Super Bowl madness obscured commercial's powerful message

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NO MORE, an anti-domestic violence coalition, created a chilling, 30-second commercial that aired during the 2015 Super Bowl in partnership with Grey Group, a global advertising agency. The commercial featured panning shots of a home physically upturned by domestic violence, accompanied by an audio recording of a female victim calling 9-1-1. The female victim, unable to tell the 9-1-1 respondent directly about her attacker, who is still in the room, asks the respondent for a pizza. The respondent is able to discern that she is in danger. The commercial ends with text across the screen reading, “When it is hard to talk, it is up to us to listen.”

Three Occidental students created an anti-domestic violence campaign titled Our Game Face: On that reached NFL Chief Marketing Officer Dawn Hudson and served as inspiration for the NO MORE commercial. The campaign, started by Lizbet Macias (senior), Amanda Magistad (junior) and Jennifer Miller (senior), consisted of a petition and accompanying video on Change.org, demanding the NFL air an ad during the Super Bowl publicly denouncing domestic violence within their organization and beyond.

However, the NFL did not meet the demands listed in the petition that the Occidental students created, nor did it meet my expectations.

In their petition, Macias, Magistad and Miller specifically stated, “We ask you, the NFL, to take time during the upcoming 2015 Super Bowl condemning all violent abuse, and launch a campaign that demonstrates your support for the survivors and that condemns violence against women and children.” The commercial, though moving, did not establish the NFL’s specific rejection of domestic violence and support of the NO MORE campaign.

The commercial was horrifyingly real, giving the viewer a sense of the vulnerability of domestic violence victims. Despite being powerful, it likely went unnoticed by most of the approximately 184 million viewers in the scheme of the drunken, excessive chaos that is Super Bowl Sunday, upstaged by commercials more lighthearted and farcical in nature. And this is a problem.

In competing side-by-side with such commercials, the NO MORE advertisement did not reach its full potential given its understated visuals and subtle audio. The majority of Super Bowl viewers are in hectic spaces, detracting from the effectiveness of the commercial. According to U.S. News & World Report, 43 million viewers host parties, while 13 million viewers watch from a bar or pub.

Furthermore, the commercial had no official NFL branding to establish an affiliation with the league. NFL branding would have given the advertisement the recognizability that many Super Bowl viewers seek as they passively observe the game and commercials.

Just months before the Super Bowl, following criticism regarding punishment for players convicted of domestic violence, Commissioner of the National Football League Roger Goodell publicly committed the league to using the NFL brand as a means of combatting domestic violence.

“…These incidents [of domestic violence] demonstrate that we can use the NFL to help create change. Not only in our league, but in society with respect to domestic violence and sexual assault,” Goodell said.

Despite this public declaration, the NFL name was not attached to the anti-domestic-violence commercial. Goodell and the entirety of the NFL need to turn their fleeting words into action and to attach their name and brand to anti-domestic-violence PSAs.

There is a power in the NFL brand, a power to sell. According to U.S. News and World Report, viewers spent $14.31 billion on Super Bowl-related products. The NFL sells tickets, jerseys, and souvenirs, and for a change, the league should use their selling power to sell the pressing need to end domestic violence.

Nina Greenebaum is a senior Diplomacy and World Affairs major. She can be reached at greenebaum@oxy.edu or on Twitter @WklyNGreenebaum.