Actions Speak Louder Than Words: NFL Airs Superbowl Ad Against Domestic Abuse

Mohona Chowdhury '17 Contributing Writer

For most of America, one of the most entertaining parts of the Superbowl is the commercials. There are as many, if not more, statuses, tweets and general commotion over these special commercials than there are for the game itself. So, the content and messages of these ads make a statement about society itself.

This year, I noticed that many of the advertisements were centered on women. Always’ “Like a Girl,” Mindy Kaling’s Nationwide ad, Nissan’s and Dove’s commercials all centered around ideals that usually would not be seen during this testosterone driven event. I was surprised at the lack of “beer and girls” commercials on Sunday that I usually associate with the game. But, even though many people were commending companies for being so “progressive,” I felt like there was something crucial missing. It was that many of the ads seemed like facades. Though the premises of many of the commercials were great, the hollowness of the messages struck me the most. While the ads were “progressive,” which basically means most of them did not feature men drinking and women being seen as objects, they seemed like a grand PR move and a way to deflect attention. After watching the commercials, I realized the companies were trying to shift our attention away from their actions and toward their words.

One of the most talked-about commercials was the NFL sponsored “No More” ad on domestic violence. While the organization made a seemingly bold statement to make amends for the Ray Rice incident, we have to ask ourselves if the NFL really did make amends. A simple commercial cannot cover the fact that the organization’s policies barely changed in regard to domestic violence charges. A player who receives domestic violence charges will get a six-game suspension, plus or minus “mitigating factors.” But, there are players who are facing a lifetime ban for failing to pass a marijuana drug test. Their policy makes a larger statement on the priorities of the organization than one commercial will ever make. The organization’s actions speak louder than its words, and one commercial should not redirect our attention away from the reality of the situation. But, the NFL was not the only organization to make a hollow statement. Nissan and Dove both had great commercials showing the importance of fatherhood, but it is important to look at their paternity leave policies as well. As great as the Always commercial was, we should see how much the company invests in leadership programs for young girls.

In the end, it is wonderful that companies are using feminist ideals to sell products. It shows that Americans’ views are changing and what we want from our companies is shifting. But, that does not mean that companies are truly shifting their priorities. I think that we have come a long way from the beer-soaked ads that usually fill the Superbowl halftime, but we still have miles to go. Now, it’s time to follow these words with actions.