Ad's rejection giving group free publicity

By DAVID KAPLAN Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle won’t get its ad on the Super Bowl broadcast, but rejection may be working in the group’s favor. The controversy has generated a ton of publicity for the liberal group.

Many news stories on CBS refusing to run Moveon’s 30-second spot have appeared in newspapers and on TV, including the The CBS Evening News. Fox personality Bill O’Reilly raised the issue on his show, voicing his belief that the Moveon ad deserved airtime during the game. 

The spot, titled “Child’s Play,” shows children doing manual and assembly line work and asks the question, “Guess who’s going to pay off President Bush’s $1 trillion dollar deficit?”

CBS said it refused to run the ad because it’s advocacy advertising, said Dana McClintock, senior vice president of CBS Communications.

In the past CBS has turned down advocacy ads from conservative and liberal groups, McClintock said. He also noted that CBS has run anti-drug ads from previous administrations. 

CBS also refused an ad produced by PETA.

Moveon is an online advocacy group whose goal is to bring “ordinary people,” as opposed to “big money and big media,” back into politics.

“We see it as a free speech issue,” said Eli Pariser, campaign director for Moveon. “We’re not against the White House running an ad,” he said in reference to an anti-drug message from the White House that will air during the game. 

Moveon spent $300,000 to run multiple spots of “Child’s Play” on CNN this week, and plans to run the ad more in the future. 

“We’d rather run the ad” than get all the publicity its Super Bowl rejection has generated, Pariser said, but “it has been amazing. Over the past 24 hours, 40,000 more people have joined Moveon.” 

Moveon has gotten the “ideal outcome,” said Betsy Gelb, professor of marketing and entrepreneurship at the Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston. 

“They didn’t have to spend $2 million for the ad and still got tremendous publicity,” she said. “And they look like a big-time player trying to buy an ad for the Super Bowl.”