Nationwide Defends Controversial Dead Child Super Bowl Ad

Yesterday's Super Bowl commercials had Kim Kardashian, The Dude, and Danny Trejo crashing The Brady Bunch. But it's a celebrity-free ad from Nationwide Insurance that everyone is talking about—and not for reasons the company was likely hoping for.

In the commercial, an adorable little boy talks about all the things he'll miss out on in life . . . because he's dead.

The ad was designed to promote the company's Make Safe Happen initiative to protect kids from household dangers. But naturally, the fact that it relied on a dead kid did not sit well with many. The ad was denounced as not only needlessly depressing and fear-stoking, but downright morally corrupt. Using parental anxiety over a kid dying to promote insurance? Really?

For its part, Nationwide has been on the defensive, issuing a statement saying:

"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, 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."

I'm personally divided on this—80% of me thinks it's a distressing example of just how craven and shameless modern marketing has become. But the other 20% of me wants to believe the company really had noble aims. And if the ad prevents even one child's death because of subsequent parental awareness and education . . .  won't it have been worth it?


Image via Twitter/@BurtHubbuch

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