Bad news for all those football fans Al Michaels said would “love to forget” the “issues” surrounding the NFL during Sunday’s game: The Super Bowl will include a public service announcement featuring a woman calling 911 who pretends to order pizza while actually conveying to the dispatcher she is a victim of domestic violence and needs help ASAP. (See the PSA above.)
The NFL announced this morning it will air the PSA during the face-off between the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots, giving the news first to the Wall Street Journal which explained the league was battling the “perception” it does not take seriously the charges of abuse perpetrated by its players. The publication got the info via an exclusive Q&A with the NFL’s new-ish marketing chief Dawn Hudson.
The league, and commissioner Roger Goodell, were blasted in the press when former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice got a two-game suspension after footage emerged in March of him dragging his unconscious fiancée out of an Atlantic City elevator. That punishment was increased to an indefinite suspension when TMZ posted video, in September, from inside the elevator showing Rice actually knocking her out. Rice won an appeal to that suspension, though no team has signed him.
Like-minded PSAs ran in the recent playoffs which, Hudson assured, “haven’t gottten weird reactions.” And, the ad firm that created the spot said it was careful about the images it chose in presenting the somber subject, in deference to fans who want to party and watch ads with cute puppies, and funny gags, and uplifting moments. The agency will shield the viewing public from “egregious” signs of domestic violence — no broken windows or kitchen knives, WSJ promises. Super Bowl viewers will be subjected only to objects strewn across a rumpled living-room rug, a punched wall, and a family photo lying next to the trash.
The league, meanwhile, says the PSA is not intended to help its brand, because if it was, she would have “slapped” the NFL logo on the PSA. “This is us trying to do the right thing,” said Hudson, who the publication reported last September had been hired by the NFL to “help repair the league’s image” after it took a “big hit” from a string of incidents including the Rice case and a child-abuse case involving Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson.
At a news conference last month held by Super Bowl broadcaster NBC at Winter TV Press Tour 2015, play-by-play announcer Michaels said the NFL would “love to forget” this football season, in re press coverage of players’ behavior. Michaels acknowledged NBC has a “responsibility” to address “issues,” such as Ray Rice clocking his fiancée, but “we don’t belabor.” His coordinating producer Fred Gaudelli elaborated: “While you have that responsibility … you don’t want it to intrude too much on the game,” he said. Football fans compartmentalize, Michaels explained. “They know what’s going on…They know there’s a lot of insidious stuff, but you get to the weekend and fans said this year, ‘I want my football.’ ”