The Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers will face off this Sunday in Super Bowl XLV. But, there’s an off-field battle brewing. Of American adults who are planning to watch the big game this year, will they be tuning in for the game or for the ads? According to this national Marist Poll, the battle for the Lombardi trophy reigns supreme. 74% say they watch the Super Bowl more for the game while 26% tune in more for the commercials.
Little has changed since last year. In Marist’s February 2010 survey, 78% reported they watched more for the game while 22% said they wanted to check out the commercials.
There currently is a gender gap. 84% of men are more into the game itself rather than the ads. This compares with 63% of women.
Peggy Wehmeyer was the national religion correspondent for ABC-TV. She spoke with the Marist Poll’s John Sparks on possible effects of the Tim Tebow/Focus on the Family Super Bowl Commercial.
Peggy, while there’ve been television commercials aired by Pro-Life groups in the past, there hasn’t really been such a precedent to air one during a national broadcast that would attract 90-million viewers like the Super Bowl. With CBS’ decision to accept the ad, do you think that we might see more of this sort of ad placement in the future?
Listen to the interview:
I think unless CBS changes its position after this based on the outcry to the ad that they’re getting, sure, I would expect we’ll see more of these kinds of ads in the future. I mean, look at all the publicity it’s getting, which might actually be good for CBS. If anyone who had forgotten over the last few years who Focus on the Family was, they’re now back on the radar screen, and I would imagine their donations will even go up as a result of this, so I would think so.
What would you say the pros and cons are for Focus on the Family about running such an ad?
You know, I think the pros will be, as I mentioned, that it puts them back on the radar screen. They’re an activist organization. They want this kind of attention especially on social issues like abortion. So for the people who have supported Focus on the Family in the past, this is going to be evidence that “Oh, they’re still doing some — they’re still stirring up the waters. They’re still doing what we used to support them for doing,” and it might actually engender more dedication to this group. My guess is, and I’m not certain, but there’s probably — they have less support than they used to, so maybe this will be a good thing from their point of view. On the other hand, it will make their so-called enemies of the people who have never liked what Focus on the Family stands for. It will probably harden their positions against them, but that might actually help Focus on the Family also because that’s part of how they fundraise.
So do you think that they run the risk of drawing more negative attention than positive on this thing?
You know, I think Focus on the Family would hope to use Tim Tebow’s celebrity status to sway people who might be in the middle on the abortion issue, and I think that’s where most people are. So from Focus on the Family’s perspective, I think for them it might be a positive thing. Politically, it puts them in the position from the less point of view, at least, of being troublemakers.
Do you think that there is some yardstick measure that they might use to determine if the Tebow ad is successful?
You know, I think it’s very hard to measure whether this ad is successful if it runs. And I guess it depends on how you define success. Did you define it by saying, “Did it stop women from getting abortions?” Perhaps you could do some kind of scientific poll with those who saw the ad and ask them whether it changed their views on abortion. I doubt actually it will. Most likely, I would expect it to strengthen people’s support of groups like Focus on the Family who sponsored the ad or create an even greater backlash against these kinds of groups. You could measure … one way you could measure is whether donations to Focus on the Family, which sponsored the ad, are up or maybe donations to Pro-Life groups went up. I mean you could look at that, I suppose.
I’ve heard a report that suggests that more viewers of the Super Bowl over the years remember the ads than they do even the teams or the scores of a particular Super Bowl. If that’s indeed true, what kind of impact do you think the Tebow ad might have for Focus on the Family and the Pro-Life movement?
Well, it’s really hard to pinpoint what the impact of this ad will be. Sure there’s a chance. There’s a chance it might make a young pregnant girl think about having an abortion. It might make her change her mind about an abortion. It will make Pro-Choice people even more adamant that they get their message out. It might really ramp up the whole abortion debate. Mostly I think the Tim Tebow ad will fuel, unfortunately, the culture war battle lines over abortion. But you know these things don’t last for long because they die down after awhile, so I don’t anticipate that it will have any real long-term impact.
So do you think with CBS accepting the ad that NARAL and other groups might seek to buy time in next year’s Super Bowl or the World Series or the Final Four?
Sure. I think women’s groups and other liberal groups will shout and protest about this airing of the ad; and if they don’t win their campaign to stop it from getting on CBS and CBS airs it anyway, it wouldn’t really surprise me if they take the tact: Well if you can’t beat them, join them, and then we’ll have dueling ads. But I doubt CBS is going to let that or any other network would let that get out of hand.
Speaking of getting out of hand, if we could envision commercial breaks at national sporting events becoming cluttered with advocacy ads, do you think that the networks might reverse this position? CBS kind of put it out there in accepting this ad. It’s kind of a first for a national ad buy like this.
You know, I think CBS and the networks have control over their advertising space. There are too many other advertisers who are not advocating social issues that are clamoring for air time. I doubt commercial breaks will be cluttered with advocacy ads. The public would hate it, and it wouldn’t help the network, and the network will always do what is in its best interest.
With just days until Super Bowl Sunday, many Americans are gearing up for the big game, but they’re also sending a message to sportscasters, “Stop using annoying phrases!”
“I’m sure the CBS Sports team will do an excellent job of announcing the game, but they might dodge a few eye rolls if they avoid these commonly used phrases,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist Institute for Public Opinion.
Which cliché do Super Bowl watchers think is the most irritating? “It’s too bad somebody has to lose” tops the list with 36%. 20% cringe when they hear, “They’ll have to treat this just like any other game.” ”That’s a costly turnover” follows closely with 18%. And, rounding out the top five are, “It all depends on where they spot the ball,” with 14% and “He’d like to have that one back” with 12%.
Will most Americans be keeping an ear out for phrases like these on Sunday? There’s a good chance. 69% say they plan on watching at least some of the big game. This includes 37% who say they are going to tune in for all of the game, 8% who report they will watch most of it, and 24% who will tune in for some of it. 31% have other plans and aren’t going to watch.
Super Bowl Sunday may be months away, but that doesn’t mean football fans don’t have their fair share of early predictions. But, is one team the runaway favorite?
13% of football fans think Brett Favre will lead the Minnesota Vikings to victory while 10% say Peyton Manning and the Colts will be the last team standing in February. Younger brother, Eli Manning, and the Giants are the pick of 9% of football fans. An additional 9% of armchair quarterbacks expect Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers to repeat. 8% think Tom Brady and the New England Patriots will reign supreme.
But, do Americans suffer from football fever? There’s little question that about one-fifth do. 21% of the population report they follow professional football a great deal. 17% profess to watching professional football a good amount while 28% watch it a little. 34% report they don’t watch the sport at all.