Between the chip ads, beer stunts and celebrity cameos, two ads with a different kind of message are appearing during the Super Bowl: spots for the “He Gets Us” campaign promoting Jesus Christ.
The 30- and 60-second spots are part of a multimillion-dollar campaign from the nonprofit Servant Foundation, which also does business as an organization called the Signatry. The 30-second ad, featuring images and videos of children playing and embracing, ran after the first quarter of the game. The longer one is scheduled to run in the fourth quarter, and will show a series of photographs of people arguing and confronting other people. At the end of the ad, the message “Jesus loved the people we hate” appears onscreen.
Since its national introduction in 2022, the “He Gets Us” campaign has paid for billboards in American cities and has run spots during a variety of sports events. Its videos connect Jesus to contemporary issues like immigration, artificial intelligence and activism. Each ends with an invitation for viewers to visit the “He Gets Us” website to learn more.
The campaign aims to increase the relevance of Jesus in American culture, said Jason Vanderground, the president of Haven, the agency behind the ads.
The videos target “spiritually open skeptics,” he said, and are not affiliated with any one branch of Christianity.
The identities of most backers of the promotional push are anonymous. But David Green, the founder of Hobby Lobby, who has a history of funding right-wing causes, has said he is a donor. Mr. Vanderground confirmed that the Green family was among the funders.
The Servant Foundation has donated more than a billion dollars in recent years to religious, political and educational organizations, including some that align with anti-abortion and right-wing political causes.
Some evangelicals have criticized the ads, questioning whether the Jesus depicted in the ads is biblically accurate, and raising concerns about the volume of money being spent on the campaign.
Erick Erickson, a conservative talk show host, said he was hesitant to criticize donors but added, “I honestly think the biggest issue is: You want to share Jesus with an unchurched crowd, that amount of money on TV ads is probably not the way to do it.”
Ed Stetzer, a prominent evangelical Christian who advises “He Gets Us,” said he understood concerns that the money for this campaign could be used elsewhere. But “if millions of people are touched and maybe even impacted by this and become more like Christ,” he said, “there’s actually a lot of resources that will flow from their changed hearts.”
He added, “I think it would be successful if millions of people left with a question about who Jesus is, how to learn more.”