Game Gets More Political
There's a new Super Bowl surprise from Focus on the Family: a second ad.
The evangelical group that bought ad time in the CBS game telecast will announce today that it has bought time in the pregame show to air a second ad four times.
The new ad also features star quarterback Tim Tebow and his mother, Pam. It was filmed in Orlando last month at the same time as the group's controversial - though yet unseen - in-game ad.
News of the second ad comes just days after, anticipating the Tebow ad, Planned Parenthood posted an online ad featuring Olympian Al Joyner and former NFL player Sean James defending abortion rights. Interest groups including the National Organization for Women have asked CBS to drop the Tebow ad.
Although Focus on the Family won't reveal its ads' details, CEO Jim Daly says the original ad was rejected by CBS. In it, Pam Tebow, who was advised by a doctor to have an abortion for medical reasons when pregnant with her son, said, "Both of our lives were at risk."
"They felt that was too much," he says. "So we dropped the line. We didn't fight them." The word "abortion" is never used.
The ad is "an open discussion on the sanctity of human life - not just the issue of abortion," Daly says. It was made for less than $100,000 with "a bit of humor in it - in fitting with the Super Bowl theme."
The ad has gotten more pregame buzz than any other game ad. "It's become a flashpoint because everybody keeps telling us it's a flashpoint," says Robert Thompson, pop culture professor at Syracuse University. "Many people who didn't know who Tim Tebow was now know the whole narrative. They could pull the ad (now) and save $2.8 million (the estimated cost of the ad time in the game)."
But the group estimates that by the game's end, the ad also will have gotten $10 million worth of free exposure.
"I've seen this called brilliant marketing strategy," laughs Daly. "Well, I can assure you this was not something where we sat down to demonstrate brilliance."
The idea came from the group's film unit. Daly decided it was a Super Bowl ad. "I thought it was the perfect moment."
He coaxed CBS to ease the game's unwritten ban on advocacy ads. CBS says it's adjusting to a changing society. "We have for some time moderated our approach to advocacy submissions after it became apparent that our stance did not reflect public sentiment or industry norms," spokeswoman Shannon Jacobs says.
Daly says don't look for Focus on the Family again next year. "It would lose its punch."