Under pressure from the NFL, Toyota was forced to edit a commercial that showed a helmet-to-helmet tackle, even though the ad was about helping to prevent brain injuries in football.
The spot, part of Toyota's "Ideas For Good" series, discusses how modeling software that allows designers to simulate head injuries in a car crash was shared with university researchers, who will use it in their quest to design a safer helmet.
The ad has aired for months, but only caught the attention of the league after it played on a recent Monday Night Football. The next morning they called Toyota, telling them they would no longer be allowed to air it during football games, one of the most lucrative slots. The NFL wanted them to pull the commercial completely; Toyota instead removed the offending second-and-a-half of helmet-to-helmet, and are playing the edited version.
This is unfathomable. We know brain trauma exists in football, and we know blows to the head tend to cause it. But it's refreshing to know that there are researchers out there using the latest technologies to try and find a solution. What's the fear? That we'll learn Toyota and Wake Forest are taking more concrete steps than the NFL to protect players? That seeing a brutal blow in a commercial will give us a distaste for football and we'll turn off the game?
The league would prefer that we pretend helmet-to-helmet hits no longer exist, because they're now worth 15 yards on the few occasions the referees notice them. To enforce this doublethink, they're even strong-arming their advertisers.
Unhappy NFL prods Toyota to edit TV ad [Reuters]