Q & A With Creator Of Ocean-Friendly Super Bowl Ad

During the Super Bowl pre-game show on Sunday, Bay Area residents were treated to the full commercial during Sunday’s Super Bowl pre-game show on NBC.

Part of a larger SeaWeb campaign to raise awareness about the poor health of our oceans, the ad used an unusual tactic–complete silence–to capture people’s attention during the lights and noise of the Super Bowl.

I asked those in the Bay Area to share their thoughts about whether or not the ad was successful in promoting ocean conservation issues to the masses. Responses, which can be read here, are mixed. While many loved the beautiful ocean images, some thought that images of ocean pollution would have been more successful.

Watch the ad below:

As a follow up, I decided to post this SeaWeb interview with Bob Talbot, the commercial’s producer. In it, Talbot explains the thinking and inspiration behind the spot, why people need time for reflection in today’s frenetically-paced society and how beautiful ocean cinematography can actually be a disservice.

SeaWeb: What was the inspiration behind your SeaWeb spot?

Bob Talbot: The idea is to let the ocean speak for itself. When you are out there every day, or even just a few days, of your life, you can’t help but want to wrap your arms around the whole world and say, “you have to see this.” Its what our planet is; we are an ocean planet. To be there, to feel it, it’s hard to imagine how anyone could be party to squander it. The idea of the piece is to take people there, if only for a few moments, and have them feel that through the music and imagery, with the hopes that when we have that abrupt cut to black that they feel the potential loss of what is really life on this planet.

SeaWeb: Companies pay premiums for a :30 spot during the Superbowl, and some may consider a :05 black screen a wasted opportunity. Why the “Cut to Black”?  What is the symbolism behind this shot?

Bob Talbot: I think now with air time being as valuable as it is, and people’s attention span being as short as it is, we really do need the pause. I think that the notion that five seconds of reflection is such a huge deal, says a lot in and of itself. That five seconds of black to reflect on what you have seen; we hardly take 5 frames of black anymore. It used to be that when a program on television ended, you would have a moment of black to reflect and then the credits would roll. Now the credits roll over the end of the show and you go directly into the next show. There is very little time anymore in modern society to reflect on much of anything. It gives people an opportunity to a) hopefully get a sense what they are missing and could potentially lose, and b) take a moment to reflect on how we look at things, how when five seconds of our attention isn’t being taken up we freak out, we find that uncomfortable.

SeaWeb: What can viewers take away from your message and how can they share the word?

Bob Talbot: What they can do is go to SeaWeb’s Web site www.seaweb.org. The site will give them defined actions to take. But it comes down to two things: What we put into the ocean and what we take out of the ocean. What we put into our mouths probably has the greatest effect on what goes in and out of the ocean. When we eat protein from the ocean it obviously has to be extracted somehow, so we have to look at how it’s extracted. Then we have to look at other things we put in our mouths. Any animal protein is much less efficient to produce than vegetable protein. With inefficiency comes waste and most waste ends up in the sea. When you look at agricultural waste that is created by farming animals for food, a lot of that runoff, pesticides and wasted water ends up in the ocean. Everything goes downhill and downhill is the ocean. I am not suggesting that people stop eating fish; I am not suggesting people stop eating animal protein, but we have to look at the real causes of things. When you look at eating lower on the food chain, even half the time, you are going to have a significant effect on the ocean. It’s important that people understand that what they eat outside of the marine environment affects the ocean as well.

Read the full interview here.

Related Reading:

Secret Oil Spill Has Been Poisoning The Gulf For 7 Years

World’s Largest Tuna Conservation Coalition Bans Shark Finning

Top 10 Endangered Places In The Southeastern U.S.

Image Credit: Thinkstock


Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe5 years ago

This is the first time I've seen this commercial and I really did not get that much out of it.

Sure, the music was nice and the animal scenes were cool, but I didn't get what the commercial was about until I read more of the article.

I agree, it would have more impact if it had shown the beach with all the junk on it. That would remind us to help out, instead of contributing to the problem.

Vicky Pitchford
Vicky P5 years ago


Ernie Miller
william Miller6 years ago


Kathleen Acker
Kathy Acker6 years ago

Glad it was here to see, did not watch super football, it is beautiful ad, powerful. Everyone knows the pollution, ( other ads running with plastic bottles floating etc.). This is the way it should be when everyone cares, and fights for our planet.

Christy Elamma
Christy Elamma6 years ago

What I think would have been more effective would be to show it just like it was, then after 1-2 seconds of black screen show the picture with all the pollution and then text saying help conserve and protect, then their website url.

Nicole Weber
Nicole W6 years ago

I hope it has more than just a superbowl spot, more viewers need to experience this advertisement

Hunter W.
Hunter W6 years ago

I do believe it would have made a much bigger impact if it showed some of the nasty pollution. I highly doubt that most people even remember the web address long enough to actually go visit it. On top of that, they probably thought it was a commercial for some new nature show (it really reminded me of the blue planet show). The pictures were stunning, but I don't think it really got it's point across.

Karen and Ed O.
Karen and Ed O6 years ago

When a bunch of guys have been sitting around stuffing their faces and drinking beer, do we really think they going to be wide awake enough to get that message. The shots and the music were beautiful but it should have been followed with shots of garbage and oil on the surface to be more affective.

David N.
David N6 years ago

Thanks for the article and the chance to see the ad.

Jerry Mayeux
Jerry Mayeux6 years ago

Great posts all!
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