A groundbreaking Super Bowl ad that you shouldn't miss

The first-ever domestic violence ad on the Super Bowl. How effective will it be?


There's a haunting simplicity and spareness about this Super Bowl ad that makes it powerful.

It will be only 30 seconds long, so you might even miss it as you lunge for the buffalo wings or race for a refill.

But it's worth seeing – if only to say that you saw it. 

For the first time ever, an advertisement condemning domestic violence will air during the Super Bowl, the premiere TV viewing event of the year. 

As the ad opens, a woman's voice is heard calling 911 and ordering a pizza. The camera pans a dark, empty house. The 911 dispatcher, at first, responds with some frustration over the misdialed number. But then, the dispatcher catches on. The woman can't talk openly. She's only pretending to order a pizza.

Leslie Morgan Steiner, the author of "Crazy Love," a memoir about surviving violence in her first marriage, describes the public service ad this way:

This commercial, created by the advocacy group No More, is the only TV ad that has ever made me bury my head in my hands and sob. Listening to the woman ask for help reminded me of the two policemen who came to my home 23 years ago when my abusive husband choked me and beat me so severely I thought he would kill me.

As this year's cases of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (beating his then fiancée) and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (beating his son) highlighted this past year, the NFL has domestic abuse problem. "Domestic violence accounts for 48 percent of arrests for violent crimes among NFL players, compared to our estimated 21 percent nationally," reported Fivethirtyeight.com, a respected analytical site.

The NFL has partnered with NOMORE.org to produce a series of public service announcements that have aired during NFL games over the past several months. The NFL has also taken steps to improve its response to perpetrators of domestic violence, including a new Personal Conduct Policy. In the wake of the two-game suspension for Ray Rice, the NFL has instituted stronger stronger penalties, and mandatory education programs for all NFL personnel, and expanded those programs for college, high school and youth athletes. 

And the NFL has hired Cynthia Hogan as its top Washington lobbyist. Ms. Hogan played a key role in passing the Violence Against Women Act in 1994. 

Of course, one ad won't bring an end to this problem. But as a financially strong enterprise, whose primary audience is men, a continuing NFL focus on this problem could make a dent in it. As Hogan wrote in Politico:

The league has a responsibility to fix its problem but also an opportunity to try to change how our society thinks about and responds to a problem that exists everywhere, yet too often remains unseen.

It will be seen on Super Bowl Sunday, by upwards of 100 million people.

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