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Nonprofit Takes the Field at Super Bowl

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Ben Jourdan

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.