The Ad That Loosed 1,000 Lips
By Phil Lawler
That's it? That?!
Two weeks of internet obsession, and the Tim Tebow ad was over in 30 seconds. It was nice.
If you were measuring public opinion with a sufficiently sensitive instrument, you might have seen the needle quiver for a second or two. Focus on the Family no doubt saw a big spike in internet traffic, and they generally do good work, so that's nice too.
Today-- the morning after-- I see pro-lifers commenting that the abortion lobby looks foolish, for having fought so hard against the airing of such an inoffensive ad. It's true that abortion advocates came off as the extremists they truly are. But folks, let's be honest: they weren't the only ones shouting about this ad. And I read that a counter-commercial, quickly produced by the Planned Parenthood types, didn't even show the nerve to mention the "a" word. Um, folks, did you see that word in the Tebow script?
It was nice. That's all you can say for it, really. Did it deserve all the excitement, pro and con? Not a chance.
Not quite 3 weeks ago, pro-lifers were giddy with delight at the election of a Senator nobody knows: a man who favors legal abortion. Last week we were caught up in a frenzy over a television commercial: a nice little story. Friends, we need to calm down. This is going to be a long struggle; we'll need hundreds-- thousands-- of such small incremental steps forward. Not every battle is Armageddon.
CEO, Trinity Consulting
Many who watched the Super Bowl this weekend saw the Focus on the Family commercial featuring Tim Tebow. Just as many didn’t. The brief commercial caught many unawares (in a couple of different ways), and people flocked to the Internet to find out either what they missed or to try to see what the fuss was really about. The Focus on the Family website featured not the ad itself, but rather several videos talking about the ad, the pro-life message, and Focus on the Family. (The ad became available later.)
If you have watched the ad, you know that a more innocuous commercial has never aired on television. In fact, it led ESPN.com to poll users “If not for the controversy circulated in previous days, would you have known what the Tebow ad was about?” (paraphrased). The last time I checked, 85% said “No” and 15% claimed “yes”, they would have known what the ad was about. I’m inclined to doubt the 15%.
If you were disappointed that Focus on the Family and the Tebow family did not use this commercial opportunity to make a more powerful statement, don’t be. Focus on the Family executed a masterful campaign.
What made it so masterful? Let’s be real here. Focus on the Family must have known that there was very little chance that a strongly pro-life advertisement would be passed by the network censors. They accepted that premise, and worked within the established parameters. Simply put, they got an advertisement aired during the Super Bowl that was blatantly pro-life without containing a blatantly pro-life (or anti-abortion) message.
And by doing that, Focus was able to generate the buzz that made the whole thing worthwhile. They put out bait that was bit on by media, pro-life advocacy groups, and pro-abortion advocacy groups. My guess is that millions were exposed to a pro-life message both prior to the Super Bowl, during the Super Bowl, and after the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood and other like-minded organizations, who objected strenuously to the ad’s airing, look like they majorly overreacted.
It is very difficult to gauge the net worth of a campaign like this—any meaningful statistics that are produced by Focus and allies will be some time in coming, if they appear at all. This is because the meaningful statistics will be the number of babies saved, not the number of people who viewed the advertisement.
However, this is a very good example of how pro-life organizations can take advantage of “perfect opportunities” to create a media sensation around the pro-life message.