January 18, 2010: Tim Tebow and his mother are seeking to join the roster of first-time advertisers on CBS during Super Bowl XLIV.
Tebow, who quarterbacked the University of Florida to two national titles and who won the Heisman Trophy in 2007, has shot a 30-second spot for Focus on the Family, which describes itself as "a global non-profit Christian organization with a vision for healing brokenness in families, communities and societies worldwide through Christ."
In a statement, Focus on the Family said that it would "broadcast the first Super Bowl ad in its history Febr.7 during CBS Sports' coverage of the game at Dolphin Stadium in South Florida."
CBS issued a statement on Jan. 20 saying that it had approved a script from Focus on the Family but neeed to see a final version before allowing the spot to air. Analysts indicated that could mean the group would focus on its "Celebrate Family. Celebrate Life" theme without pushing an anti-abortion message.
Networks in the past have generally steered clear of Super Bowl commercials that could put them in the middle of national controversy regarding issues of abortion, religion, sexual orientation or sex. GoDaddy and PETA, for example, have filmed spots that were intended for airing during previous Super Bowls but were not accepted by the networks. NBC may have set the precedent last year when it decided not to accept an ad for Super Bowl XLIII broadcast from Fidelis, a "Pro Life, Pro Family" group based in Chicago, in which President Obama is depicted as an unborn child, claiming, according to Fidelis, that NBC "did not want to run political or advocacy ads" during the game.
CBS would be especially leery of such situations as it was the network that found itself in the middle of the controversy involving Janet Jackson and her "wardrobe malfunction" during the half time show of Super Bowl XXXVIII.
Although news of the story hit national media this past weekend based on the press release issued by Focus on the Family, Rich Tosches of the Colorado Springs Independent, where the group is based, had details on the ad on Dec. 24, 2009.
Creative was not released, but the group said in a statement that the Tebows "will share a personal story centering on the theme 'Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life.'" The anti-abortion stand that Tebow and Focus initially appeared to be taking would be a far cry from the typical humorous beer, chips and auto ads for which the Super Bowl is famous.
Jim Daly, president and CEO of Focus on the Family, said in the statement that funds to create and air the 30-second spot - which are going for $2.5-2.8 million on CBS - came from a handful of "very generous and committed friends who donated specifically to support the project. No money from the ministry's general fund was used." Daly did not say when the ad would run during the Super Bowl should it be accepted by CBS, information generally considered to be marketing gold in getting viewers to watch. There also was no comment on whether the ad would run elsewhere if CBS chooses not to air it during the Super Bowl.
First-time advertisers officially on the Super Bowl XLIV telecast include Dr Pepper, HomeAlone, Electronic Arts, truTV and kgb.
Tebow, whose status in the 2010 NFL Draft has been under debate by analysts, some of whom feel he will not be a pro quarterback, already has created a debate with the announcement of his appearance in this ad. On Twitter, for example, where this has been among the hottest "Trending Topics" since the ad was revealed. numerous tweets have appeared in favor of Tebow while others are expressing such sentiments as, "Here is why everyone should be hating Tim Tebow" and "As penance may he forever be stuck on special teams in the NFL."
Tebow is scheduled to play for the South Team in the 2010 Under Armour Senior Bowl on Jan. 30 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala., considered a prime testing ground that attracts a plethora of NFL scouts. The game and all practices will be televised by the NFL Network.
"The chance to partner with the Tebows and lift up a meaningful message about family and life comes at the right moment in the culture, because families need to be inspired," said Daly in his statement. "Now that the ad has been shot, we're excited to tell people it's coming, because the Tebows' story is such an important one for our culture to hear."