CBS Will Run Super Bowl Ad From Focus on the Family

7 years ago

In a departure from previous Super Bowl broadcasts, CBS will run an ad from advocacy group Focus on the Family during the February 7 broadcast. Previously CBS and NBC have turned down an anti-abortion ad featuring President Obama's life story, as well as spots produced by PETA, and The United Church of Christ.

CBS has approved the script of the ad, which features University of Florida football star Tim Tebow along with his mother. The 30-second spot will tell the story of mother Pam's difficult pregnancy and Tebow's birth. Focus on the Family says that the ad is intended to promote the theme "Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life." While not explicitly advocating an anti-abortion stance (and, from reports of what the ad will show, it could be construed as a round-about pro-choice message), that seems to be the intended message.

In PETA's case, the animal-rights group refused to make NBC's suggested edits, and gained as much, if not more, publicity from the network's rejection of the ad. Focus on the Family, on the other hand, reportedly has tailored the script so as not to run afoul of network standards that would prohibit the ad.

While CBS's decision appears to some to contradict its rejection of the UCC ad, which was seemingly rejected for a pro-gay rights message, the current state of the economy and the advertising market might have something to do with the ad's acceptance. Long-time advertisers like Pepsi, FedEx and GM have pulled out of the Super Bowl this year, choosing to shift their spending to lower-cost digital options rather than spending the nearly $6 million per minute cost of Super Bowl advertising. Also, CBS may hope that running this ad might curry favor with some of those outraged by the infamous Janet Jackson "wardrobe malfunction," for which the FCC is attempting to fine the network $550,000 after receiving a deluge of complaints.

Focus on the Family has come under some fire for spending millions on a Super Bowl ad on the heels of laying off hundreds of staffers. However, the opportunity to hitch its wagon to Tim Tebow's rising star while simultaneously re-branding and softening its extremist image was a calculated gamble that I'm sure the group hopes will drive donations that will more than outweigh the ad spend.

As for Tebow, while he quite possibly does not care about any possible negative PR consequences, it could be a shrewd branding move for him. Tebow will no longer be allowed to place references to the Bible in his eyeblack once he moves on to the NFL. And his evangelical Christianity will not be as much of a draw to the NFL fan base as it was to southern college football fans. By linking his life story to the NFL in this way, he is launching his career in a way that is authentic to him and introduces himself to a new group of potential fans, regardless of which team drafts him. Plus, his religious beliefs have not generated much (if any) negative press so far because he plays well. That perception will probably only increase once he's in the NFL, where controversy of any kind seems not to hurt any player who can win games.

Do you think this is a smart branding and marketing move for CBS, Focus on the Family, Tim Tebow, some or none of them? Will this ad cut through the Super Bowl ad mania and have a lasting impact on viewers?

Related Reading:

Jessica at Feministing: Focus on the Family to run anti-choice Super Bowl ad

Christine at A Catholic View: Confirmed: Tim Tebow Superbowl Ad Set to Run

Jodi Jacobson at RH Reality Check: CBS Allows Anti-Choice SuperBowl Ad Despite "No Advocacy in Advertising" Policy

Amanda Terkel at Think Progress: CBS Approves Focus On The Family's Super Bowl Ad, Despite Its Policy Against Advocacy Spots

Chelsea Zimmerman at Reflections of a Paralytic: Tebow Pro-Life Super Bowl Commercial Buzz

Jen McCreight at Blag Hag: A superbowl ad that manages to combine all of my favorite things!

mimintampa at Alligator Army: Tebow, His Commercial And The NFL

Dabitch at Adland.TV: Tim Tebow's anti-abortion Superbowl ad already causing a backlash

Kevin McCauley at O'Dwyer's Blog: Covering PR, public affairs, marketing and the world of communications.: Pepsi Scores with Plan to Skip Super Bowl Ad

BlogHer CE Maria Niles blogs marketing and branding at Fizz from ConsumerPop and politics at PopConsumer.

BlogHer Contributing Editor PopConsumer Beyond Help

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