The Focus on the Family Super Bowl ad co-starring Florida QB Tim Tebow and his mom spurred complaints from pro-choice groups that inadvertently helped spread FOTF's anti-abortion message. And even though the game is over, the commercial continues to provide Focus with a publicity bonanza.
Gary Schneeberger, the organization's spokesman, notes that web traffic on the Focus site was so high yesterday that employees were asked to limit their computer use for fear of crashing the system -- and the numbers are likely to stay strong thanks to de facto PR efforts by three of media's most powerful commentators: Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly.
This morning, the Denver Post pointed out that the Focus website "logged 500,000 hits and 50,000 unique visitors during the hour in which one ad aired." But a short time ago, Schneeberger received fresher digits, and they're even more impressive.
"For Sunday and Monday only, we had 1.16 million unique visitors, which is eighteen times our normal traffic," he says. "And we had 8.6 million terabytes streamed. I don't know what that means [a terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes], but that's apparently 267 times more than we normally have. The full interview with the Tebows that's mentioned at the end of the ad had been watched a total of 762,897 times as of yesterday, and the ad on our website had been watched 305,000 times -- and that's not counting the number of views on other websites. I just saw a link on Yahoo!, which had posted the ad, and it had been viewed on their website over 1.1 million times."
Moreover, other content on the Focus site received a sizable boost as well. For instance, a video featuring Brian "Head" Welch, a former member of the band Korn who credits Christianity with helping him kick assorted addictions, "was watched 36,000 times Sunday and Monday," Schneeberger says. "So multiple tens of thousands of people saw testimony about things Focus helped them deal with."
Meanwhile, traditional media has been giving more time to the commercial as well.
"Yesterday," Scheeberger points out, "I was in the airport in Miami," where he'd attended the Super Bowl, "and I saw the ad played in its entirety on Headline News. Glenn Beck played it in its entirety on his show, too [see that clip below]. Rush Limbaugh played the audio on his show, and Bill O'Reilly played it twice last night.
"Most of what they focused on was the statement by the National Organization of Women that it promotes violence against women." Schneeberger chuckles before adding, "As you might expect, none of those commentators agreed with NOW's position on that."
According to Schneeberger, Focus didn't have specific web targets it hoped to hit in the Super Bowl's wake.
"We sort of knew industry standards and talked about what happens to companies that have Super Bowl ads when it comes to their web traffic. But this is a new sandbox for us. We've never been here before -- but we can say we're extremely encouraged about it."
Not that there weren't some unexpected bumps.
"Our CIO had to send out an e-mail to the staff yesterday asking them to limit their nonessential Internet use," Schneeberger says. "Our servers were straining so much, even though we had expanded their capacity, that we had to have the staff take it easy because of the huge volume of traffic we were experiencing."
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At this point, Schneeberger doesn't know how many people have contacted Focus regarding counseling services since the commercial appeared, and he doesn't mention anything about donation amounts; those figures aren't available yet. Neither is he ready to say whether or not Focus will pony up ad time for the Super Bowl next year.
"The only thing I can say with unshakable confidence is that in the next couple of weeks, everybody involved in this process will take some vacation time," he says. "Most organizations like Snickers, which had what a lot of people thought was the best Super Bowl ad, have either an in-house staff or agencies of hundreds of people who do PR and support. But this project has mostly been managed by a handful of folks at Focus -- not more than 25 people. And all of us are anxiously anticipating to chance to visit warmer climates or take a few days off to spend with our families before we're on to the next thing."
By the way, the Snickers commercial to which Schneeberger referred features actress Betty White apparently being tackled in a pick-up game -- an example of comic violence that apparently didn't bother NOW, as Schneeberger mentioned in this space yesterday and Beck noted on his show last night. Here's the Beckster's take: