Everyone who enjoys NFL football games knows they're going to be sitting through an avalanche of those awkward ads for erectile-dysfunction drugs, and ads soaked in sex and violence selling new movies or prime-time TV shows. Despite this barrage, the NFL has managed to show some standards, believe it or not.
They refused a Super Bowl commercial from the website AshleyMadison.com because of its unusual product, a dating service for married people who want to commit adultery -- or as they strangely describe it, they enable "married dating." Their slogan is "Life's short. Have an affair."
But this Home Wreckers Incorporated found a way around the NFL, such as airing local ads during the Super Bowl on NBC-affiliated KPRC in Houston. CEO Noel Biderman boasted in a press release that he ran his new female-targeted commercial because "In Texas, men love their football, and women love to cheat!" He also claimed Texas is his company's fastest growing market with over 200,000 members signed up in the last two years.
The commercial is blunt. A husband is cartoonishly ignoring and mistreating his wife at a restaurant on their anniversary. A female announcer says: "Have you ever found yourself on a really bad blind date? Now imagine that date lasting the rest of your life. Isn't it time for AshleyMadison.com?"
Despite the ad's message, this is not really an enterprise for unhappy wives. As a female San Francisco sex columnist reported as she tried out the website, Biderman "had told me when I interviewed him that a woman didn't even need a photo or any personal info in her profile to get 20 potential affair buddies arriving on her digital doorstep. I guess I should have believed him. Within minutes of logging in, I had a stream of instant messages from men in the Bay Area."
Ashley Madison's entire business model is shameless denial. Check out the Frequently Asked Questions page on their website. When they ask themselves if they encourage infidelity, they brazenly lie: "No, Ashley Madison does not encourage anyone to stray ... Providing a service like ours does not make someone more likely to stray any more than increasing the availability of glassware contributes to alcoholism."
This answer begins about an inch below their omnipresent slogan "Life's short, have an affair."
Three Texas chapters of the Parents Television Council and their 90,000 members lobbied TV stations in the state to refuse these scummy ads, arguing that broadcasters are granted a license in the public interest, and promoting adultery is not in the public interest. There are children watching, and it's not only the children who might object. There are millions of adults without young children in their house who are not OK with advertising for adultery enablers.
Biderman responded by making a TV ad mocking the PTC. They suggested a double standard because the PTC hadn't protested an ad by Activision, the makers of the video game "Guitar Hero," featuring sports stars who've recently landed in the headlines on steroids and marijuana offenses.
The commercial showed four star athletes playing rock stars with the video game, ripping off the Tom Cruise rocking-in-his-underwear scene from the movie "Risky Business." In their parody, as each star entered the commercial, Ashley Madison mocked them with balloons of copy: baseball star Alex Rodriguez ("Steroid User"), Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps ("Drug User"), basketball star Kobe Bryant ("Accused Rapist") and skateboarding legend Tony Hawk ("4 Kids, Three Different Wives"). There's something really odd when Ashley Madison, the marriage-trashing company, mocks Hawk for having three wives.
Then Ashley Madison imposed this text over the rock scene: "the PTC thinks we're corrupting kids ... at least we're not targeting them."
This outfit's defense is as shameless as its product is noxious. To suggest its product is acceptable because there exists another product or ad out there that is offensive is illogical, and they know it. Activision is selling a video game, not illicit sex. It's dishonest to suggest Ashley Madison ads don't "target" children. Yes, the customers they're trying to solicit are adults, but no one should believe their ads don't target children for suffering when adultery leads to domestic violence or divorce.
The PTC responded by warning all broadcast TV networks away from accepting Ashley Madison's advertising. Biderman and his foul-smelling agency are certainly not stupid enough to think youngsters in Texas weren't watching the Super Bowl. This was the most watched Super Bowl ever, at 151.6 million viewers across America. Anyone wanting to make a scandalous wave on Super Bowl Sunday is going out of their way to try to drench a lot of children.