Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tebow Super Bowl Ad: Biggest Story?

Tim Tebow's Super Bowl advertisement with Focus on the Family remains the most-talked-about ad of the Super Bowl -- and most-talked-about non-football story of the Super Bowl.

Following up its Sunday editorial supporting the airing of the ad, today's New York Times Business section has an entire column dedicated to the story.

Here's the money quote:

The extensive discussion about the spot demonstrates a reason advertisers spend so much on Super Bowl commercials: the talk value. Consumers chat about Super Bowl ads before, during and after they run — not only in the living room or around the water cooler but also on blogs, Facebook and Twitter.

Two companies, Alterian and Zeta Interactive, reported on Monday that their monitoring of online conversations about Super Bowl ads had found that the Focus on the Family spot had already been discussed more than any other planned to run in the game.

I'll go back to my big point from last week's post -- it's all about influence:

I go back to something we heard over and over when Tebow made his decision to come back to Florida for his senior year. It wasn't about winning a championship (although that was part of it). It wasn't about getting better-prepared for the NFL (although that was part of it).

No: The anecdote you heard over and over was about how blown away Tebow and his family were by the Google dominance of "John 3:16" when Tebow wore it on his eyeblack in the 2008 national title game. The revelation -- so to speak -- was that Tebow, coming back as the biggest rock star in college football history, had a massive platform to influence people... far more massive than he would have as an early-entry NFL rookie QB.

The Focus on the Family spot is not an ad during "How I Met Your Mother." This is an ad during the Super Bowl -- the most-watched TV show of the year, and regularly among the most-watched TV shows of all time.

This is -- by many, many multiples -- the biggest single platform Tebow has ever had to share his values and influence people.

Given what we know about how important that influence is to Tebow and his family -- and Focus on the Family's recognition that between CBS's desperation for Super Bowl ad money and the softly sold story of the Tebows that would pass corporate muster, they could get their own brand on the biggest stage possible -- Tebow's participation in this ad should come as no surprise.
Now consider the point presented in the Times column: It's not just that the ad will be seen by 100 million-plus people on Sunday; it's the multiplier effect of the exposure the ad has gotten -- in support and against -- in the last two weeks. And, arguably, the time spent discussing it before the game is a lot more intensive than the 30 seconds of the spot itself, which as I've argued, will likely be followed, for most people, by "So what was all the fuss about?"

We don't know what's in the ad, but we do know a couple of things:

*Tebow doing the ad is entirely consistent with his values -- although I doubt he would have done the ad had it been particularly strident. Tebow knows the value of the soft-sell.

*CBS doing the ad is entirely within their purview as the broadcaster -- although again: I doubt they would have allowed the ad had it been particularly strident.

*Put the last two bullets together: The ad will not be particularly strident. Yes, Focus on the Family has some strident positions, but they know better than to try to air them here.

Maybe you find that appropriate. Maybe you find that insidious. Maybe you care deeply -- one way or the other -- that this issue is getting a Super Bowl stage. Maybe you don't care -- perhaps even wishing that we could keep politics or moral issues out of a sports event.

The fact remains that this has become the most prominent story line of the Super Bowl that doesn't have to do with the game -- and, perhaps, even including the game.

UPDATE: You really must read this interesting, provocative and nuanced column from the Washington Post's Sally Jenkins.


  1. They talked about the ad on Larry King last night. They had the President of Focus on and also from NOW. Few things I learned:

    1.) The commercial will air during the first quarter early, when everyone is watching.

    2.) The president of Focus said that CBS was very strict on what they were able to say- CBS did not let them say that Pam and Tim's lives were at risk. I don't think it will be as overt as people think.

  2. Here is a clip.. and they say Pam's life was in danger.


  3. Tim's going to be at the Natl Prayer Breakfast next week & will probably be speaking at it:


    I hope this is a sign that Tim's health has improved.

  4. Also, thanks for the clip, Reed.

  5. My mistake: the prayer breakfast is apparently THIS Thursday, not next week.

  6. Who is Susan Vanderlinde? I guess she is his agent who handles speaking engagements. etc.?

  7. Check out Tim's site for his foundation! It's starting!


  8. Great quote from Peyton Manning...

    "Manning defended another quarterback — Tim Tebow — and scoffed at the suggestion the former Florida Gator wouldn’t make it as an NFL quarterback.

    “You be careful putting odds against him,’’ he said. “A guy as competitive as that, any NFL team would be lucky to have Tim Tebow, as a quarterback. I’d take him in a heartbeat. He has done a lot of damage to Tennessee over the years, so I am not disappointed to see him graduate.’’

    When a reporter asked how Manning would fare operating the Wildcat offense, he chuckled."

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Great article from the Washington Post.

  11. I love Sally Jenkins' column, btw. She said a lot of what I've been thinking about this.