How These Super Bowl Ads Point to God and Unity Through Prayer
By Movieguide® Staff
Aside from football, the Super Bowl also brings with it a slew of new commercials and movie trailers to the millions of Americans watching each year. While some focus on comedy or selling a product, some commercials share inspiring stories and encourage unity.
One example Toyota’s commercial that features 13-time Paralympic Gold Medalist swimmer Jessica Long and her inspiring story of hope.
The powerful one-minute ad is a glimpse into Long’s difficult journey. From her rare condition, which resulted in her legs’ amputation, her adoption from an orphanage in Russia, and her success as an American Paralympic swimmer, the commercial shows that appearance and disabilities define human worth.
“I got through every single challenging moment of my life because of the determination that God gave me,” Long said.
The commercial depicts Long swimming past some of the largest milestones, like learning to walk with crutches and swimming on a swim team. Long’s adoptive parents, Steve and Beth Long, are told the risks of adopting a child with her condition, but they still go forward with it and adopt Jessica.
“It’s such an emotional spot,” Long explained. “It’s so raw. The way Toyota was able to capture all of that, it brings all of these emotions out that I kind of forgot about. I didn’t start out the sport thinking that I was going to win gold medals or to be in a Super Bowl commercial. I started this sport because I truly loved the water. It was a place that I felt really free.”
Long, 28, also thanked her parents for their faithfulness in her life and for Toyota’s willingness to tell her story.
“No words will ever amount to how much this means to me. To have my story shared in such a way brings absolute chills. Thank you to Toyota for bringing my story to life. Thank you to my parents for adopting me and giving me the best life,” Long wrote on Instagram.
At the age of 10, Long joined a swim team—which became a turning point in Long’s life.
“They didn’t notice or seem to care about the fact that I didn’t have legs,” Long said. “I am positive if they treated me differently I wouldn’t be the world class swimmer I am today.”
In God’s providence, Jessica was adopted and raised in a healthy Christian household, which instilled in her a persistent faith.
Long is partnered with the advocacy group “Fight for the Fatherless,” where Christian athletes seek to encourage orphans and those affected by a disability.
“Life is hard and not every single day is easy, but setting goals and knowing you can achieve anything is important with a good attitude,” Long said. “Also to believe in yourself! Believe you are capable of incredible things and that God has a plan for every individual. I want you to embrace who God made you to be. To love every part of yourself, flaws and all.”
Another example was a Jeep commercial that featured rock ‘n’ roll legend Bruce Springsteen, a church, and a call for American unity.
The commercial, titled “The Middle,” is narrated by Springsteen as he visits the U.S. Center Chapel grounds in Lebanon, Kansas. The small building, meant for prayer, lies at the center of geographical America.
“It’s no secret, the middle has been a hard place to get to lately, between red and blue, between servant and citizen, between our freedom and our fear,” Springsteen narrates. “As for freedom, it’s not the property of just the fortunate few. It belongs to us all. Whoever you are, wherever you’re from. It’s what connects us. And we need that connection. We need the middle. We just have to remember the very soil we stand on is common ground … Our light has always found its way through the darkness.”
Olivier Francois, global chief marketing officer, told The Wall Street Journal that the commercial is a “prayer.”
“I think the whole thing is Bruce’s prayer for an America reunited that finds its common ground again,” Francois said.