The most talked about ad from Super Bowl XLIX is from Nationwide -- but it isn't because people liked it. Instead of going for something clever and funny or touching and poignant, Nationwide decided to remind people that their kids can die in accidents.
The spot (edited to have what looks like an eerie gray filter from Instagram over it) shows a young boy narrating how he will never learn to ride a bike, get cooties from a girl, learn to fly, or get married, as a soft but deceptively uplifting song plays in the background. The scenarios become more and more imaginative, with real "cooties" dancing around the boy and a bunch of animated toy robots consoling him in a storybook forest at his missing wedding -- perhaps to symbolize the vast imagination he'll never experience, either.
Cut to a close up of the boy looking despondent as he says, "I couldn't grow up, because I died from an accident."
Watch the ad, below.
Nationwide got a huge reaction out of the ad, though it wasn't positive. Many took to Twitter to accuse the insurer of being a "Debbie Downer," and the spot drew criticism for being too serious.
Nationwide responded immediately defending the ad choice, saying its intention was to "begin a dialogue to make safe happen for children everywhere."
Was the Super Bowl the right time and place for Nationwide to run its "Make Safe Happen" campaign? They seem to think so. See some reaction below, and make sure to add yours by commenting below or tweeting us at @PC360_Markets.
Nationwide absolutely owned the NFL season with singing Peyton ad. Erased it all tonight.— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) February 2, 2015
Just saw the @Nationwide commercial. Great for PSA but poor taste for selling insurance which, despite the statement, was the goal— Angry Chihuahuas (@angrychihuahuas) February 2, 2015
Just saw the @Nationwide "Make Safe Happen" commercial... As a parent, that dumb ad is enraging. Fear mongers.— Andy Cook, Ph.D. (@abairdcook) February 2, 2015
How does insurance stop you from dying? Doesn't it just help after the fact? Wasn't that point of the commercial? Get nationwide or die?— MilkChocl8Marcus (@chiveadelphia) February 2, 2015
You fearmongers should be in jail. I'd get my insurance anywhere but from you now. #nationwidecommercial— Christy Potter (@ChristyWriter) February 2, 2015
#nationwidecommercial Not promoting a product or service. Simply trying to reach the largest single audience with an important message.— John McManus (@auburnlad) February 2, 2015
All joking aside, my aunt made a pretty good point. If just 1 child was saved as a result of the @nationwide commercial, isn't that good?— Jennifer (@jenlind70) February 2, 2015