A Lesson in the Art of Persuasion: Tim Tebow’s Controversial Super Bowl Ad

This year’s recipe for Super Bowl Sunday:  the Colts versus the Saints, chicken wings, Carrie Underwood and Bud Light.  Good football, good food, good lookin’ women and booze—perfection—until Tim Tebow and his mother grace the presence of your 52 inch, high definition flat screen talking about anti-abortion and the importance of family values.  Needless to say, the irony of it all will leave you…well, it may be a buzz kill.

Despite the current economic state, CBS has sold out of commercial advertisement airtime for Super Bowl XLIV.  However, there are a number of big name corporations such as Pespi, General Motors and Fedex who’ve decided against dropping $2 million and some change for a 30-second ad during America’s most watched sporting event of the year.  Yet many are questioning the motives behind CBS’s approval of the Tebow’s anti-abortion ad.

Is the network just in it for the money, or are they simply embracing their conservatism?  Either way, CBS is getting sacked left and right from pro-choice organizations whom are not at all pleased the decision.  Regardless of the network’s motives, the real threat to these disgruntled pro-choice groups is not that Tim Tebow, the youngest Heisman Trophy winner ever, is endorsing pro-life and family values.  It is that Tim Tebow, the youngest Heisman Trophy winner ever, is endorsing pro-life and family values with more than a slew of stats to back him up.

The conservative christian group, Focus on the Family, is sponsoring the ad in hopes to spread the message, “Celebrate family, Celebrate life.”  The Tebows are the perfect poster family for this message seeing as Tim Tebow would not be here today if his mother, Pam, had followed doctor recommendations and gotten an abortion because her pregnancy with Tim was high-risk.  The ad does not mention abortion, although the underlying message is obvious; however, the persuasion tactics used in this ad are, hypothetically speaking, money.

Rhetorical theory 101: ethos, pathos and logos.

Tebow’s endorsement of this message is powerful and frankly, is very threatening to those who support women having the right to choose.  On Sunday, for those 30 seconds that this ad airs, audiences nationwide are going to stop, put down their beers and listen to what this well-respected and talented athlete has to say.  People trust Tim Tebow.  He is a credible source, with a logical message and an emotional appeal that will more than likely bring tears to hundreds of eyes.

However, the bottom line here is not pro-life, pro-choice or even family values.  It is the strength of the strategy behind this advertisement.  The message is controversial and will grab the audiences’ attention.  The ad is airing during the Super Bowl, so there is no doubt viewership will be in the millions.  And the message is convincing because it is an outline of the art of persuasion with an emphasis on emotion, but does not lack in credibility and logic.  So screw the football, chicken, babes and beer.  Tim Tebow’s endorsement may be the closest thing to perfection we may find this Sunday.

Laura Ann Klinedinst