You probably hated that Nationwide advertisement, didn’t you? You are probably confused as to why Nationwide would elect to air such a sad advertisement for football fans everywhere to see. I imagine that you didn’t see the need for such despair during the Super Bowl, or really at any time for that matter. Nationwide made the conscious decision to all but actually kill this innocent little kid on national television when all you wanted to do was watch Tom Brady cement his legacy as the greatest Quarterback of all time (that’s everyone’s unanimous perspective on this matter, right?) on that Sunday night. Quite frankly, you’re probably a little bit pissed off about this commercial, aren’t you?
Good. Guess what? You fell for Nationwide’s strategy hook, line, and sinker.
Let me preface my comments by saying that Nationwide didn’t specifically intend for viewers to react so negatively to the advertisement, but nevertheless they did intend for them to react. I happen to be a marketing major aspiring to go into advertising, and as part of an internship, I had to pay close attention to the Super Bowl ads in order to report back to my supervisor about them. I knew right away this would be one of the most impactful commercials of the night. I think it would have been more impactful if it was not for the fact that almost every company decided to release melancholy Super Bowl ads at the exact same time, but this phenomenon is a whole other story.
Think about all the Super Bowl commercials from this year. Which three ads still stand out to you today? For me, the list begins with the Avocados From Mexico “First Draft Ever” in third place (funniest ad of the night), then Nationwide in second place, and ends with Budweiser’s “Best Buds”showcasing adorable animal friendship (admit it, you got a little misty-eyed when the entire horse squad came through in the clutch and scared that mean wolf away). Now, competing with a Budweiser commercial for the best Super Bowl ad is an unfair fight. Comparable to if David’s slingshot shattered into a million pieces but Goliath was still standing tall in front of him. It’s that unfair. But the same praise being giving to Budweiser here could usually be said about Doritos or GoDaddy. Instead, we’re talking about Nationwide. And are we talking about Nationwide because Peyton Manning was losing feeling in his toes and eating chicken parm that tastes so good? No we’re not, and this is due to two things:
Some run-of-the-mill child up and died on national television instead
**A child was figuratively lost right before America’s eyes
Nationwide issued the following press release in response to the negative feedback:
“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 visited MakeSafeHappen.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.”
Check out that fourth sentence. Not even for one second did Nationwide expect that the tragic death of a child would serve as a business-savvy maneuver. That wasn’t the point. Nationwide wanted to raise awareness about the safety of children in their homes, and the company did so in a major way. Nationwide wanted to start a conversation, so that’s exactly what it did. Because people are talking about this commercial, people are talking about preventable injuries around the home. Mission accomplished.
Think about these two things as you move on from this article:
Did you know that, as Nationwide put it, “preventable injuries around the home are the leading cause of childhood deaths in America” before this advertisement?
Are you now aware that these injuries are the leading cause of childhood death in America?
My answers are no and yes, respectfully, so it’s safe to say that Nationwide got what it wanted out of me, at least.