The Ad

Stephen Yagielowicz
The recent uproar over the television ad, which was originally aired during the Super Bowl, shows little signs of dissipating; and is fueling a public discourse on where the line of acceptability should be drawn regarding what is, and what is not, appropriate fare for broadcaster's to disseminate. The debate isn't limited to the broadcast world, however, and neither will be the implications of where, and how, this line is eventually drawn.

The now infamous television ad features busty model Nikki Cappelli appearing before a Congressional-like panel holding "broadcast censorship hearings" – in, ironically enough, Salem Massachusetts; home to the infamous Witch Trials and executions of days past. The lovely Ms. Cappelli is shown innocently pleading with the panel to let her perform a little "" routine on television. Her request was presented in such a way as to leave the panel in a continued state of shock, with one member exclaiming that he was "flummoxed" while an obviously unhappy female member of the panel kept calling for Ms. Cappelli to be restrained, as "we don't want to have any accidents!"

Taunting the culture of fear that many criticism-shy organizations (including Super Bowl backers, the NFL) have of offending an extremely vocal minority of 'prudes' who for right or wrong feel the need to impose their beliefs on others, the commercial shows one of Ms. Cappelli's 'spaghetti straps' bust under the pressure of trying to hold back her heaving breasts, at which point a cry of "look, she's having a wardrobe malfunction!" erupts from the panel and an old man gasps at his oxygen mask while trying to get a closer look...

You can get a closer look at the ad by downloading it here.

As entertaining as I personally found the ad to be, I also appreciated the signal that this $5 million dollar commercial sent, announcing to the world that some folks in America feel that "enough is enough" – in regards to heavy-handed censorship, whether governmentally based or corporate focus-group imposed.

But that's "some folks." There are also many who feel that there's far too much racy content on television today. Unfortunately, these folks include the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which continues to impose increasingly massive fines on those it finds guilty of tainting the airwaves with material the Commission deems inappropriate. The level at which the FCC imposes a chilling effect is a good barometer to gauge public tolerance for the material we as an industry display.

"But that's broadcast and we're the Internet, so the same rules don't apply!" many of you will say; but the fact remains that many of the same folks who regulate the airwaves, would love to see the Internet – or at least the portion of it available to American surfers – fall under their regulatory control, and they may someday get their wish.

In the end, a lesson can be drawn that watching the actions of the FCC, especially in the wake of the appointment of a new Commissioner, could help indicate the overall climate that we're forced to operate in. The big lesson from the controversy, however, is that we shouldn't take ourselves so seriously. Enjoy! ~ Stephen