Think about the stereotypical American football fan. What comes to mind? If you've been taking cues from what advertisers have been pushing on you for years, you'd probably think of, surprise surprise, straight, beer-swilling men. Well, one satellite provider sent a different message with its latest ad, marking the start of the NFL's 2015 season: DirecTV's NFL ad featured a gay couple, cutting against established tropes and norms in a pretty awesome way, while affirming at the same time that it's not strange at all. As one of the two football fans says at the commercial's conclusion, "We're just like any couple, really."
The ad aims to sell satellite TV, a.k.a. the solution to the two guys' friendly rivalry — one is a New York Giants fan, the other a Dallas Cowboys fan, but they both agreed on changing from cable to DirecTV, get it? I have to say, whoever choreographed this shoot did a pretty awesome job — despite representing a sort of flying, mid-air tackle, they also manage to make the pair's embrace look noticeably loving before the reveal even happens.
But the commercial's timing and the favorite teams they chose for the two guys were fortuitous. That's because the NFL's first openly gay player, defensive end Michael Sam, signed with the Cowboys just last week. Though, as AdWeek details, the spot was far from obvious before news broke, so it's really just a happy coincidence.
DirectTV follows in the footsteps of a number of corporate brands embracing progressive, pro-LGBT advertisements in recent years, and it's been an awesome process to watch unfold. Lucky Charms cereal, for example, has embraced marriage equality the last two Gay Pride Months with their "Lucky to Be" campaign.
But the value of an ad presenting an average, every day, football-loving gay couple is sort of thematically more impressive than doing so with a breakfast cereal. The NFL has long been regarded as promoting pretty regressive social ideals, both in its management and intra-team culture, and in the way it promotes itself to fans.
The specter of homophobia, in particular, still looms large. Until the Cowboys actually get a regular-season snap for Michael Sam, there's still never been an openly gay player who's actually hit the field when it counts, and that's a barrier that needs to fall, sooner rather than later.
Of course, while the Cowboys' inclusion in this ad seems appropriate, thanks to Sam, the New York Giants almost certainly have a gay player, too. In fact, speaking in terms of statistical probability, more than one. As would the Cowboys, the Jets, the Bears, the Seahawks — any old team you like. The point is, whether they're able to be open about it or not, gay people have always played football and they've always watched football, too.
Images: DirecTV/YouTube; Getty Images