Nationwide Insurance’s commercials for the Super Bowl started out okay — Mindy Kaling’s “Am I Invisible” spot featured Mindy going through a car wash and then trying to kiss Matt Damon, providing viewers with the laughs expected during a Super Bowl ad. But then, something took a dark turn. Nationwide’s second commercial, dubbed “Make Safe Happen,” started off innocently enough, with a young boy trying to ride his bike with his friends. It looks like a lovely, enjoyable afternoon for a kid, but then the commentary starts: The boy starts listing all of the things he’ll never get to do, including kiss a girl and get married. Why won’t he be able to make those one-of-a-kind life moments?? Because he’s dead. He died in a horrible childhood accident.
This tone-deaf commercial is like the end of The Sixth Sense , except we are all eating spicy, cheesy nachos and seeing dead babies instead of Haley Joel Osment. Recognizing the uncomfortable discord in screaming at the television while eating chili and watching a commercial about kids who have passed away, Twitter got to talking about “Make Safe Happen.” Nationwide didn’t read the room of screaming football fans quite right, and boy, oh boy, was the Internet ready to throw Nationwide to the wolves in Budweiser's Super Bowl commercial.
Nationwide's intentions were certainly pure — keeping children safe is an important issue for any household — but the Super Bowl is definitely not the place to make this point.
Late Sunday night, Nationwide issued a statement regarding their "Dead Kid" ad to NBC News:
Preventable injuries around the home are the leading cause of childhood deaths in America. Most people don't know that. Nationwide ran an ad during the Super Bowl that started a fierce conversation. The sole purpose of this message was to start a conversation, not sell insurance. We want to build awareness of an issue that is near and dear to all of us-the safety and well being of our children. We knew the ad would spur a variety of reactions. In fact, thousands of people visitedMakeSafeHappen.com, a new website to help educate parents and caregivers with information and resources in an effort to make their homes safer and avoid a potential injury or death. Nationwide has been working with experts for more than 60 years to make homes safer. While some did not care for the ad, we hope it served to begin a dialogue to make safe happen for children everywhere.
Image: Nationwide Via YouTube