Last night, millions of Americans and people around the world gathered to watch the Super Bowl XLIX (that’s 49 for all you non-ancient Romans out there). Through the years, the Super Bowl has evolved into much more than a football game. Whether you have an annual Super Bowl party at your home every year complete with appetizers galore, or you prefer to go bar hopping with your friends, the Super Bowl has turned itself into a holiday. And that holiday would be incomplete without its famous commercials.
Usually, Super Bowl commercials are over-the-top and grand, featuring celebrities or other public figures. Some are recurring every year, like the Budweiser Clydesdales commercial. This year, however, the NFL’s “No More” campaign produced its own public service announcement to air during the Super Bowl with a much more somber tone.
The “No More” campaign’s goal, according to its website, is “to raise public awareness and engage bystanders around ending domestic abuse and sexual assault.” It released another series of PSAs earlier this year featuring former and current NFL players, who spoke about the need to hold all men accountable for domestic and sexual abuse.
This PSA, however, features no star athletes or recognizable faces.
The minute-long video starts out simple. A camera flashes through a home where things seem to be awry. Carpets are bent, candlesticks have fallen and dirty dishes sit piled in a sink. The only audio heard is a phone recording. An emergency 911 operator is on one end, while a woman’s voice is on the other. When asked about her emergency, the woman begins ordering a pizza. Confused at first, the 911 operator soon realizes that the woman cannot openly report the emergency because the cause of that emergency is in the room with her. The operator sends an officer and asks if the woman can stay on the phone with him. She quickly replies no and hangs up as the PSA ends.
There’s no doubt the message is powerful, but its implications are even more powerful.
The NFL has been caught up in countless controversies over the past year. Most notably, the Ray Rice scandal, where the former Baltimore Ravens player was seen assaulting his wife on an elevator security camera video in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Many criticized the NFL for its reaction to the scandal, asserting that such issues were not taken seriously enough in the NFL.
This PSA then, besides spreading an important message, is also probably a way for the NFL to assure its viewers (especially its female ones) that it is on their side. After all, in the past, reports have stated that domestic abuse rates tend to increase on Super Bowl Sunday and during other sporting events like the World Cup.
It may seem a bit self-serving, and perhaps a little phony after seeing how the NFL handled the Ray Rice incident. However, whatever the NFL’s motive is, the PSA successfully illuminates the presence of domestic abuse. Right now, when about 1 in 4 women will be affected in her lifetime, this is more important than ever.