mixed messages

CBS Banned This United Church of Christ Ad. But It OK’d a Pro-Life Ad for the Super Bowl?

In December 2004, the television network CBS sent a letter to the United Church of Christ, explaining why a new ad campaign of inclusiveness — carrying the slogan “Jesus Didn’t Turn People Away. Neither Do We.” — was rejected for broadcast. CBS does not permit any ad that “touches on and/or takes a position on one side of a current controversial issue of public importance,” UCC leaders were told. So why, then, is the network now accepting an ad from Focus on the Family, which paid around $2.5 million for a pro-life ad featuring Univ. of Florida quarterback Tim Tebrow?

Maybe because CBS is hard up for cash, and anyone willing to pay its rates for a 30-second spot is kosher to them. (Especially since the ad rates are down from last year’s estimated $3 million per 30 seconds, which NBC charged.)

But this is more than a question of whether a network like CBS should approve or reject these types of ads. It’s whether they’ll stick to their own policies in the future. CBS told UCC at the time it had “a longstanding policy of not accepting advocacy advertising.” That long-standing policy, it seems, has disappeared. (Given that we haven’t seen the FOTF ad, we’re going off what the group has said publicly about the spot, which indicates it will be very clearly pro-life.)

And since CBS is willing to stampede all over its own self-imposed restrictions, it has us wondering whether CBS would accept an ad from the Human Rights Campaign promoting federal marriage equality. Alright, then would CBS accept a similar ad, from the National Organization for Marriage, arguing the exact opposite?

Worth remembering in all this: Super Bowl ads are not about the spots themselves — which Madison Avenue considers ineffective on a dollar-for-dollar basis — but about generating publicity. And it’s clear that all the talk about this one ad is doing more for FOTF’s cause than the 30-second spot might manage.

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  • Mark

    The many shades of ignorance and bigotry.

  • Mark

    The many shades of ignorance and bigotry brought to you by CBS.

  • Swellster

    Not to quibble, but it’s “Tebow’ not “Tebrow.” You hurt your credibility when you make pedestrian errors like this that should be caught in basic editing.

    BTW, I agree with your point.

  • jason

    Good find by the editors of Queerty. Yes, I do remember CBS’s rejection of that other ad. They are such hypocrites there at CBS. I hope their ratings tank.

  • Greg Theron

    CBS is a whore. They ban all the good commercials, even all the PETA ones!

  • romeo

    CBS may regret this. The story hit the nightly news tonight and the reactions were not favorable about turning the beer fest super bowl into a political football. Apparently there’s a lot of negative fan reaction. BTW: CBS did this because they need the money. Ad revenue is way down this year I hear.

  • soul_erosion

    Coming to light now, according to a CNN interview with a woman attorney, that Timmy Teblow’s mother may not have based her choice of not having an abortion on her faith, but rather that it was illegal in the Phillipines to have an abortion (and still is), her doctors must have informed her not only was it against the law for them to perform an abortion but that it carried a 2-6 year prison term. CBS should put a disclaimer on that ad.

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