Watchdog throws flag on football ads


“I wasn’t too happy with ads for erectile-dysfunction drugs popping up every 15 minutes whenever I watched a football game with my daughters in the room.” Those are the words of Barack Obama from his “The Audacity of Hope,” and they’re being used by Common Sense Media to draw attention to advertising during NFL games. The children’s watchdog (upon whose board sits purported incoming FCC chair Julius Genachowski) monitored 5K ads, and found one in six inappropriate for children. It cites Nielsen to say that 5.3M kids are watching.

Among its findings: 40% of all games have erectile dysfunction ads; 300 of the 5K ads were for alcohol; 500 were violent, some to the point of depicting murder; and 80 were sexually charged. Interestingly, the networks had only themselves to blame for almost half of the violent and sexual material, which were in-house promos for other network programming.

Founder and CEO James Steyer commented, “The game of football is great fun for families, but it can be really awkward for parents when they have to explain erectile dysfunction on a Sunday afternoon, or have to dive for the remote during violent promos for network shows. I know we speak for millions of football fans and parents everywhere when we say this situation is really getting ridiculous.”

RBR/TVBR observation: Just in case anybody thought the perennial Washington sport of protecting our children was going anywhere – it isn’t. It is a no-lose proposition for politicians. But we’ll flip this on its head and note that broadcasters are airing 83.3% of the ads are perfectly blameless by this watchdog’s definition. Add to that the fact that as parents we haven’t had any embarrassing moments watching football with our children – ages 9 and 11 – that we can remember, ever, and we have to believe this isn’t all that big of a problem.