Opponents put focus on Super Bowl ad


As expensive, glitzy, sometimes over-the-top Super Bowl ads go, the 30-second spot that CBS has sold to Focus on the Family is likely to be one that most viewers would hardly have noticed. But that’s all changed because opponents of the conservative group have given the ad so much advance publicity.

Only a few people actually know what’s in the spot, which makes it all the more strange that its critics are so certain of their outrage. It will feature University of Florida football star Tim Tebow, who won the 2007 Heisman Trophy, and his mother, Pam. She has told the story numerous times of how as a missionary working overseas, she experienced complications while pregnant with Tim and that doctors had urged her to have an abortion to protect her own life. She refused and both, of course, are alive and healthy today.

Just how much of that story will be in the spot and how it will be presented, is known only to a limited number of people at Focus on the Family and CBS. The spot has passed muster with CBS’s current policy on issue advertising, but the network is facing a barrage of outrage from abortion rights groups demanding that it be dropped from the Super Bowl broadcast. CBS has refused, which has only caused the opponents to turn up the volume on their protests.

Focus on the Family, which is believed to be paying nearly $3 million for the 30 seconds of primo network time, has said the spot is inspirational and a celebration of family and life. But it’s not revealing exactly what the ad contains.

“Focus on the Family has an unmistakable anti-choice, anti-birth-control, anti-sex-education, anti-gay agenda. If that isn’t bad enough, its views on women are just plain insulting and dangerous,” declared an email from NARAL Pro-Choice America. The abortion rights group, along with others, has been rallying members to email CBS to express their displeasure with the network.

RBR-TVBR observation: Sometimes it is more effective to shut up and ignore the actions of the other side in a political battle, rather than to draw public attention to your opponents and enhance their attempt to get their message out. We suspect, though, that the abortion rights groups are doing considerable fundraising with this campaign against a spot that may, or may not, carry a strong anti-abortion message. In any case, Focus on the Family will probably get a boost in donations as a result of the fracas, so it can thank its opponents for helping to pay the bill to CBS.