Fox Says No To Airing Pro-Life Super Bowl Ad
[guest post by Dana]
The ad is undeniably profound in its eloquent testimony to life, as told by abortion survivors:
Lyric Gillett, founder of Faces of Choice, accused Fox, which is broadcasting the game, of stringing her along after she began negotiating in July to air a powerful black-and-white ad featuring adults and children of different genders and ethnicities with one thing in common: they survived abortions.
“In an era where we’re trying to give survivors a voice, whether that is through the #MeToo movement or on any number of issues, for some reason we deem survivors of abortion worthy of being ignored into oblivion,” Ms. Gillett said. “That, to me, is both ironic but also just appalling.”
A Fox spokesperson said in an email that the network sold out its ad space early on for this year’s championship game in Miami between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers.
“Super Bowl LIV sold out at a record pace this year, and unfortunately we were unable to accommodate Faces of Choice and other advertisers,” the spokesperson said.
Gillet pushed back against it being a simple matter of ad space being sold out:
Ms. Gillett said there is more to the story. After providing storyboards and fielding questions about her organization, she said, she was told by the sales division that she would have a response from the legal department by a date in late November.
“Some individuals had apparently expressed that the sales division was not happy with the way the legal division was going in terms of not providing answers,” Ms. Gillett said. “So an executive flew up from New York and we were told Friday to expect an answer by Monday. Monday came along, we got no answer, and then found out that night that they were sold out.”
After that, she said, she asked Fox again to clear the ad in case other slots opened from cancellations for financial or content reasons. She said she was told in mid-December to expect an answer “very, very soon,” but the response never came.
“It feels like the reason for that is they don’t want to, I guess in their minds, give a story that we were rejected,” Ms. Gillett said. “I guess that’s the reason behind it. Nothing else makes sense. But again, that’s unprofessional, and I don’t think that’s how they operate with other clients.”
Her biggest frustration lies in what she described as Fox’s lack of responsiveness. She said she also reached out to the Academy Awards about running an ad, and an ABC executive got back to her the same day to tell her that the show has a policy against advocacy spots.
“Every time we would meet a stipulation or request, it would morph into something different. I would send an email saying, ‘What else do you need to get some type of answer?’ Even if it’s a ‘no,’ we don’t want a ‘no,’ but at least we can have an answer. We never got that answer,” Ms. Gillett said.
Note that there will be both advocacy and political ads aired during the Super Bowl, including an ad focusing on police shootings of black people, an Audi ad focusing on environmentalism, an ad featuring drag queens Kim Chi and Miz Cracker from “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” about which LGBTQ marketing strategist Bob Witeck said:
“For queer audiences, it is an art form and an ‘outsiders’ language,” Witek said of drag. “Reaching the Super Bowl means taking our language into every home in the nation and millions around the world.”
There will also be ads airing from Michael Bloomberg about gun violence, and President Trump promoting the achievements of his first term in office.
Ad Age confirmed that Fox Super Bowl ad units were sold out in November:
After network honcho Seth Winter spent the better part of the last few weeks warning would-be clients that the last of the Big Game inventory was about to run out, the executive VP of sales for Fox Sports sold the last available spot on Friday.
Not a single commercial unit is being held back for the stragglers who may have been iffy on their creative or were simply hoping to hold out for a better price. The early bird has a belly full of worm meat. Better luck next year.
“Because we didn’t want anyone to get caught out, we over-communicated to the marketplace that this was going at a pace we’d never seen before,” he says. “We’d spent weeks imploring them: ‘We are serious! We are going to sell out!’”
Winter says the fact that the in-game ad units in the 2020 Super Bowl have been picked clean before Thanksgiving is largely a testament to the strength of the national economy.
As a reminder, Gillett began negotiating with Fox about airing her group’s ad in July.
Oh. Now we are learning that Fox Super Bowl ad units were sold out until they weren’t:
Fox declared in November that it had sold all the advertising time available in its looming February 2 broadcast of Super Bowl LIV. But just this week, it found a little more.
After holding nearly two months’ worth of discussions, Fox and the National Football League have devised a way to add commercial inventory to an event that in most years limits the amount of advertising that can be shown. While Fox and the NFL had long planned this year to trim one ad break from each quarter of the 2020 game, the pair discovered demand from some key sponsors was so robust that it was hard to ignore…Fox has decided to create what executives call a “floating” commercial break that will allow for two 60-second ads from sponsors…Since the network announced its sell out… sales team has been deluged with requests not only from advertisers still hoping to get in on the game, but from sponsors who were able to buy time but want to grab more so they can run longer commercials…
To be clear: not all advocacy is created equal. Surviving an abortion is the very real definition of #ShePersisted (and #HePersisted), but as Gillett observed, “we deem survivors of abortion worthy of being ignored into oblivion.” The trend continues.
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)