Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Analysis of the Tebow Super Bowl ad

Below is an excerpt of the Barna Group's reasearch on the Tebow Super Bowl ad and an analysis of what impact the ad had in terms of Focus on the Family's stated goals.

What the study does not address is what impact did the ad have in raising or lowering the public's perception of Tim Tebow, or even Pam Tebow, and did it raise or lower Tim's Q score?

Pre-Bowl Attention
Leading up to the National Football League’s championship game the Focus-Tebow commercial garnered significant media coverage and controversy. Many observers noted that this was the first time a television network had accepted a commercial with political or issue-oriented content during a Super Bowl. The Barna research confirmed that the pre-event media coverage of the Focus-Tebow commercial was a factor in many viewers’ minds: nearly two out of every three viewers of the ad (62%) said they were aware of the pre-game controversy connected to the commercial.

While millions of Americans watched the commercial, many viewers expressed confusion regarding the commercial’s meaning and sponsor. In fact, when asked to describe what they thought the main message to be, one-fifth of viewers (20%) were not able to venture a guess about the ad’s main message. A minority of ad viewers described it as anti-abortion (38%) although the commercial never used that term or discussed that procedure. Another 19% thought it was about being pro-family or expressing that family is important.

Further reflecting the confusion on the part of many viewers, alternative interpretations of the commercial included: reminding people that miracles happen and Tim Tebow was a miracle baby (9%); stressing the importance of the parent-child relationship (5%); asking people to visit the sponsor’s website (2%); or helping people think about healthcare issues (1%). In addition, another 7% identified some other type of primary message.

The sponsor of the commercial was also a mystery to most viewers. Just 14% of those who viewed the commercial accurately identified Focus on the Family as the organization behind the advertisement. In total, 6% mentioned some other organization or group, while 3% identified the name of the campaign, Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life. Most viewers (78%) admitted they were not sure who sponsored the spot featuring the Heisman-winning Tebow.

Still, if there is an upside to the ad’s fuzziness, perhaps it is that most people found it non-threatening and upbeat. The Barna survey explored five different opinions of the commercial. Nearly four out of every five viewers of the ad (78%) said they felt the commercial presented a positive message to viewers and three out of every four (75%) claimed that the commercial was appropriate to show during the Super Bowl. That statistic seems to support CBS’s decision to air the spot despite pressure from many pro-choice advocacy groups to reject the commercial.

Half said they thought the Focus-Tebow commercial was intended to influence their views on abortion (51%), a reflection of the pre-game controversy over the expected content more than a reaction to the message that viewers of the spot actually took away after watching it. Small proportions of viewers of the ad claimed that the commercial was offensive (8%) or that the commercial personally caused them to reconsider their opinion about abortion (6%).

Surprisingly, whether a person is pro-life or pro-choice made only minimal difference in their reactions to the commercial. The only striking differential between the two groups was that 82% of those in the pro-life group felt it was appropriate for the Super Bowl, compared with just 66% among those who believe abortion should be legal in most or all cases. Despite this gap, among those who favor pro-choice policies the commercial was received favorably: three-quarters said it presented a positive message to viewers (78%), two-thirds felt it was appropriate (66%), and just one-tenth felt it was offensive (10%). While most pro-choice adults claimed to understand that it was intended to influence their views on abortion (57%), just 4% of this segment said it caused them to reconsider their opinions about abortion.

Full Barna report here.

Photo: Gainesville Sun

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