SUPER BOWL

This PSA on domestic violence will be the most powerful 30 seconds of Super Bowl Sunday

In a new clip that will be aired during this Sunday (Feb. 1) during the Super Bowl, the highlight of the American football season, we hear the voice of a woman ordering a pizza as the camera takes us around an apartment in disarray. “Yeah, a large with half pepperoni, half mushrooms.”

Only this isn’t an ad for Domino’s or Pizza Hut, and the woman isn’t calling her local restaurant. “Um, you know you’ve called 911?” says the person on the other end. “This is an emergency line.”

The woman knows. The conversation continues in a code of sorts.

“OK, ma’am, is everything OK over there? Do you have an emergency or not?”
“Yes.”

Rocked by abuse scandals involving its players last year, the National Football League is using the Super Bowl—the most expensive airtime of the year in the US—to air a public service announcement about domestic violence. Here’s the extended, 60 version of the ad:

The chilling clip was produced by No More, an anti-domestic-violence campaign, and the ad agency Grey New York. The NFL donated a 30-second slot for the ad and paid for its production. Quartz reached out to No More and Grey New York for comment.

The ad is the part of the league’s response to the criticism it faced for how it handled the scandals. In the most notorious case, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice appeared on video knocking his then-fiancee, now wife, Janay, unconscious in a New Jersey casino. Rice was initially suspended for two games. The relatively small penalty caused national controversy. He was later suspended indefinitely, but that decision was overturned.

The Super Bowl is the most watched TV event in America, reaching an audience of 111.5 million in 2014. The ads are among the most parsed, discussed and analyzed clips of the year. The price of a 30-second slot this year is estimated to be $4.5 million dollars.

According to Grey New York, the ad was based on a real 911 dispatch (paywall), found on a Reddit thread asking dispatchers about their most memorable calls. The Bureau of Justice Statistics says domestic violence accounts for 21% of all violent crimes. Of those, 15% are committed by intimate partners, and 76% are against women.

No More also produced a series of public-service announcements that were aired during the NFL playoffs, featuring current and former players saying things like “No More Boys Will Be Boys.”

A particularly powerful version of the series, entitled “Speechless,” features almost no words at all, catching players as they are preparing to say their lines.

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