Every year on the first Sunday of February, thousands of families across America gather in front of the TV to watch the Super Bowl, the National Football League’s championship game. As one of the country’s most popular, highly anticipated, and widely televised sporting events, companies and organizations aim to air their most memorable ads during the breaks between football coverage. Thus, many Americans look forward to watching the Super Bowl commercials as much as the game itself.
The pro-life movement has dabbled in Super Bowl advertising throughout the past decade. In 2010, an ad for Focus on the Family featured Pam Tebow sharing the story of how she had chosen life for her son Tim Tebow, who is now a two-time national football champion and then 2007 Heisman trophy winner. The ad garnered mixed reception; some news networks denounced its “force-feeding a political agenda”, while Focus on the Family received personal thanks from mothers who said it saved their child’s life.
This year, Huggies, M&M, and Toyota each aired commercials with notably pro-life themes. Last year in 2020, accusations arose against FOX for purportedly blocking pro-life ads, specifically one from Faces of Choice. While response to such commercials can vary depending on audiences, three different companies- not affiliated with the pro-life cause- incorporated this message into their commercials, which signals a positive development.
First, the Huggies commercial depicted a newborn child being welcomed into the world. A voiceover narrator then shows baby the ropes, while a montage of babies crawling, laughing, eating, and sleeping, surrounded by loving family members, plays in the background. The whole tone of the ad put value on life and family and implied the personhood of the infant by its introduction to membership in “a world of 8 billion people.”
Next, M&M’s commercial showed a couple regretting the use of a blue powder explosion to announce, “it’s a boy!” While this was just one short segment of the ad, any depiction of a baby-shower cannot help but assert pro-life themes, as such events testify to the humanity of the pre-born and present their lives as worthy of celebration.
Yet the most explicit pro-life message came from a Toyota ad telling the story of Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long. Born in Siberia with a rare condition that required amputation of both legs, Long was adopted as a baby by an American family. Now a Christian, the thirteen-time gold medalist shares her story to inspire people who are disabled to dream big and know their worth.
Long’s experience is a testament to the truth that disability- and vulnerability- do not diminish the value of a human life. Like the Toyota ad said, “there is hope and strength in all of us.” All of us deserve a fighting chance to discover it, including the unborn child in the womb. Hopefully, some of the 84 million people who streamed the Super Bowl this year were paying attention during commercial breaks. As seen in the testimony of mothers back in 2010, a pro-life message in an unexpected medium could be what saves a life.