CBS is breaking with a long-time tradition and allowing an anti-abortion ad to air during the Super Bowl. I don’t really think that the Super Bowl is a good venue for any sort of political and/or activist ads, and in the past the broadcasters have generally agreed, refusing ads from groups like PETA and Moveon.org.
I haven’t any real problem with this, despite that tradition. This is largely because a: I don’t care about football, not even the Super Bowl, and b: they’re free to do whatever they please with adverts. It’s a free country.
I do note with some interest that they are, however, refusing an ad from a gay dating website. The ad seems a lot more in line with the style and tone of Superbowl ads in the past. Makes me wonder what excuse they have for not accepting it. Well, let’s see what CNN’s article on it has to say.
“After reviewing the ad, which is entirely commercial in nature, our standards and practices department decided not to accept this particular spot,” said CBS spokeswoman Shannon Jacobs. “We are always open to working with a client on alternative submissions.”
[Elissa] Buchter [PR person from the site] provided a copy of the CBS rejection letter to CNNMoney, which states that the ad “is not within the Network’s broadcast standards for Super Bowl Sunday.”
Standards and Practices, for those who don’t know, is the department most TV networks maintain to, essentially, self-censor any content that might be deemed offensive to viewers and, by extension, other advertisers. So basically they thought it might offend football fans around the country to see two men making out with each other. Fair enough.
But rather than admit that was the real source of their worry, CBS had a few other excuses. They claim that the company’s credit wasn’t good enough to make them comfortable with selling ad time. Ok, that’s a good reason.
Well, it would be except that Mancrunch, the site in question, and boy that’s a name to conjure with, have said they offered to pay cash (CBS says they have no record of such an offer).
Now it’s possible at this point they just don’t have anymore ad time to sell, but I doubt that. There’s always room for more ads. It’s the freaking Super Bowl. It’s not about football; it’s about ad space. It’s basically several hours of commercials with a football game cleverly edited in.
Ultimately, as I said, CBS and the NFL absolutely have every right to pick and choose what ads to sell. If they want to have nothing but ads for, say, shaving cream, that’s their right. If they want to sell pro-life ad time, go ahead. If they want to refuse to sell ad time to a gay dating site, that’s fine.
I just wish they’d be upfront and say, “We don’t want to offend our largely homophobic fan-base with the image of two men together.” Anything else is ugly hypocrisy.