Tim Tebow Super Bowl ad: a Pandora’s box for TV sports?
Now accepting advocacy ads that hew to evolving ‘norms,’ CBS reverses its previous policy and shakes up Super Bowl Sunday. The flip side: Events from Super Sunday to the Daytona 500 could become a parade of in-your-face social commentary.
The decision by CBS to reverse its policy of refusing advocacy ads for the Super Bowl has erupted into controversy over the Tim Tebow antiabortion ad, which in turn touched off a meaning-of-feminism debate between Sarah Palin and the National Organization for Women.
Expect lots more where that came from.
For starters: An ad for ManCrunch, a gay dating service whose tagline is “Where many, many, many men come out to play,” is now being reviewed for appropriateness by CBS. The ad features two men watching football who turn to each other and start making out, to the shock of a third buddy.
The combination of the CBS policy change (approved by the NFL), media companies desperate for cash, and last week’s Supreme Court ruling on campaign advertising all but ensures that America’s sports-watching experience is about to be inundated by political messaging, pop culture experts say.
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Open door for advocacy groups?
“In agreeing to air the Focus on the Family's anti-abortion commercial with Florida quarterback Tim Tebow next Sunday, CBS has touched off a discussion on whether the relatively bliss-filled nature of sports television should be intruded upon by real life,” writes Milton Kent on the FanHouse blog. "The ad opens the door for advocacy groups of all political stripes and causes to spread their messages to sports telecasts, which, by and large, have been devoid of that kind of controversy."
CBS took heat in 2004 for turning down a gay-friendly ad. The network recently said a statement that it “became apparent that our stance did not reflect public sentiment or industry norms.” CBS says it is still reviewing ads for the Super Bowl broadcast and judging whether they’re “appropriate for air.”
But as with the gay dating service ad, CBS now ensures that its internal reviews will come under scrutiny. If the network airs an antiabortion ad meant to be inspiring – like the story of how Tebow’s mom went against a doctor’s suggestions to have an abortion in order to give birth to Tebow, a future Heisman Trophy winner – it’ll be increasingly difficult for the network to turn down other “inspiring” messaging ads depicting other viewpoints.