This past Sunday, 111.3 million people tuned into watch the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers battle it out for football supremacy. The viewers also engaged in another growing sport: watching and judging Super Bowl commercials.
This year, to get a 30-second ad on CBS during the big game cost you a cool $4 million, $500,000 more than last year. Companies that can afford it see the event as, well, the Super Bowl of advertising and believe the dollars are well spent.
Reaching the football-loving public was an opportunity that the Gleason Initiative Foundation, a 501(c)3 , deemed valuable. The Foundation’s mission involves helping those with neuromuscular diseases or injuries access services, and raising awareness of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in hopes of finding a cure. So, while the charity, like most nonprofits, could not afford the cost of a TV ad, it aimed for second best.
Just before kickoff, the Jumbotron at midfield in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome displayed an unusual ad for such an occasion. Rather than the standard beer or truck commercial, a PSA for the Gleason Initiative Foundation played in front of the 72,000+ crowd. It told the story of ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, with high profile NFL players. And it included Steve Gleason, a former New Orleans Saints player afflicted with the disease who established the foundation.
The Foundation’s website notes:
“This video is a message from these elite players, among the best and strongest in the world, to all the victims of this horrific disease to say: We're all in this together. And it's an invitation to the rest of the world to join the fight, and put all of our heads together to find a cure for ALS.”
The ad is a feat for the nonprofit sector. As the Nonprofit Quarterly states, “for nonprofits working to raise the profile of the fight against ALS—or for any nonprofit, for that matter—a PSA on the Jumbotron at the Super Bowl is an awareness-builder on a scale that most can only dream of.”