Women's groups to CBS: Nix the Focus on the Family Super Bowl ad

Calling CBS' decision to accept an advocacy ad to air in the Super Bowl "outrageous," women's groups are urging the network to pull a Focus on the Family commercial and asking like-minded people to sign a petition.

The Women's Media Center, a non-profit group that was founded in 2005 by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinem, is organizing the protest with the backing of the National Organization of Women and other groups, according to USA Today.

The ad in question was described by the non-profit Christian group Focus on the Family as featuring college football star Tim Tebow and his mom portraying a "meaningful message about family and life."
But a letter from the Women's Media Center paints the ad in another light. The commercial is likely to tell how Pam Tebow ignored a medical recommendation in 1987 to have an abortion, giving birth to Tim, USA Today says. "Focus on the Family has waged war on non-traditional families, tried its hand at race baiting during the 2008 election, and is now attempting to use the Super Bowl to further ramp up the vitriolic rhetoric surrounding reproductive rights," according to a protest letter on the Women's Media Center's Web site.

The heat on CBS comes after Tebow made comments to reporters on Sunday about about the ad, saying, ""I know some people won't agree with it, but I think they can at least respect that I stand up for what I believe," USA Today says.

The battle over the ad may prove that a Super Bowl just isn't complete until there's at least one advertising controversy. Previously, the biggest shock about the Feb. 7 game on an advertising front was the plummeting price of a 30-second spot. This year's game is selling commercial time for between $2.5 million to $2.8 million, compared with 2009's record $3 million.

Such advertising battles can provide huge -- and inexpensive -- public relations boosts to the creators of controversial ads. Take, for instance, last year's attempt by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to get an commercial into the Super Bowl. The ad featured beautiful women engaging in risque acts with vegetables, and was promptly rejected by NBC. PETA created a Website touting the rejected commercial, claiming it was "too hot for the Super Bowl."

A spokesman for the Focus on the Family told New York Daily News that its ad has "nothing political or controversial about it." Super Bowl viewers "will be quite surprised at what the ad is all about," spokesman Gary Schneeberger told the newspaper.

But according to the Women's Media Center's protest letter, Americans don't need CBS or advertisers to tell viewers how to plan their families. "Focus on the Family's ad is surrealistic in its argument that a woman who chooses not to have a child may be depriving the Super Bowl of a football player. It uses one family's story to dictate morality to the American public, and encourages young women to disregard medical advice, putting their lives at risk," the letter says.
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