Super Bowl advertising standards are super confusing

By Katie Wolf

As a proponent of free speech ­— the cornerstone of my livelihood — I’m always really happy when people get to express their opinions and ideals, even if they don’t coincide with my own. Running the opinion section of The Oakland Post suits me well.

I also understand that in order to voice my opinion, I need to find a forum to convey my thoughts. Once again, The Post has its perks.

But if I were say, trying to buy advertising space in a publication or some other form of media, I know I might not be able to have complete freedom over what I want to say. I’m paying to use someone else’s means of distribution to put my ideas out to the world — if I don’t have a message they want to support, I don’t get to use their forum. Fair enough.

Let’s say I want to buy an ad during the Super Bowl. I know I have to comply with CBS network’s broadcast standards for Super Bowl Sunday. No nipples —  got it.

So what the hell are their standards?

To be frank, I don’t care about the Super Bowl. That “hallowed” day, for me, consists of eating way too much junk food and drinking too much beer.

This Super Bowl Sunday, I’m going to be getting heartburn from more than just what’s on the menu.

CBS is dealing with two “controversial” ads this time around. One features Pam Tebow, the mother of former Heisman trophy winner Tim Tebow. Paid for by a group called Focus on the Family, the 30-second spot talks about how during Mrs. Tebow’s pregnancy with the football player, she became severely ill. She was advised by doctors to abort the pregnancy. (I think we all know what she decided to do.)

I haven’t seen the ad, but from all accounts, it’s a heartwarming story of how Mrs. Tebow made the right decision based on her own her own moral code, and the product of her choice was her gift to the world of football. The controversy is that the advertisement is promoting a pro-life message, and abortion is a hot-button issue.

The other ad in question is paid for by a gay dating web site, It features two men, touching hands in the chip bowl, and proceeding to “make out.” If you watch closely, it doesn’t even look like their lips touch. The controversy is that the advertisement is promoting a gay lifestyle, which is another hot-button issue.

Which ad is CBS running, and which ad has been rejected? Yep, that’s right. Only one of these ads has been given the green light. The pro-life ad will be airing this Sunday, but the gay dating ad will not.

As reported on, “All the national networks, including CBS, have policies that rule out the broadcast of certain types of contentious advocacy ads.”

It seems to me that the Tebow ad is advocating just as much, if not more, than the ManCrunch ad.

CBS is starting to build a history of their own controversial decisions. In 2004 the network denied the United Church of Christ’s ad that focused on UCC’s openness toward the gay community and other groups who may be more comfortable in the friendly environment.

I’m concerned with CBS and how they decide on what constitutes “contentious.”

Also reported on was a quote from Tim Wildmon, the president of the American Family Association. Regarding the ManCrunch ad he said, “CBS should not put parents in the position of answering embarrassing and awkward questions from their children while they’re just trying to enjoy a football game.”

So let me get this straight: Two men kissing is way out of the realm of appropriate conversation topics during a football game, but a child asking, “Mommy, what’s an abortion?” is totally acceptable?

And let’s not forget how many half-naked women are featured every Super Bowl game. Now that’s family fun.

Gregg Doyel, columnist for, is against the Tebow ad: “If you’re a sports fan, and I am, that’s the holiest day of the year. It’s not a day to discuss abortion.”

Does CBS really think people are buying this load they’re trying to feed us? There is an agenda here.

I don’t care if CBS is conservative, liberal, socialist or communist. I don’t care if they want to push an agenda. It’s their network, and they can do as they see fit. But they simply cannot say that Super Bowl Sunday is a family event, and it’s a day to avoid contentious advertising, and then to make a move like they’re doing with the Tebow and ManCrunch ads.

Can’t we just watch the damn game?

Pass me a beer.