The Striking Nonprofit PSA Super Bowl Ad You Didn’t See


February 3, 2013; Source: Forbes

Those watching Super Bowl XLVII on television last night didn’t see it, but just before kickoff, the jumbotron screen at the Superdome in New Orleans was alit with a different kind of Super Bowl commercial: a nonprofit public service announcement from the Gleason Initiative Foundation. Rather than selling beer or chips, this ad makes a pitch for finding a cure for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. In the PSA, a series of football greats discuss the debilitating disease, including Steve Gleason, a former New Orleans Saints player who has ALS. Gleason closes the awareness-raising PSA although, due to the disease, it is very difficult for him to speak. You can watch the PSA here:

The Gleason Initiative Foundation’s mission involves helping those with neuromuscular diseases or injuries access services and raising awareness of ALS in hopes of finding a cure. Gleason told Forbes that he hoped to be standing next to former Baltimore Ravens player O.J. Brigance when the PSA hit the jumbotron. Brigance also has a nonprofit, the Brigance Brigade, which funds research initiatives and provides support and guidance in order to “equip, encourage and empower people living with ALS” and their families.

Wouldn’t it have been nice if CBS, the network that broadcast last night’s Super Bowl, made a donation of one ad slot to help this PSA reach a wider audience? Given estimates that a 30-second Super Bowl ad cost an average of $3.8 million this year, airing the 60-second PSA would have amounted to something like a $7.6 million in-kind contribution from CBS. Nonetheless, for nonprofits working to raise the profile of the fight against ALS—or for any nonprofit, for that matter—a PSA on the jumbotron at the Super Bowl is an awareness-builder on a scale that most can only dream of. –Mike Keefe-Feldman

  • Susan speranza

    If everyone who saw Steve Gleason’s PSA for ALS would make a donation, even $5-$10 we could make a Hugh leap toward funding research desperately needed to find a cure for this horrible disease that could affect anyone!

  • Claire Lyons

    The value prop for Team Gleason’s PSA, I expect, will far exceed the $3.8mm/SB ad paid out this year. It’s just a matter of time before brands do the math: the right conversation fueled by PSA’s like this one = COST SAVINGS for marketing budgets. Shhhh, maybe we shouldn’t let the cat of the bag — thinkin’ that the longer it takes the behemoth Fortune 100 brands to do the math, the more time there is for savvy nonprofits & socially aware (responsible) brands to move in and do this kind of smart activation.