On January 18th, ManCrunch, a gay dating service, submitted an ad to CBS with the intention of getting it aired in one of the highly coveted slots available during the Super Bowl.
The spot is 30 seconds and it shows two men on a sofa, watching a football game. After one of the two throws his hands in the air with a cheer for a touch down for his team, he turns to the other guy who is a fan of the opposing team and offers an in your face “you suck” gotchya moment to his teams loss. As they settle back down , their two hands are seen reaching into a bowl of chips and they touch. Next, you see the two men look at each other and suddenly embrace and make out. The scene widens a bit and a guy in a separate chair, next to the sofa, with a chip in his hand and a dropped jaw look on his face, stares at the two men kissing, in awe. (See ad below)
The ad is actually funny. The key to its humor is the surprise of it. From its start, you do not expect the commercial to go in this direction .
Is it inappropriate? I don’t think so but everyone’s tastes are different. Obviously.
The problem is that after the folks at ManCrunch initially checked on the status of the ad, they “claim” CBS told them that it was not yet deemed appropriate in accordance with network standards, but that “all the Super Bowl spots were sold out”, anyway. The people at ManCrunch asked that the ad continue through the approval process that was ready to air in the event that a sponsor pulls out and a slot for the commercial opens up.
Shortly after that , a CBS representative told Pop Tarts that advertising spots were still open.
This has led many at ManCrunch to believe that CBS is not even considering airing a commercial for their dating resource because it’s a “gay“ dating service. They claim that CBS does “not want to officially ‘reject’ the spot out of fear there may be a backlash from gay advocacy groups.”
To that, a CBS representative said “The ad is still under review, the process takes a little while.” “We still have a lot of ads we have yet to review.”
The episode could be an intentionally created controversy geared at getting some earned media. After all, ads that get rejected often get more attention than the ads that get aired. The controversial nature of a rejected advertisement immediately causes people to swarm to where else…………………you tube…………….where the ad winds up getting viewed by more people for more times than it would have after millions of dollars was spent to have it seen once, during the Super Bowl, when most people are in the bathroom relieving themselves.
So the promoters of ManCrunch played this well. They created a lot of doubt about CBS and their intentions. CBS simply made it easy for ManCrunch because they mishandled the situation. But now CBS finally put an end to the questions surrounding whether they approve of the ad or not.
CBS spokeswoman Shannon Jacobs announced;
“After reviewing the ad, which is entirely commercial in nature, our standards and practices department decided not to accept this particular spot,”
“We are always open to working with a client on alternative submissions.”
ManCrunch is claiming a double standard. They say that CBS runs ads for such things as Viagra during all times of the day and night and so they question the standards that CBS used to reject airing this commercial.
But Viagra commercials do not show couples passionately kissing. Other CBS commercials and programming do though. So what standard is the humorous ManCrunch ad not meeting? Is it not meeting a heterosexual standard? I for one do not know the answer to that question. Only the people in CBS‘ standards and practices department know. But to a degree I am not sure it matters. I have a problem with anyone forcing a private entity to air or censor anything that their service is broadcasting. CBS and all the other networks and cable stations refuse ads of all types, including advocacy commercials.
Last year NBC refused to allow a powerful anti-abortion ad from airing during the Super Bowl. This year, CBS itself has rejected another anti-abortion ad.
Of course there also is the fact that the airwaves any network use are regulated by the government. Because of that, there are certain standards they must abide by. They can’t have cursing, at least not until late in the evening and even then, it is not permitted on the network stations. But the government has yet told a network they can’t air ads for various groups. They merely deal with the content the ads contain regarding language, violence, sex, nudity and in some cases speech, as in hate speech. So like it or not, censorship does exist. But the ManCrunch advertisement is not violent, there is no hate speech or foul language and there is no nudity. Is CBS stating that kissing, in the manner that the two subjects in the ManCrunch commercial are kissing, is inappropriate? If so, why? They air sitcoms and dramas that at times offer such displays of affection. They air commercials where heterosexuals kiss. So why does this commercial not meet CBS’ standards?
The only real reason could be because the two individuals kissing, are men, and they are kissing each other, not two other women.
So the question now becomes, should the government force Viacom, a subsidiary of Westinghouse, to air the commercial for ManCrunch’s gay dating service? Or is Sumner Redstone, the owner of CBS and its parent companies of Westinghouse and Viacom, allowed to air what he wants, so long as it meets the standards of the Federal Communication Commission?
I tend to believe, it’s Sumner Redstone’s call. I don’t own the station. Neither do you and what CBS does as it relates to its success or failure is up to Sumner Redstone not us. We simply have the power and final say in determining whether what is aired or produced is successful or not. If we like it, it is. If we don‘t like it , it isn’t.
For me these commercials are much less of a concern than are the prevalent political biases that exist in the programming of the flagship of all networks…..their news divisions.
When Katie Couric or Chris Matthews or someone like Dan Rather, manipulates the news and interjects ever so subtle or not so subtle slants that lead viewers on, in my opinion, that’s when stations need to be called out. News, true news, is not suppose to have a bias. It is suppose to deliver the facts and let you decide. In the case of CBS, it used to be called the Tiffany Network mainly because of news bureau. The fine quality and reputation of its news division.
But, to say the least, standards in news bureaus have slipped After Dan Rather, the news division of CBS has distanced itself so far from fine quality that, today the Tiffany Network of yesterday has become the Dollar Store Network. So I for one am kind of glad to see the predicament that ManCrunch put CBS in. Now after rejecting to air an anti-abortion ad, CBS has offended conservatives, who they always offend with the liberal bias of their news, and the have now offended liberals by rejecting an ad because it featured gay men kissing.
It would seem that CBS is becoming an equal opportunity offender. That does at least help them achieve a fair and balanced standing in one area….offensiveness.
Depending on how gay activists handle this, CBS may just find “a backlash from gay advocacy groups”. They will surely be seeing a backlash from right-to-life groups. Though it will be interesting to see if the far left and the far right join forces and really hammer home the impression of CBS being the “Can‘t Be Seen” network..
Doubtful I know.
In the end, ManCrunch is the winner here. Their ad will get seen and highlighted as it is in this account, and it will have cost them near nothing as compared to a few million dollars. As for CBS, they will still make hundred of millions for all the ads that they do accept for the Super Bowl but their ratings may soon start to slip even more than they already are.
They say you can’t always please everyone. That is true, but for CBS, they are putting a new spin on that old saying as they increasingly become the station that is always not pleasing anyone.