CBS is taking a Bret Favre-like beating for its handling of ad sales for the Super Bowl.
On the heels of the controversial decision to accept an apparent pro-life ad featuring University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, CBS is taking heat for its decision to not accept an ad from a male dating Web site called ManCrunch.com.
The 30-second spot – which ManCrunch says it submitted to CBS on January 18 — shows two men groping each other. A representative for the site said CBS had informed them that "all the Super Bowl spots were sold out.” The dating site had requested the ad be reviewed “in case another advertiser drops out.”
On Friday, CBS officially rejected the ad, saying the "creative is not within the network’s broadcast standards for Super Bowl Sunday."
“If it were a heterosexual couple or even two women, it probably would have gotten approved,” Elissa Buchter, a spokeswoman for ManCrunch, told CNBC.
"After reviewing the ad – which is entirely commercial in nature – our Standards & Practices department decided not to accept this particular spot," CBS said in a statement. "As always, we are open to working with the client on alternative submissions."
Of course, this entire episode is providing ManCrunch with free publicity, whether or not the ad runs on Super Sunday.
ManCrunch denies it’s a stunt, although there is some question as to whether the site even had the money to pay for the spot. (The site claims it spent more than $100,000 to produce the ad and has raised some $40 million from investors.)
The cost of airing a 30-second spot during the Feb. 7 Super Bowl is about $2.5 million.
The Eye drew the ire of women’s groups earlier in the week for taking the Tebow ad, which was paid for by Focus on the Family, a Christian group. According to reports, that 30-second ad recounts how Tebow’s mother rejected advice from doctors to abort her son.
The Women’s Media Center launched a campaign, calling on CBS to immediately pull the ad. The group says its supporters have sent more than 120,000 letters to CBS and the NFL demanding that the ad be pulled from the Super Bowl broadcast.
CBS, for its part, said its policy of not accepting Super Bowl ads from advocacy groups has shifted in recent years.
“Focus on the Family is using the Super Bowl to fool Americans into believing that their agenda is not controversial when it actually is,” Jehmu Greene, WMC president, said on “Fox & Friends” this week. “This organization has supported fake crisis pregnancy centers that provide medical misinformation, they provide negative pregnancy testing, fake ultrasounds. They say they’re about family, but only if it’s their style of family. They say they’re about faith, but only if it’s their style of faith.”
It’s not just advocacy groups who are miffed with CBS. Go Daddy Inc. said one of its Super Bowl ads was rejected by the network because it "had the potential to offend a significant number of people."
The spot, narrated by Indy racing star Danica Patrick, features a character named "Lola," an ex-football player who is "big, flamboyant, effeminate, lovable man.”
“It’s the first time for me I’ve been baffled,” Go Daddy CEO Bob Parsons told the Phoenix Business Journal. “Usually we may get an ad rejected and we’ll understand. We may not agree, but we understand.”