The commercial, titled “Make Safe Happen,” showed a little boy talking about all the things he won’t do in his life, like ride a bike or get married. The ad then revealed to viewers why he can’t do any of those things — he apparently drowned in a bathtub.
The ad then showed the caption: “The #1 cause of childhood deaths is preventable accidents. At Nationwide, we believe in protecting what matters most, your kids. Together we can #MakeSafeHappen.”
It caused an almost instant backlash online, with thousands taking to Twitter and calling the Nationwide Super Bowl ad the worst ever.
Might be it for me. I need to go watch that Sarah MacLachlan abused dog commercial to cheer me up before bed @Nationwide
— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) February 2, 2015
The ad even spawned a spoof Twitter account, Nationwide Kills.
Nationwide was apparently ready for the controversy their Super Bowl ad would cause. The company’s chief marketing officer, Matt Jauchius, said the ad was meant to be jarring for viewers to draw attention to what they saw as an important issue.
“The purpose of the ad is to, in a way, stage an intervention on this issue,” says Jauchius. “We’re serious about it and we wanted the ad to reflect that. The question was, what level of intervention did we want to stage? If you go funny or lighthearted with this topic, it might offend people, but beyond that it might not be effective in breaking through and creating awareness of this problem. We chose a more serious tone precisely because it will be so different than most commercials during the Super Bowl. We went that way to create awareness in consumers’ minds that this is the number one killer of children in the US. Most people don’t know that.”
Nationwide may have created the most hated Super Bowl ad of all time, but their ad killing the little boy certainly did accomplish the goal of raising awareness.
[Image courtesy of ABCNews]