GLENDALE, Ariz. — On a night that’s all about flash and high-octane excitement, the commercial stood out for its starkness, both in tone and topic. On Super Bowl Sunday, No More, an anti-domestic violence campaign, teamed up with the NFL’s ad group for a haunting 60-second reminder of the barriers to even talking about violence in the home.
The commercial features the audio of a 911 call, inspired by a real-life call a dispatcher posted on Reddit, the social networking site, last year. In response to a question posed on the popular forum about what calls 911 operators could never shake, one wrote: “I had a call that started out pretty dumb, but was actually pretty serious.” It seemed to be dumb because the caller didn’t tell of an emergency when asked. As posted on Reddit, the call went:
Caller: “I’d like to order a pizza for delivery.”
Dispatcher: “Ma’am, you’ve reached 911”
Caller: “Yeah, I know. Can I have a large with half pepperoni, half mushroom and peppers?”
Dispatcher: “Ummm … I’m sorry, you know you’ve called 911 right?”
Caller: “Yeah, do you know how long it will be?”
Dispatcher: “OK, ma’am, is everything OK over there? Do you have an emergency?”
Caller: “Yes, I do.”
The emergency is that she was being physically abused but couldn’t break away from her attacker to call for help. The dispatcher, who has been identified as Keith Weisinger, eventually caught on.
Dispatcher: And you can’t talk about it because there’s someone in the room with you?
Caller: Yes, that’s correct. Do you know how long it will be?
Dispatcher: I have an officer about a mile from your location. Are there any weapons in your house?
Dispatcher: Can you stay on the phone with me?
Caller: Nope. See you soon, thanks.
Reading the words is haunting enough, and heard in the Super Bowl spot, they’re chillingly effective. The audio plays over images of a home that looks unremarkable, apart for a few telltale signs of disarray.
And how did the Reddit post make it to the small screen’s biggest night? According to The Wall Street Journal, a writer saw the post, reached out to Weisinger and got another dispatcher from Connecticut to read a nearly identical version of the call Weisinger recounted.
The spot reminds “people to listen carefully and look for subtle signs of domestic violence,” the agency told The Wall Street Journal.
Weisinger had a similar take, telling The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “I’d love for people to understand what distances others have to go to get help.”