For the Super Bowl, Two Ads Take Aim at Domestic Violence in the NFL

An ad on the side of a truck reads "55 unanswered cases of abuse. Goodell must go."

Anti-sexist activism group Ultraviolet is kicking off an ad blitz today that takes aim at the domestic abuse in the NFL.

In response to the NFL leadership not treating domestic violence as seriously as it treats drug violations, Ultraviolet is targeting NFL commissioner Roger Goodell with a giant billboard ad. The ad, seen above, is attached to four trucks that will drive around Phoenix this weekend during the Super Bowl. “Now is the time to remind people that Roger Goodell has ignored more than 55 cases of domestic violence during his tenure,” says UltraViolet co-founder Shaunna Thomas in a statement. The campaign also includes a new video ad that’s running all week on the websites for Sports Illustrated and Huffington Post Sports.

Meanwhile, the NFL created its own anti-domestic violence PSA that will be running during the first quarter of the Superbowl. The ad shows a woman who is calling 911 to report abuse, but pretends to be ordering a pizza so that she won’t tip off her abuser. The ad ends with the line, “When it’s hard to talk, it’s up to us to listen.” The Superbowl ad is a spot for No More, a five-year-old domestic violence coalition that has recently worked with NFL players (as well as other celebrities, like Amy Poehler) to produce chilling ad campaigns aimed at changing the conversation around domestic violence.  

The NFL is certainly aware that it needs to change its image. According to an Ultraviolet/Public Policy Polling survey of 548 female voters, 67 percent think the NFL could do more to discourage domestic violence.

While it brings attention to an important issue and makes domestic violence part of the national dialogue around the NFL this weekend, an ad campaign is not going to solve the NFL’s problem with domestic violence. Writer Jessica Luther has pointed out that the NFL would do well by hiring many more women to its ranks. She suggests that to retain its nonprofit status, the NFL should be required to implement a league-wide system to actually make sure that the list of preventive, proactive, and education-based measures in their new domestic violence and sexual assault policy are carried out by all 32 teams on a consistent and constant basis. And as Ultraviolet makes clear in its ads, change could start at the top. 

At least this weekend, between bites of guacamole and ads for beer, millions of Americans will get the message that domestic violence isn’t a private problem—it’s a national one.  

Related Reading: Examining the NFL’s Domestic Violence Problem. 

Sarah Mirk is Bitch Media’s online editor. You can follow her on Twitter. 

by Sarah Mirk
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Sarah Mirk is the former host of Bitch Media’s podcast Popaganda. She’s interested in gender, history, comics, and talking to strangers. You can follow her on Twitter

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