A feature of every Super Bowl is a panoply of commercials that air during the game touting the latest Budweiser beer, Doritos, laundry detergent and celebrities.
This year was no different when the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs faced off Feb. 12 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, a Phoenix suburb, with the Chiefs besting the Eagles 38-35, rallying after a 10-point deficit in the first half to win their second Super Bowl in four years.
But one surprising ad theme creating buzz ahead of the Big Game was Jesus. A group of 50 Christian individuals and companies, including craft retailer Hobby Lobby, purchased air time on FOX, which broadcast the game, for two “He Gets Us” commercials. The 30-second and 60-second spots cost roughly $20 million.
Commercials part of a broader ad campaign
The commercials, which are part of a broader ad campaign that began in March and utilizes billboards around the country and YouTube channels, were meant to send “a message that Jesus understands the human condition and a message of the uniting love of Jesus that will set us on a better path as a country,” said a spokesman for the campaign.
One spot using black-and-white photos focused on a Central American migrant family — a mother, father and child — who have to flee persecution in their home country. The ad closes with the revelation that it’s the story of the child Jesus, Mary and Joseph, who had to flee to Egypt.
“So what could possibly be louder and more powerful than hate? Love can. But not just any love. Confounding love. Unconditional love. Sacrificial love. The love we see in Jesus,” says the website of the “He Gets Us” campaign,” https://hegetsus.com. “Jesus showed us the path to human flourishing and fulfillment was to love others as oneself, even if it costs you your life. What if we tried to love our enemies the way Jesus loved us? How would it change the tenor of our conflicts and our conversations?”
USA TODAY reported Feb. 13 that according to its Ad Meter, which ranks commercials by consumer rating, the “30-second and 60-second ads run by ‘He Gets Us’ placed eighth and 15th, respectively.”
The ads “also generated some social-media buzz, with ‘Christian Super Bowl’ among the trending topics on Twitter on Monday morning,” the paper said.
Critics of the ads
Among the critics of the ads was U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., who tweeted the night of the Big Game: “Something tells me Jesus would not spend millions of dollars on Super Bowl ads to make fascism look benign.”
“We believe it’s more important now than ever for the real, authentic Jesus to be represented in the public marketplace as he is in the Bible,” “He Gets Us” spokesperson Jason Vanderground told Fox News Digital when asked for response to criticism from Ocasio-Cortez and others.
Aside from Hobby Lobby being identified as a major funder of the ad campaign, “most of the people driving He Gets Us, including our donors, choose to remain anonymous,” the website says, adding that funding “comes from a diverse group of individuals and entities with a common goal of sharing Jesus’ story authentically.”
David Green, co-founder of Hobby Lobby, recently told talk show host Glenn Beck that the “He Gets Us” campaign is sponsored by “a lot of people” who want to say that Jesus “gets us. He understands us. He loves who we hate. I think we have to let the public know and create a movement.”