10 Responses to Rejected John 3:16 Ad for Super Bowl

This Has “Bad Idea” Written All Over It

Monday, November 15, AD 2010

Pat Archbold relays news about a potential pro-life ad during next year’s Super Bowl.

A small group of antiabortion-rights advocates are hoping to recruit a presidential candidate so they can run graphic ads showing aborted fetuses during the Super Bowl, Congress.org reports.

The group hopes to employ the same tactic used during the midterm elections by Missy Smith, an antiabortion-rights activist who unsuccessfully ran for Washington, D.C., delegate. Smith “took advantage of federal rules that prevent broadcasters from censoring election ads unless they defame others or violate copyright,” according to Congress.org. In the early 1990s, the Federal Communications Commission and federals court ruled that graphic abortion images are not indecent.

I happen to think there is a place for graphic images of aborted fetuses in an effort to dem0nstrate the brutal and inhuman nature of abortion.  This, though, is not an appropriate venue.  While this is the most highly-watched television program of the year and an event that would guarantee maximum coverage, it would be more likely to turn off and offend viewers than to convince them of the moral depravity of abortion.  As several commenters noted, this is a family viewing event, and I don’t think I’d want small children of my own subjected to those images quite yet, and certainly others who are on the fence on this issue would feel the same.

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2 Responses to This Has “Bad Idea” Written All Over It

The Romance of the Press

Thursday, July 1, AD 2010

It’s been interesting, though a bit odd, for me, watching the hand-wringing over the “death of the press” as some of the major newspapers struggle to figure out how to make their budgets work in a world in which fewer people read “dead tree” editions and advertisers can take advantage of more targeted advertising online and in specialty publications. There is, it seems, a level of reverence which many people seem to attach to “the press”, which does not seem well born out what it actually is.

Looked at historically and economically — newspapers exist as a delivery system for ads. They seek to provide stories that people want to read (whether “news”, human interest, comics, crosswords or recipes) in order to persuade people it’s worth parting with the artificially low newsstand or subscription price.

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16 Responses to The Romance of the Press

  • Looked at historically and economically — newspapers exist as a delivery system for ads.

    Historically? No. Modern economics? Yes. And this is probably one of the reasons why there is a problem.

  • Historically, yes. If you look at the rise of the major newspapers in the 19th century, they were very explicitly a way to sell ads (and subscription bases in order to gain ad revenue.) Much good and bad (the rise of comics as an art form, the rise of ‘yellow journalism’) can be traced to the race for circulation (and thus profit).

  • Looked at historically and economically — newspapers exist as a delivery system for ads.

    Not really. That was more a product of corporatization of newspapers. Newspapers have historically been low budget affairs sponsered by some ideologue. You can see this in the newspaper names themselves.

    Marketing itself starts in about 1900s. Mass marketing got going in the 1920s.

  • If you doubt that the big, profitable newspapers of the 19th and early 20th century (they became less profitable with the rise of weekly magazines in the 20s and 30s) were not vehicles for partisanship and advertising (even ahead of news gathering), you simply haven’t spent much, if any, time in an archive. Start with Horace Greeley’s Tribune, which ruled some big roosts for nearly forty years.

    We also see this sort of thing when folks want to claim our current political claimate is oh so heated and dangerous. Not by historical standards it ain’t. Start with….well, any presidential election in the 1800s.

    Darwin’s point that newspapers existed in no small part as a delivery system for ads is pretty easy to verify, particularly if you look at the papers that mattered before 1900, shortly before the LA Times got really into crime reporting (Chicago, New York, Boston, Baltimore).

  • There is a difference between a discussion of “big, profitable newspapers” and “newspapers.” The second is a larger group.

  • Newspapers have historically been low budget affairs sponsered by some ideologue.

    You could say that pamplets were low budget affairs sponsored by some ideologue, and that the readings of governor’s declarations and the like were newspapers, but I think the definition of newspaper would have to be stretched too far. (And Franklin, our greatest genius after Washington, had his traveling printing shows…)

    The rise of what we would recognize as a newspaper coincided with advertising and partisanship. Newspapers of importance were by definition big budget and big ads. In the 19th Century, in fact, newspapers not only launched presidential campaigns, they were probably the most necessary form of campaigning.

  • Not really. That was more a product of corporatization of newspapers. Newspapers have historically been low budget affairs sponsered by some ideologue. You can see this in the newspaper names themselves.

    I get that there were newspapers of a sort prior to the rise of the large circulation, advertising-driven newspapers, but I don’t think they adhere very much to what those worried about the death of The Press are worried about.

    After all, the small and plentiful micro newspapers of the 1700s and early 1800s are arguably much more akin to today’s blogs than today’s newspapers. If that sort of small, often one-man press with a lot of opinion and local color, and a little bit of news gleaned from travelers or (later) the telegraph news services, were considered an acceptable manifestation of The Press, people wouldn’t be ringing their hands about the prospect of the big city dailies going out of business.

    Actually, I’d argue that in many ways we’re going back to a more distributed, reader-driven form of “press” such as what we had from the 1700s through the early 1800s, with less (though certainly not an extinction) of the respectable, big city paper ethic while is familiar to us from the 50s through the present.

  • I’m not quite sure where we are going. With bifurcation in this country, I think it is going to increasingly be difficult to fund popular venues through advertising. The products the poor buy increasingly don’t have enough margin in them to try and influence market behavior through advertising. Real news information is increasingly going to be subscriber funded, like international news is with Jane’s and Stratfor.

  • I think this recent post by Matt Yglesias is a propos:

    “[J]ournalistic objectivity” as traditionally practiced by reporters at American newspapers and television stations is a business strategy as well as an ethos. The way it works is that when a market has only a small number of competitors (one or two daily newspapers in a given city, three television networks) the economic incentive is to try to be generic and inoffensive. Attracting passionate fans doesn’t really help you—even if you love the Indianapolis Star you’re not going to buy two copies a day.

    In a more competitive marketplace like the one highbrow magazines and UK newspapers have always operated in things look different. You need to differentiate your product, and it pays to develop an audience of passionate fans.

  • Marketing itself starts in about 1900s. Mass marketing got going in the 1920s.

    The earliest newspaper in my home town was founded in 1818, I believe. The second was founded in 1826. It was called, in the first instance, the Rochester Daily Advertiser. Every iteration of the title from 1826 to 1918 had the word ‘advertiser’ in it. I have examined in microtext issues from the 1860s. If I recall correctly, the front pages were filled not with articles or editorials (though there were plenty throughout the paper, in tiny print), but with ads.

  • Having ads is different from existing for the sake of delivering ads.

  • Anyway, when the progressive, humanist propaganda organs go bankrupt . . . Either, the Obaminstration regime will prop them up like it did GM and Chrysler . . .

    Or, you won’t read errata and fabrications supporting abortion, idiot supreme court nominees, gay marriage, hatred for tea party people, hatred for pro-lifers, America is evil, it’s Bush’s fault, etc.

    How will Big Brother brainwash the masses?

    Public schools!


  • Having ads is different from existing for the sake of delivering ads.

    This is a fair point, and perhaps this is where a difference in approach is putting as at odds more than a disagreement over the facts.

    Newspapers have generally achieved their income from two sources: subscription fees and ads. In their modern incarnation, daily papers have derived most of their income from ads — thus allowing them to maintain numbers or reporters and lengths of physical product which would not otherwise be affordable to most people.

    So when I say they exist as an ad delivery medium, I mean that were it not for advertising revenue, newspapers would find it very difficult to operate as they do while putting their product at a price that people could afford. Take the advertising away, and the newspaper medium becomes totally unsustainable in its current form. Readers may not buy it for the ads, and writers may not be interested in the ads, but the desires of the readers and writers wouldn’t be fullfillable if newspapers did not deliver ads.

  • That strikes me as pretty dead-on, BA.

  • Funny DC and BA. Chesterton made a similar observation about the character of journalism between the US and UK. He was surprised that all the competing papers in the US wanted to interview him and they all reported on the same stories. In the UK, exclusivity reigned supreme and if one paper landed an interview with someone, nobody else wanted anything to do with person.

  • A lot of newspapers have, or used to have, the words “Democrat”, “Republican”, “Independent”, and “Whig” in their names for a reason. When they were founded in the 19th century their political party affiliations were obvious and they made no pretense of objectivity. These affiliations or leanings often changed over time mainly due to the views of the publisher or family which owned the paper.

    Also, up until the last 20 or 30 years many newspapers were family owned (Hearst and Pulitzer were probably the most famous “press dynasties”). A newspaper’s character often depended on the character of the family or individual who published it. If he or she was conscientious and community-minded, you got a quality paper; if he or she was a rabid political partisan or only interested in sucking up to the powers that be in town, you got a rag. Now most papers belong to giant corporate conglomerates interested only in maximizing profits by (usually) cutting staff as much as possible.

Tim Tebow Pro-life Superbowl Ad

Sunday, February 7, AD 2010

Hattip to commenter restrainedradical.  One of the two Tebow pro-life Superbowl ads has leaked.  I can see why the pro-aborts fought tooth and nail to keep it off the air.  In tandem with the other Tebow pro-life SuperBowl ad,  it is devastating to them.  For background to the ads go here.  For the rest of the pro-life Tebow story, go to Focus on the Family here.

And here is the second ad:

Brilliant, absolutely brilliant.  The pro-aborts by their hysterical reaction made sure the Tebow story of how his Mom refused to abort him got broadcast over America for free.  Now these two anodyne ads featuring a loving Mom and son make the pro-aborts look like the intolerant bigots they truly are!

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12 Responses to Tim Tebow Pro-life Superbowl Ad

  • Why exactly is this prolife? This ad in isolation says nothing and probably will only confuse people. Is there another ad?

  • There is NOTHING particularly pro-life about these ads. We were scammed. They were NOT what they were represented by Focus on the Family to be. They were about promoting Tim Tebow and Focus on the Family and that was it. Nothing about choosing not to abort, nothing about choosing life.

    We were had.

  • The message is in the Focus on the Family tag: “Celebrate Family. Celebrate Life.”

    No wonder the pro-aborts want to censor this ad.

  • Zach and Bender the “ads” weren’t the message, they were just teasers to get you to go to the web site where the real message was conveyed in an interview. The link is at the end of the first paragraph above.

  • So what was demonstrated by this event in contemporary culture is that it takes precious little to send pro-aborts over the top in preserving abortion on demand. That their extreme views and actions can work against them in unforeseen ways. That Focus on the Family must have some serious monetary resources!

  • You’re right, the ads weren’t the message — Focus on the Family’s misrepresentation about the content of the ads was the message, and FF’s manipulation of the pro-life community for it’s own purposes has now become the issue.

    I defended the ad because they said it was a pro-life ad. It wasn’t. It was a Tebow and FF ad. And I don’t particularly like being used to end up promoting Tebow and FF, rather than defending life as we all thought we were doing.

    Fraud and dishonesty are not the way to promote anything, especially the pro-life cause.

  • NOW is now condemning the ad for advocating violence against women. No, I’m not making this up:

    NOW president Terry O’Neill said it glorified violence against women. “I am blown away at the celebration of the violence against women in it,” she said.


  • Let’s not overrect–as far as I know minimal information about the ad was given out beforehand by FF and much of the expected content was inferred by the opposition based on what was already known about the principals. While I wouln’t put it past Focus on the Family to engage in a little pro-abort leg-pulling, I’m hard pressed to discern a concerted effort to exploit pro-lifers. I believe most defenders of the ad acted spontaneously out of respect for the Tebows’ right to tell their stoy and weren’t goaded to it by FF. Anyway, FF succeeded magnificently. Weeks before the ad was aired, large numbers of people who had never before heard the story were suddenly aware of Tebow’s birth story. The ad itself was the most innocuous of teasers, exposing those pro-aborts who objected the loudest as the bigots they are. And the weblink at the end of the ad enabled anybody who hadn’t yet heard the Tebow family’s story to do so, if they wished. FF got its money’s worth several times over out of that thirty-second spot, and they did it in such a way that no reasonable opponent of their viewpoint could have protested.

  • Excuse me, that would be “overreact.”

  • “Violence against women?” Someone needs to tell that pro-abortion pseudofeminist that abortion is violence against women.

  • I’m just sayin’, there was nothing pro-life about these ads. Superbowl viewers were exposed to nothing pro-life. I don’t care about getting scammed (which I don’t think we did), I’m simply disappointed that nothing pro-life was said.

  • Preccisely, Zach. At the end of the day, there didn’t have to be anything pro-life about the ads. The pro-life part of the ads was all off-camera.

The Baby and the Quarterback

Wednesday, January 27, AD 2010

My ignorance of sports is vast.  However, I believe I now have a favorite quarterback.  Focus on the Family has paid for a 30 second ad during the Super Bowl featuring former University of Florida Quarterback Tim Tebow and his mother Pam.  When Pam was pregnant with Tim she contracted amoebic dysentery.  Harsh antibiotics were administered to her to rouse her from a coma.  She was counseled to have an abortion, being warned that her baby would be stillborn or live only a few hours.  She refused to have an abortion and Tim Tebow came into the world.

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6 Responses to The Baby and the Quarterback

  • Excellent point made about the hypocrisy of the “pro-choice” protests of the Tebow commercial. Meanwhile Obama’s war against the unborn continues with his re-nomination of Dawn Johnsen to run the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Dept. Check out link at American Thinker.

  • Before you favor him too much, read about his father’s missionary work to convert the pagan (Catholic) Filipinos. That said, her certainly does deserve praise for the unjustly criticized advertisement.

  • I sincerely hope that this ad would bring hope and healing to women and not the type of condemnation and ridicule that so many have cynically come to expect. That would be the kind of thing that could truly bring people together instead of politicizing this issue and dividing us further. Anything less would be a disappointment.

  • I disagree w/ you, Donald, on the notion that his monetary value will go down because of this ad. I think he may lose one or two potential endorsements in the future, but then again, he wouldn’t want to advertise for any product whose makers support abortion or similar issues. Moreover, I think it’s likely he may just become better known because of this ad, and in a good way, attracting more attention to any team he plays for or product he endorses. Then again, it’s football, and this whole flap may have absolutely zero effect on Tebow’s pocketbook either way.

    At the very least, airing the ad during the SuperBowl, the most watched American TV event every year, will at least raise awareness of the issue and spur discussions among friends and families.

    The pro-abortion groups and supporters are on the ropes in American society and they know it, so they continue to blubber and scream that CBS should censor this ad. Culture War Notes has up a video clip from MSNBC yesterday of the presidents of NOW and a pro-life organization debating the issue. It was extremely telling to me to watch the faces of the two women as they debated–the NOW president appeared to be so obviously angry, bitter, and unpleasant that she eventually realized that wouldn’t play well on camera. She tried to force a smile, but it looked like her face just wouldn’t allow her to smile. Tells us a lot about pro-abortion beliefs and proponents, doesn’t it?

    I’m a Florida alum, and Tebow is not only the finest college football player ever to play the game (OK, I’m biased, but just ask Bobby Bowden and Tony Dungy!), but more importantly, he’s a hero and awesome role model to millions of people for his beliefs and his life, as well as his talent. Even his football rivals praise him to the skies after they get to know him personally. GO GATORS!

  • I’ll give you that he is a better role model, but he is not a better college player than inVINCEable Young was.

    I’m glad he is doing the commercial – I don’t think it will affect him much financially one way or the other. The Ben & Jerry’s crowd isn’t brimming with sports fans.

  • Oh c matt, and here I was beginning to trust your judgment w/ your good taste in BBQ, then you have to go and compare Tebow and Young! Young was one of the greats, no doubt about it (and I don’t particularly like the Horns, despite living here in TX now, although I would have loved to have seen the Gators play them last January instead of overrated Oklahoma for the nat’l championship!), but Young would rank perhaps in the top 5 or 6 players of all time at the college level. In terms of leadership, heart for the game, and even overall physicality, I have to give the edge to Tebow here, and by a comfortable margin.

    Alas, not everything that comes out of Houston is logical, including c matt’s football preferences! ;-p

4 Responses to Guest Post: The Church, Advertising and the Junk We Don't Need

  • I am interested in commenting on this more extensively, but I have too much to get done today. For now, consider what Benedict wrote in Caritas Veritate:

    “A link has often been noted between claims to a “right to excess”, and even to transgression and vice, within affluent societies, and the lack of food, drinkable water, basic instruction and elementary health care in areas of the underdeveloped world and on the outskirts of large metropolitan centres. The link consists in this: individual rights, when detached from a framework of duties which grants them their full meaning, can run wild, leading to an escalation of demands which is effectively unlimited and indiscriminate.”

    I would argue that advertising often does exacerbate this situation.

    I would also note that, like practically every other economic phenomenon, advertising can be used for good. Ethics in Advertising makes that point and so does Benedict.

  • Today is a crazy day for me between work and the new encylical… I have a feeling the libertarian blogs are going to freak.

    I’ve only read the opening, but so far I have a ton of questions about Caritas in Veritate…

  • Interesting topic—great post. Thank you!

  • I am reminded of when anti-smoking ads were on t.v. From what I remember (cloudy at best) was that these ads helped _reduce_ smoking in the general population. But when government outlawed cigarette ads on t.v. they had to pull the anti-smoking ads as well. Of course, they are teaching that smoking is unhealthy at schools now, but I remember how clever those ads on t.v. were.

    What if government could make those “public service” ads regarding saving, looking for quality rather than buying “by name”, and other “ethical” ads combating the advertisements of cheap/unwholesome goods? Or perhaps consumer groups (like Consumer Reports, Nadar’s consumer protection agency?) could start an “ad branch” and make advertisements with similar goals.