

The Sensational Hollywood Costume Exhibit Comes to LA
The gorgeous Hollywood Costume exhibit that has been getting rave reviews and massive crowds at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London is coming to Los Angeles, its final stop.  The costumes will be

posted 8:00:05am Sep. 28, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.