Super Bowl ads can be more fun than the game. And what’s more fun than a Super Bowl ad? A banned Super Bowl ad, of course. And what’s more exciting than that? A Super Bowl ad banned for celebrating life. You can see the banned ad here and read more about how the banning may actually lead to more people watching it.
The Colorado Springs Gazette editorializes: Some of the great ads that played for last year’s Super Bowl included one about a man so excited about his beer he could fly – up until he was sucked into a jet engine like a goose. Bridgestone Tires showed a machismo driver barreling down the road to run over the always-effeminate Richard Simmons, doing jumping jacks on the highway in his trademark candy-striped hot pants. And those ads for GoDaddy.com always push the boundaries of risqué, with the company’s scantily clad, buxom model sexing it up.
Still, the best ads are the rejected ones. And today, thanks to YouTube, we’re able to see those ads whenever we want. Some of the banned ads by GoDaddy.com, Bud Light, and People for the Ethnical Treatment of Animals have garnered substantial audiences on YouTube. All were deemed a tad too sexy, even for a 21st-century audience. A banned PETA ad features women doing things with fruit that children shouldn’t see.
But this year’s Super Bowl will be known for a whole different kind of ad ban. By the time the game airs today, this may be the most widely viewed banned Super Bowl ad of all time. Unlike the others, it’s not risqué in the least. It’s not something anyone should blush at, or fear allowing their children to see. It’s not shocking, or confrontational. This year’s high profile ban involves an ad that suggests considering the potential of a child.
It’s not an ad that advocates a law against abortion, or one that asks for anything that would reduce the rights of women to obtain abortions. In fact, it’s exactly the kind of positive message the pro-life community should promote more often. It’s a move away from bleeding dolls on sticks and photos of babies in trash cans.
The commercial, which NBC executives won’t tolerate, begins with an ultrasound image of a baby moving in a mother’s womb. Words appear on screen: “This child’s future is a broken home. He will be abandoned by his father. His single mother will struggle to raise him. Despite the hardships, he will endure. This child will become the first African American president.”
A flattering picture of President Barack Obama appears, with the words: “Life. Imagine the potential.” You can view the ad here.
It’s difficult to imagine why this couldn’t air. There’s no half-nude woman. There’s no violence. There’s nothing in it that could possibly violate the standards and practices policies of any mainstream media organization.
And it’s not something Obama hasn’t said. In a 2007 CNN interview, Obama explained that “God created the Universe,” as told in the Bible, an account which is “fundamentally true.” Asked when life begins, he said: “What I know, as I’ve said before, there is something extraordinarily powerful about potential life, and that has a moral weight to it that we take into consideration.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zk6iB30L4tQ)
Translation: Life. Imagine the potential.
NBC officials say the network won’t run commercials involving “political advocacy or issues” during the Super Bowl. Yet it didn’t reject PETA’s ad because it was “political,” or “issues” oriented. It banned the ad only because it featured women getting intimate with produce.
The “imagine the potential” commercial doesn’t advocate political action. It’s not about an “issue,” or a bill, a ballot measure or a court case. It’s merely a suggestion that we consider the potential of a child. It’s a celebration of our president’s life. If it’s too controversial to imagine the potential of life and appreciate the president, in between beer commercials, we are a troubled nation.
Sponsors of the commercial, however, should not despair. A banned commercial sometimes gets more attention than one that airs. Certainly this one will. Before Super Bowl Sunday, it already had a million views on YouTube, and the controversy could make it make it among the Internet’s most popular shows. Pro-lifers should imagine the potential of this ad, and they should thank NBC for the publicity of a scandal.
CREDIT – This editorial was printed in the Colorado Springs Gazette on January 30, 2009.