Late Friday afternoon, the Super Bowl network, CBS, announced that it had rejected a proposed ad from ManCrunch.com, a gay dating Web site.
Within hours, the story hit CNN.com, kick starting a debate over whether the CBS determination is sex-based and discriminatory. CBS denies the claim.
“After reviewing the ad, which is entirely commercial in nature, our standards and practices department decided not to accept this particular spot,” said CBS spokeswoman Shannon Jacobs. “We are always open to working with a client on alternative submissions.”
CBS said it turned down the ad partly for financial reasons, but ManCrunch believes that there’s more to it than that.
Dominic Friesen, a Mancrunch spokesperson, told SFGN that his company had submitted the ad on January 18th and received a letter on the 28th stating it had been rejected.” He continues, “They [CBS] kept on stalling and then ultimately told us there wasn’t any more ad space.”
“It’s straight-up discrimination,” said spokesperson Elissa Buchter.
Jacobs of CBS declined to comment on the charge of discrimination, but SFGN Publisher Norm Kent has criticized the network in this week’s SFGN editorial, on page 18: “It’s a joke,” he said,
The letter provided to ManCrunch by CBS states the ad “is not within the Network’s broadcast standards for Super Bowl Sunday.”
The letter also states that the CBS sales department “has had difficulty verifying [ManCrunch’s] credit status.”
Buchter said that basing the rejection on credit status doesn’t make sense because “we offered to pay cash.” But Jacobs said CBS has no record of any such offer.
CBS is charging up to $3 million for 30-second spots. Buchter said ManCrunch would have been charged $2.5 million for its ad. Friesen claims his company had raised $40 million from investors, and money was not an issue: “We paid $100,000 just to produce the commercial.”
“This was going to be our first national television ad,” states Friesen. “We are planning on rolling out an all-inclusive marketing strategy consisting of television, print, radio and online advertisements, but we wanted the Super Bowl ad to be our first.”
Shortly before ManCrunch announced the rejection, Jacobs of CBS said her company was reviewing the ad and it was “just one of many.”
ManCrunch’s ad, which can be viewed on its Web site, shows two men watching the Super Bowl. Their hands brush each other in the potato chip bowl, which inspires a passionate, male-on-male make-out session.
ManCrunch is not alone. Godaddy.com, an online retailer of Web site domain names, is running one ad in the Super Bowl this year but as posted on the www.southfloridagaynews.com website, had a second one rejected by CBS in the process. That one featured a man named Lola.
The denial by CBS to air the ad has not gone unnoticed, from gay bloggers to the mainstream press.
More than 700 hits were found when the story was researched on Google. The New York Post titled their coverage “Man-kiss ad isn’t gay-OK with CBS.”
Other websites seem to suggest that ManCrunch produced the ad—and sent it to CBS—with the intention of generating more publicity by being rejected.
Here's the rejected video: