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The politician Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is receiving backlash from his extended family following an ad that ran in the second quarter of Super Bowl LVIII.
The spot deliberately replicated an ad run by the late John F. Kennedy in his 1960 presidential campaign, down to its signature jingle and hand-drawn illustration style. The Super Bowl spot replaced images of JFK with RFK Jr. and trimmed the length by 30 seconds, but was otherwise a direct callback.
The ad sought to highlight the familial connection between JFK and RFK Jr., in part through the repetition of the surname Kennedy throughout both.
But the strategy backfired almost immediately after the ad aired, as members of the extended Kennedy family began denouncing the campaign across social media.
Bobby Shriver, the son of JFK’s sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver, lambasted the ad for using the faces of his mother and uncle without permission.
RFK Jr. is currently running for the presidency as a third-party candidate, after leaving the Democratic ticket in October. Despite a distinguished career as an environmental lawyer, he has drawn scrutiny in recent years for his disavowal of medical vaccines, a belief that made him a political lightning rod during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Shriver and others pointed to these fringe medical beliefs as the primary reason why his mother and JFK would not have endorsed RFK Jr. for political office.
In response, RFK Jr. publicly apologized to Shriver, responding via Twitter that he was unaware of the contents of the ad.
Indeed, the spot was funded and created by the political Super PAC American Values 2024, and election laws prevent Super PACs from coordinating with the candidates they back.
The spot cost $7 million to run and took about 36 hours to produce, according to American Values founder Tony Lyons.
Despite apologizing for its contents, RFK Jr. immediately shared the campaign on Twitter and still has it pinned to his profile.