Can you spot the church-related Superbowl ads?

February 6, 2010



Superbowl party

Photo by kakisky (license)

I’m a geek, not a jock. I do enjoy watching a good game of football — maybe once a year — so I usually take part in the American pastime of watching the Superbowl. But since I am more keen on media & culture than sport, I am actually more interested in America’s other pastime: watching the creative Superbowl ads.

I will actually miss the first part of the game because I owe my youngest daughter a date (and she’d rather watch a movie than the Superbowl). But there are three church-related ads I’m curious to see and hope I don’t miss:

In the end, I missed all three church-related ads because I was out having a date with my youngest daughter. We did make it back to see The Who (!) playing the halftime show, and the second half of the game was quite exciting. But here’s a roundup of the three ads I wrote about (“Can you spot the church related Superbowl ads?“:

1. Focus on the Family ad

Kay’s reaction: “Huh? What’s this about? What’s it for?”
My reaction: They paid $2 million for this? Lame-o.

2. Dorito’s “Funeral” (a.k.a. “Casket”)

Kay’s reaction: “It was great!”
My reaction: Terrific job by folks at Mosaic.

3. Budweiser “Human Bridge”

Kay’s reaction: She liked the ad, but had no idea that the last three seconds were filmed at my friend’s bar / “third space” mission outpost. She was impressed when I told her.
My reaction: Way to go, Garman’s Pub!

What was your reaction to these commercials? What do you think of the stories behind them?

Superbowl party

Photo by kakisky (license)

I’m a geek, not a jock. I do enjoy watching a good game of football — maybe once a year — so I usually take part in the American pastime of watching the Superbowl. But since I am more keen on media & culture than sport, I am actually more interested in America’s other pastime: watching the creative Superbowl ads.

I will actually miss the first part of the game because I owe my youngest daughter a date (and she’d rather watch a movie than the Superbowl). But there are three church-related ads I’m curious to see and hope I don’t miss:

  1. The infamous pro-life ad. I don’t even know who Tim Tebow is, but the ad has raised quite a fuss over “issue-based advertising.” (My guess is that the TV network relaxed their stand against issue-based ads simply because they need the money.) Pro-choice groups are in an uproar. I think it’s calling their bluff on their name, and asking whether they are truly for choice. (Don’t get me wrong: I also want to see pro-life called out for their name.) Will the ad make me nod my head, or make me cringe?
  2. The Dorito’s ad contest entry that is set in a funeral. This ad was submitted by folks at Mosaic, a faith community in L.A. I got to hear their lead pastor Erwin McManus at the first of the Soliton Sessions in 2003 and was struck at the way he seemed both visionary and grounded. Those qualities can be seen in his answer to an AP reporter’s question, “What is the subliminal message of the commercial?” The sad assumption (which is so often true) is that anything a church does has a hidden agenda. Erwin’s answer: “Eat Doritos.
  3. A Budweiser ad that takes place in a bar. There’s nothing unusual about that, of course. But the story underneath is that it was filmed at Garman’s, a pub in SoCal. I met Clint Garman through his involvement in the Soliton Sessions, and he’s gone on to create a this pub as a missional third place. Way to go, Clint!

So there you have it: three very different ads. People will (for better or worse) identify the first as connected to the Christian church. The second and third, less so — or not at all — so I wanted to get the word out.

Update: I missed them, but here they are.



Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

2 responses to Can you spot the church-related Superbowl ads?

  1. I thought the Tebow ad was tasteful in that rather than trying to offend pro-choicers, it invited those who are looking for help ,and an alternative to Planned Parenthood’s “family planning”, to look into Focus on the Family.

  2. Wendy, I was relieved to see that the Tebow ad was not “in your face.” I was puzzled, though, at what the message was. I suppose the goal was not to convey much in the ad itself, but to get people to visit the Focus website. In that, their site visits did jump up.