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Christian Super Bowl ad featuring foot washing deemed ‘most controversial’

Feb 13

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An ad from the He Gets Us Campaign sparked controversy online after airing during the Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 11. The 60-second spot showcased pairings of people who likely had different backgrounds and beliefs. The ad featured a pro-life protester and a woman outside an abortion clinic, a police officer and Black man, and a migrant mother and a white woman.

The close of the ad said, “Jesus didn’t teach hate. He washed feet.”

While the campaign said the purpose of the ad was to bring people together, media coverage and social media reaction indicates it did the opposite.

Headlines suggest the ad didn’t land well on either side of the political spectrum.

Fox Business: Super Bowl ‘foot washing’ Christianity ad faces attacks from the left.

Newsweek: Christian Super Bowl commercial outrages conservatives.

Other headlines left politics out of it, but still took the opportunity to poke fun.

Yahoo: “Jesus Confirmed Foot Freak”: There Was A Jesus Foot-Washing Ad During Super Bowl LVIII, And People Were Not Into It.

SF Gate: Super Bowl viewers baffled by ‘foot fetish’ commercial.

SB Nation: This AI ad for Jesus is the worst Super Bowl ad of all time.

The headlines captured a divisive response from viewers for different reasons.

Some viewers were critical of the money spent, writing online that the funds could have been put towards helping those in need.

Some left-leaning viewers noted some of largest donors for the campaign were the controversial owners of Hobby Lobby, a company criticized over its controversial Christian views.

Some conservatives were critical of the ad because they argued it was the wrong message to send. They claimed the ad doesn’t align with Christian theology, and called it blasphemous.

“What we’re trying to offer people is this invitation from Jesus to, even if they have differences, even if they have different beliefs and strongly held convictions, that there’s still a way that we can treat each other that transcends all of that,” said Jason Vanderground, a spokesperson for the He Gets Us Campaign.

The campaign said it’s an investment that has paid off. The campaign reported traffic to its website is up, and there’s been higher engagement and more sign-ups for Bible-reading plans.

“The opportunity to put the message of Jesus on display in the middle of the biggest cultural event that we have and to make his love clear and then invite people into exploring more and reading the Bible — We feel like that’s a great investment because that’s going to unleash all kinds of generosity,” Vanderground said.

Of all this year’s Super Bowl ads, the He Gets Us ad was deemed “most controversial” by The Washington Post.

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[KARAH RUCKER]
THERE WERE MOMENTS FROM THE SUPER BOWL THAT STOOD OUT THIS YEAR.

AN OVERTIME THRILLER.

A-LISTERS IN THE STANDS.

A BACK-TO-BACK VICTORY FOR THE CHIEFS.

AND — A COMMERCIAL ABOUT FEET WASHING.

TAKE A CLOSE LOOK.

BECAUSE THESE IMAGES –

SPARKED CONTROVERSY ONLINE AFTER AIRING DURING THE BIG GAME.

THE 60 SECOND SPOT FROM THE “HE GETS US CAMPAIGN” – 

SHOWCASED PAIRINGS OF PEOPLE WITH LIKELY DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS AND BELIEFS.

FROM A PRO-LIFE PROTESTER AND A WOMAN OUTSIDE AN ABORTION CLINIC.

A POLICE OFFICER AND BLACK MAN.

A MIGRANT MOTHER AND A WHITE WOMAN.

ALL SITTING TOGETHER.

ONE WASHING THE FEET OF THE OTHER.

THE CLOSE OF THE AD SAID “JESUS DIDN’T TEACH HATE. HE WASHED FEET.

WHILE THE CAMPAIGN SAYS ITS PURPOSE OF THE AD WAS TO BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER –

ONLINE REACTION AND MEDIA COVERAGE OF THE SUPER BOWL AD SUGGESTS IT DID THE OPPOSITE.

HEADLINES READ THAT THE ADVERTISEMENT UPSET BOTH THE LEFT AND THE RIGHT.

“SUPER BOWL FOOT WASHING CHRISTIANITY AD FACES ATTACKS FROM THE LEFT”.

“CHRISTIAN SUPERBOWL COMMERCIAL OUTRAGES CONSERVATIVES.”

OTHER HEADLINES LEFT POLITICS OUT OF IT – BUT STILL TOOK THEIR OPPORTUNITY TO POKE FUN.

“JESUS – CONFIRMED FOOT FREAK.”

“SUPER BOWL VIEWERS BAFFLED BY FOOT FETISH COMMERCIAL”

“THIS A-I AD FOR JESUS IS THE WORST SUPER BOWL AD OF ALL TIME”

THE HEADLINES CAPTURE A DIVISIVE RESPONSE FROM VIEWERS.

FOR DIFFERENT REASONS.

SOME WERE CRITICAL OF THE MONEY SPENT – WRITING ONLINE THAT THE FUNDS COULD HAVE BEEN PUT TOWARDS HELPING THOSE IN NEED

OTHERS ON THE LEFT NOTED ONE OF LARGEST DONORS OF THE AD CAMPAIGN WERE THE CONTROVERSIAL OWNERS OF HOBBY LOBBY.

A COMPANY CRITICIZED BY THE LEFT OVER ITS CONTROVERSIAL CHRISTIAN VIEWS.

SOME CONSERVATIVES ARE MAD THAT IT WAS THE WRONG MESSAGE TO SEND.

CLAIMING IT DOESN’T ALIGN WITH CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY –

SOME CALLING IT BLASPHEMOUS.

A SPOKESPERSON FOR THE ‘HE GETS US CAMPAIGN’ SAID

[Jason Vanderground | spokesperson for the He Gets Us Campaign]

“What we’re trying to offer people is this invitation from Jesus to, even if they have differences, even if they have different beliefs and strongly held convictions, that there’s still a way that we can treat each other that transcends all of that.

The opportunity to put the message of Jesus on display in the middle of the biggest cultural event that we have and to make his love clear and then invite people into exploring more and reading the Bible — We feel like that’s a great investment.”

[KARAH RUCKER]

AN INVESTMENT – THE CAMPAIGN SAYS PAID OFF.

TRAFFIC TO THEIR WEBSITE IS UP.

THERE’S BEEN HIGHER ENGAGEMENT AND MORE SIGN UPS FOR THEIR BIBLE READING PLANS.

OF ALL THIS YEAR’S SUPER BOWL ADS –

IT WAS DEEMED “MOST CONTROVERSIAL” BY THE WASHINGTON POST.

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