The Super Bowl is just as much about ads as it is about football. But in the race to win the ad game last night, one PSA stood out from the pack, and stopped the competition and viewers in their tracks: a thirty second PSA about domestic violence.
The anti-domestic violence spot, titled “No more: Listen” was not only very chilling, but it was based on the contents of a real 911 call that was posted on Reddit. A user named Crux1836 posted the dialogue of the exchange, which at first appears to be a prank call to an emergency dispatcher.
The dispatcher then looked up the history of the address, and saw that there were multiple previous calls about domestic violence.
The national advertisement spot used that real incident verbatim. It’s a deeply scary exchange, and a reminder of just how hard it can be for victims of domestic violence to speak out. And exactly how important it is to listen.
It was a team effort between the National Football League, which donated the time for the spot and its internal ad agency, and the nonprofit organization No More, which raises public awareness of domestic violence. No More was launched in 2013 by a coalition of corporations in order to lend support to domestic violence and sexual assault services on both local and state levels.
Their partnership with the NFL comes in the wake of several high profile incidents of domestic violence involving players, and widespread criticism about their domestic abuse policies in general. Commissioner Roger Goodell was particularly under fire after the Ray Rice case, in which the Baltimore Ravens running back was caught on video knocking his then-fiancee unconscious in an elevator, causing Rice’s suspension.
While the commercial has received tons of praise, with the Washington Post calling it the “most powerful ad” of the night. Others remain skeptical. the Chicago Tribune’s Kavitha Davidson referred to the ad as a “‘missed opportunity’ of focusing on what happens after an attack has occurred rather than taking steps to prevent it.” She continues: “Indeed, anti-domestic violence and anti-sexual assault advocates constantly tout education and prevention over deterrence. It’s indicative of the overarching critique of the way the NFL has handled these cases — that the league has been reactive, not proactive, in addressing abuse.”
Still, the ad, as Slate noted, had the power to reach millions of viewers, and raise awareness about an issue, so closely tied to the NFL, that must not be ignored.