A powerful Christian message will air among commercials for cars, beer and electronic devices during the Super Bowl on February 12. The “He Gets Us” campaign, which is spreading the message that Jesus understands the human condition, could become the best-known such ad of all time.
David Green, the billionaire cofounder of Hobby Lobby, is helping fund the ads in partnership with the National Christian Foundation Heartland in Overland Park, Kan.
“You’re going to see it at the Super Bowl — ‘He Gets Us,’” Green said. “We are wanting to say — we being a lot of people — that he gets us. He understands us. He loves who we hate. I think we have to let the public know and create a movement.”
Jason Vanderground, president of Haven, a branding firm based in Grand Haven, Mich., that is working on the “He Gets Us” campaign, confirmed that the Greens are one of the major funders, among a variety of donors and families who have gotten behind it. Donors to the project are all Christians but come from a range of denominational backgrounds, Organizers also have signed up 20,000 churches to provide volunteers to follow up with anyone who sees the ads and asks for more information.
The Super Bowl ads alone will cost about $20 million, according to organizers, who originally described “He Gets Us” as a $100 million effort. “The goal is to invest about a billion dollars over the next three years,” Vanderground said. “And that is just the first phase.”
One of the ads that aired during the NFL playoffs was titled “That Day” and tells the story of an innocent man being executed. “Jesus rejected resentment on the cross,” the ad says. “He gets us. All of us.”
Religious-themed ads have been relatively rare at the Super Bowl. The Church of Scientology has run ads in the past, and in 2018 Toyota ran an ad with the message “We’re all one team,” featuring a rabbi, a priest, an imam and a saffron-robed monk headed to a football game, where they sat next to some nuns.
Closer to the “He Gets Us” model was the CBN’s $5 million national campaign to promote “The Book,” a repackaged version of The Living Bible translation, with a catchy theme song sung by country legend Glen Campbell.
Previous ads during the Super Bowl have been attacked for being too controversial. In 2010, Focus on the Family debuted an ad featuring Pam Tebow, mom of Tim Tebow. In it, she states she chose to have her son rather than abort him.
“I think we ended up in the Top 10 for the most controversial ads … that wasn’t the one I wanted, but it’s OK. I communicated a message,” said Focus on the Family CEO Jim Daly told the Associated Press. He said the goal was to reach the most people with “a quick story about the positivity of choosing life.”
Daly says they know of one woman who chose against aborting her baby as a result of the ad.
As for the “He Gets Us” campaign, there’s also big potential to change hearts.
“We think Jesus is a big deal and we want to make a big deal out of it,” says Vanderground. “What better way to do that than to put him in the biggest cultural moment that we have the entire year?”
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice