Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Super Bowl XLVIII: The ad you didn’t get to see

IT’S THE ritual within the ritual: Every Super Bowl, we’re witness to the latest parade of ads meant to move us to laugh, cry and feel, but mostly to buy the products promoted made by the companies that paid the millions of dollars to get the ads on the air.

This year was no different. Super Bowl XLVIII brought us the Go Daddy ad with Danica Patrick in a musclebound body suit; the obligatory Budweiser ad starring the Clydesdales in 60 seconds of unalloyed Americana; a Coca-Cola ad that revisited the “I’d like the teach the world to sing” theme, but with a demographic twist that suits life in today’s United States; and Bob Dylan in a Chrysler ad that trumpets the virtues of the American car on the American road. Much of the usual fare we expect from companies that can afford the $4 million it cost for a 30-second ad during the game.

But before this year’s Super Bowl ad orgy fades from the immediate memory, a mention is due about the one that got away, the one you missed, the one that speaks to the national character more than any other that day.

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The National Congress of American Indians produced a profoundly compelling 2-minute ad meant to address the ongoing dispute between the indigenous American community and Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington National Football League team, over the team’s longstanding obscenity of a name, the Washington Redskins.

Unfortunately, the group didn’t have the $16 million it would have cost to get the ad on the Fox network for Sunday’s game (assuming, of course, the network had the courage to run the ad in the first place). It remains a powerful, evocative indictment of Snyder’s intransigence on the issue.

Snyder has repeatedly refused to change the name of the team. In December, the team released a statement pushing back against the team name detractors: “[W]e strongly disagree based on what we are hearing from Native Americans and based on the generations of pride and heritage that our name represents."

In a classic case of the blind leading the blind — one image-deficient organization enlisted to help out another — the Washington team has reached out to Republican consultants for advice on navigating the team name controversy, ThinkProgress reported on Jan. 31.

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EMAILS OBTAINED by ThinkProgress show that “the team consulted Republican messaging guru Frank Luntz, former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, and former Republican governor and senator George Allen,” Travis Waldron reported.

The issue has clearly been in Snyder’s in-box, even if he’s ignored it. The new protest ad can be expected to ratchet up the pressure.

It’s on the Films for Action website, and on You Tube. And the Change the Mascot website offers people a chance to contact Snyder, the team owner, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell — by Twitter and by phone.

All in all, an opportunity to be moved by the only Super Bowl ad that mattered, the ad you didn’t get to see on Sunday, for all the wrong reasons.

Image credits: Indian woman, NCAI logo: © 2014 National Congress of American Indians. Snyder: Associated Press. Thanks to my man James Ainsworth for the tip on this one.

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