Will the end of football season also bring an end to the No More campaign? Or will its founders now feature other troubled sporting organizations on their ineffective and cringe-worthy commercials?
The No More campaign, a “public awareness and engagement campaign focused on ending domestic violence and sexual assault,” started featuring NFL players following a string of high-profile domestic violence arrests, including the Baltimore Raven’s Ray Rice and the Minnesota Viking’s Adrian Peterson. The first of these commercials aired during the Thanksgiving Day football game.
The 30-second commercial entitled “Speechless” placed players behind a blindly white wall. The pure, clean-cut background directs the viewer’s attention to the headshot of the NFL player, whose eyes are watering as he miserably stares back into the camera. In the background we can hear the crew making noises in the background, as if to grant the illusion that the camera had just so happened to be rolling to capture this very sad, very humane, and very candid moment. After what feels like a lifetime, the player’s faces are replaced with more blank white space and the slogan: “Help us start the conversation.”
You’re right, No More, domestic violence is hard to talk about. Hearing that every nine seconds a woman in the U.S. is beaten or assaulted makes me pretty upset as well. But I’m sure your mother and father taught you that crying isn’t going to fix anything.
Instead of breaking the silence, No More’s PSA campaign manages to perpetuate that silence by literally having no one talk about domestic violence in its commercial about domestic violence. What are you waiting for, No More? An invitation? While you have the NFL players on set, maybe have them discuss how the NFL has had 56 reports of domestic violence and sexual assault since 2006, many of which went unpunished by both the law and the NFL.
During the Super Bowl, No More aired another commercial featuring images of a house in disarray, and a voiceover of a woman placing a 911 call. The woman is clearly trying to get help while disguising her call as a delivery order. After the woman hastily hangs up as the operator dispatches an officer the sloganeering starts again: “When it’s hard to talk. It’s up to us to listen.” Again, No More neglects to actually “talk” about the obvious issues of domestic violence within the NFL, and instead settles for a vague allusion to the issue by airing it during football’s biggest night of the year.
The worst part about the Super Bowl Ad and “Speechless” is that both misdirect the audience’s sympathy toward the players and the administration of the NFL, instead of the victims. After watching the No More commercials, viewers, NFL fans are finally handed a piece of evidence that wrongly suggests that NFL is doing something about the 55.4% arrest rate among NFL players for domestic violence. No More allows fans to feel that they do not have to feel guilty about supporting a sport that is engaging in disgusting acts of criminal activity off the field.
In reality, the NFL is just mataining a certain facade of engagement with the issue. These ads are a way to boost their PR standing and ensure that revenue streams are uninterrupted.
Am I just expecting too much from a 30-second commercial? After all, it is the first the time a Super Bowl commercial has even attempted to address domestic violence and sexual assault. But I must question how much awareness is actually being raised if the No More campaign slogan is, at best, a polite suggestion to “start” talking about a major social problem. This problem might be new to No More, but plenty of organizations like the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the Click to Empower Allstate Foundation have already started this conversation.
Although No More refers to their commercials as Public Service Announcements, I have refused to grant them that label throughout this article. If No More wants to label their commercials as "PSAs," they better start providing some information about useful resources in their announcements, instead of selling the public an image of virtuous, caring football players. What about showing, at the very least, a hotline number to call if you or loved one need emergency assistance? All of numbers are listed on NoMore.org. Why didn’t those make the commercial?
Until No More stops varnishing the NFL’s rusty halo, we should be wary of their efforts and seek out other avenues of change that are not dependent upon the booming voices of the Patriot’s defensive line.
Samantha Ruggiero recently graduated from the University of Connecticut with a B.A in English and Psychology.