Tuesday, January 26, 2010

CBS Courting Controversy Over Super Bowl Ad Buy?

Is CBS courting controversy over a Super Bowl advertisement that is expected to run? (HT: Legalbgl) CBS sold a spot during the Super Bowl to Focus on Families starring college football star Ted Tebow. It's a pro-life ad:
The ad is funded by the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family. It is expected to recount the story of Pam Tebow's pregnancy in 1987. After getting sick, she ignored doctors' recommendation to abort her fifth child and gave birth to Tim, a Heisman Trophy winner.
They've relaxed their restrictions on advocacy ads in response, and also to sell the last few remaining slots during the Super Bowl.

The Super Bowl reliably provides one of the largest audiences nationally every year, and the cost to run ads can run into the millions of dollars (this year, they are running around $2.5 to 2.8 million per 30-second slot).

Tebow may lose endorsement money for pushing his pro-life view (some advertisers may shy away from someone who espouses views on lightning rod issues rather than remaining publicly silent on such matters), and that is his right and choice, just as surely as CBS is more than willing to accept the money from the group.

Will the ad be effective? I'm not sure. It depends to a great extent on how it is done and how Tebow comes across. Sporting News suggests that Focus on the Family has gone with a soft-sell, which got the approval:
It is against CBS's policy to run advocacy ads, even those with "implicit" endorsements for one side of a public debate, Media Daily News reports. CBS will review the spot before giving it final approval.

Focus on the Family said only that the ad would carry a "Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life" theme.
If it isn't done right, I don't think people are going to care to hear the message, even if they may be favorable to it. It's the Super Bowl and they'd rather be entertained than hectored or lectured.

The ad could definitely raise the profile for the pro-life group, but backlash is already developing - particularly against CBS, where NOW and several other groups are urging CBS to drop the ad.

CBS says that they've revamped their ad policy and would allow more advocacy advertisements to run.

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