Deaf Culture at the Super Bowl
Alice L. Hagemeyer
Friends of Libraries for Deaf Action
During pre-game coverage for Super Bowl XLII on February 3, PepsiCo ran a 60-second commercial entirely in American Sign Language (ASL) and with no voice. There were open captions for non-signing viewers. The advertisement was designed to bring greater awareness of deaf culture to a wide audience.
On behalf of the American deaf community, Bobbie Beth Scoggins, president of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), applauded PepsiCO for its strong commitment to diversity and empowerment through the creation of this advertisement in ASL. She said she was glad to see "this part of deaf culture awareness shared in a most clever way."
NAD was asked by PepsiCo to provide advice, feedback, and comments on the advertisement. According to NAD, planning started in the summer of 2006 when a group of PepsiCo employees, each with their own personal connection to the American deaf community, set off on their own to create a commercial with a deaf focus and broad appeal. None of the employees were performers or marketing specialists. They came up with the concept, wrote the script, and then acted in it, sharing a demo tape with their colleagues. The ad eventually gained support from senior management, which decided that the commercial needed a big stage. Naturally, they chose the biggest: Super Bowl Sunday. The title of the ad was “Bob's House” and it was based on a popular joke within the deaf community.