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Nationwide’s buzzkill ad about a boy talking about all the things he’ll never get to enjoy because he’s dead provoked such a huge, overwhelmingly negative reaction on Twitter that the company released a statement late on Sunday.
Titled “Make Safe Happen,” the ad was shown during the first half of the Patriots victory over the Seahawks, and almost immediately the response on social media was a collective WTF that turned into anger.
— Adweek (@Adweek) February 2, 2015
Seriously??? This #nationwide commercial is the worst….death of a child??? How was that a good idea?
— Irish / Gail (@Irisheyz77) February 2, 2015
Ok wtf commercial makers. #nationwide is totally NOT on my side.
— Amy D. Bushatz (@amybushatz) February 2, 2015
— Al Madrigal (@almadrigal) February 2, 2015
The ad quickly became a trending topic on Twitter and somewhat overshadowed an earlier more well-received Nationwide advert featuring Mindy Kaling and Matt Damon.
Late Sunday, Nationwide released a statement to NBC News explaining the rationale behind “Make Safe Happen,” acknowledging that the ad had started a “fierce conversation.” The company said it wanted people to talk about the issue rather than sell insurance. The full statement said:
“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.”
See the controversial ad below.
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