Super Bowl television audiences seldom replenish food or drinks when commercials air during the game as entertaining ads have become an integral part of the festivities. It is said a good Super Bowl commercial must contain four elements: It needs to be humorous, memorable, compel you to buy the product and leave you with a more favorable view of the brand. While commercials have relied heavily on this formula over the years, one Super Bowl ad this year having great impact in conveying a most memorable message was actually void of the other three elements.
Lacking humor, the ad packed plenty of emotional punch. In 60 seconds, the commercial, sponsored by Toyota, told the story of Jessica Long. Jessica was born in Siberia, where an adoption agency had located her on behalf of an American couple. As the adoptive parents, the Longs were told, although a 13-month old girl had been found for them, she had been born with a rare medical condition that would necessitate the amputation of both her legs below the knees. Advised the baby’s life would not be easy, Mrs. Long simply responded, “It may not be easy, but it will be amazing. I can’t wait to meet her.”
Loved and nurtured as a young girl by the Longs, Jessica grew up to become a 13-time paralympic gold medal winner. The commercial ends with the message, “We believe there is hope and strength in all of us.”
There were two obvious messages conveyed in the ad and a third, much more subtle one. As one critic pointed out, the subtlety may have been lost on liberals who, despite the commercial tugging at viewers’ heartstrings, liberals being liberals may well fail to recognize the message conveyed.
The first obvious message was the love the Longs had for Jessica – a helpless baby they had not even met – knew no boundaries. Raising a child required to undergo a double leg amputation would clearly have its challenges, but, because they possessed the necessary inner “hope and strength,” the Longs were up to that challenge. What became important to them was to raise Jessica to not envision the loss of her legs as a handicap that was holding her back but as a motivation for moving forward.
The second obvious message was Jessica’s commitment to excel. While parents can provide all the love and guidance of which they are capable in helping a child overcome a physical handicap, in the end, success or failure in doing so ultimately rests with how the child receiving that love and guidance decides to direct it. Whether a child chooses to wallow in self-pity or shoot for the stars turns on self-perception. Again, it was Jennifer’s inner “hope and strength” that moved her in a positive direction to achieve what might be perceived as impossible in winning 13 paralympic gold medal championships.
The more subtle message conveyed by the ad was pro-life. The viewer is not told why Jessica’s birth parents left her for adoption, but a fair assumption was they perhaps had limited means to care for her and simply did not wish to face the challenges, financial and otherwise, of raising a child whose start in life would begin far behind the other starters.
Jessica’s birth parents probably did not know this until after she was born. Their decision to put her up for adoption is not dissimilar to that of a natural mother who, prior to the birth of her child, experiences similar concerns over bringing a child into the world whom she knows will be physically disadvantaged and opts to abort. Jessica began her life at a much more disadvantaged starting point than would have any of the estimated 62 million babies in America who have been aborted since the 1973 Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision, had they been given a chance to live. And who knows what champions – whether it be in sports, medicine, technology, cures for disease, etc. – were among them who will now and forever remain unknown?
The ad about Jessica was a welcome break from the plethora of Super Bowl ads most of which, understandably, sought to sell products or, not understandably, sought to promote the Black Lives Matter ideology seeking to do away with the nuclear family (a belief it still embraces although it removed the specific language from its website) or to praise false NFL hero Colin Kaepernick. At a minimum, the NFL should have made its $250 million anti-racism donation – to be paid out over a 10-year period – in the name of a real NFL hero, Pat Tillman who left behind a successful football career to serve in the Army and, sadly, was killed in Afghanistan.
The Jessica Long ad sends us a message about embracing the hope and strength within us to take on life’s challenges. But it also subtly tells us we should not make the decision to deny life to those who will face those challenges after birth. Hope and strength are assets allowing all to overcome life’s adversities.
If there were an Olympics for commercials, Toyota’s ad would take the gold.
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