On 2/6/11 the Dallas Cowboys’ new stadium in Arlington, Texas will host the Super Bowl XLV, the most watched event in American sports, as the AFC and NFC go head-to-head for the right to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. The Super Bowl is one of the most widely watch games in television history. The broadcast ranks high in the Nielsen ratings reaching more nearly 90 million viewers. Prices for advertising space can typically cost millions of dollars; The commercials shown during the game are often talked about before and after the game, even more than the game itself. The commercials would often be hysterical, informative and sometimes controversial. Sometimes the commercials would change a person’s life like last year’s Snickers commercial featuring 88 year old character actress Betty White on the gridiron. No doubt that fun commercial helped raise her profile to a whole new generation and eventually a groundswell of support to get her a hosting gig on Saturday Night Live, which she did before the year was out.In the past couple years Doritos/Pepsi Max have held a “Crash the Superbowl” contest (CTSB), where people would submit clever commercials to be voted on by an internet audience narrowing the choice down to six for a final vote to see whose commercial would play during the Super Bowl and collect the million dollar price.
The final six were announced today, but conspicuously missing was a cleverly produced spot whose subject matter raised the ire of conservative Catholics & Catholic bloggers across the country.
Proving that religion and advertising are still a volatile mix (even in today’s permissive environment – Some of you may remember the 1989 Madonna Pepsi commercial featuring the song “Like A Prayer” that only aired once because of her controversial MTV video with the burning crosses); the submission, entitled “Feed Your Flock”, was rejected by contest judges who elected to steer clear of any controversy after receiving complaints from concerned Catholics who considered the ad offensive.
Actor Michael Lyons (a devout Catholic on left), who conceived the idea for the ad and portrays the pastor, and director Dave Williams (r) of Media Wave Video Productions (MWVP.com
), downplayed the negative response: “The initial feedback was overwhelmingly positive”, said Williams. “But unfortunately a small percentage of comments posted on the CTSB web site cried foul over the perceived mockery of communion. Those people misconstrued the content and intent of the ad”. Added Lyons, “the pastor prays for guidance on how to get people back to church and receives Divine direction to distribute free Doritos and Pepsi Max”. But because of its ambiguity, it can be taken both ways. Comments lifted from the CTSB site point out the disparity:
“As a Catholic, I found it to be lighthearted and humorous… I was not offended”.
“This is offensive to Christianity”.
“Could just as well be any of a number of protestant churches. Let’s hope Christians of all denominations haven’t lost their sense of humor.”
“I think God’s laughing along with this one…great concept and great execution”.
“Yes it’s well produced, but it’s offensive to those of us that hold the Holy Communion in esteem.”
Father Jeffrey Keyes, Pastor of St. Edward’s Church in Newark, CA and one of the most outspoken critics of the ad, posted the following on the CTSB site “the sleeping Catholic Giant is awakening” regarding his determined pledge to call for a boycott of Pepsi and Doritos products if the commercial was picked.
“We certainly did not set out to offend anyone “said Williams. “In fact, we purposely shot it in a non-denominational church, used no vestments or other religious symbols, and populated the lines with people from all faiths. And the sign on the lawn at the end of the spot serves as the punch line”.
My 75 year old Aunt Mary thought it was fun, and by no means was offended by it. Wondered where everyone’s sense of humor went, especially the people who always complain that the world is too PC these days.
Actor Randy Louis above.
Doritos and Pepsi Max executives have yet to comment, but even though it will never air over the commercial airwaves it the highest viewed video on the contest site.
What are your thoughts? Read the thoughts of others on the contest’s website here.
Here’s the behind the scenes video which was sent to me first and got me thinking this would be an interesting story to tell.