In-between the bone-crushing tackles and beer ads at the Super Bowl this year, the NFL will air its first anti-domestic violence PSA.
The piece begins with several lingering shots of rooms in a house where things are just askew. An unmade bed. Books on the floor. A fist-sized crack in the wall.
We hear the audio of a woman calling 911 and trying to order a pizza. At first it sounds like a prank, or someone who is really not paying attention. Gradually we and the 911 operator begin to understand that the she's speaking in code so that her abuser can't tell that she's calling the cops.
“I’d like to order a pizza for delivery.”“Ma’am, you’ve reached 911. This is an emergency line.”“Yeah, a large with half pepperoni, half mushrooms.”“Um, you know you’ve called 911? This is an emergency line.”“Do you know how long it will be?”“OK, ma’am, is everything OK over there? Do you have an emergency or not?”“Yes”“...and you’re unable to talk because?”“Right, right.”“Is there someone in the room with you? Just say 'yes' or 'no.'”“Yes.”
Eventually the operator gets the gist and dispatches an officer her way.
"When it's hard to talk, it's up to us to listen," says the on-screen text at the end. "Help end domestic violence and sexual assault." It then directs viewers to pledge at nomore.org, an umbrella anti-domestic violence organization the NFL has partnered with on a series of domestic violence spots.
The NFL has aired PSAs before, recently about the Wounded Warriors project and LGBT issues, but this year's comes on the heels of a couple of bruising domestic violence scandals involving its players.
"An intervention of this kind was always in the cards this Super Bowl given the criticism flying around the NFL this year," said Sarah Wood, co-founder of Unruly, a marketing technology company that tracks ads. The spot has over 30,000 shares since airing 48 hours ago.
The league donated the airtime for the spot, which this year runs at $4.5 million for 30 seconds on NBC, whose parent company also owns TODAY.com and NBCNEWS.com. The ad was created by the NFL's advertising agency of record, Grey Advertising, and will air in the first quarter of the game.
No More director Virginia Witt said the ad was inspired by true 911 calls where victims have used the fake pizza order call to request help while talking around an abuser in the room who might overhear them. In October, BuzzFeed wrote about a similar story that surfaced earlier this year on Reddit and it was picked up by several news outlets.
"The goal of the PSA is to activate and engage the vast audience of men and women across America in saying NO MORE to domestic violence and sexual assault," said Witt.
"Public awareness is the first, essential step toward changing the culture into one where domestic violence and sexual assault no longer happen."
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