Nationwide Insurance offered a number of commercials this past Super Bowl Sunday, including this one:
The spot struck a nerve. It seemed to be the fly in the ointment made of the chicken wings and seven-layer dips we enjoy while we watch the big game. Viewers seemed to feel that it was inappropriate, that it was poor timing, that it was disturbing. Images of terrible things that can happen to a child don't fit in with the pomp and pageantry of Super Bowl Sunday. People questioned the integrity of an insurance company posting such an ad- was it to imply that Nationwide would provide your insurance payout if you were to loose your child in an accident?
I read so much of the commentary surrounding this spot this morning. It seemed like a good night's sleep helped fuel the vitriol as the spot was declared the worst commercial of the Super Bowl. So, while we're all tossing hats into the ring, here's mine:
The Super Bowl is a day that offers one of the highest rates of domestic violence, more so than the rest of the year. Knowing that, I kind of feel like the pearl-clutchers who are shocked by the images they saw should know about so many real-life images that happen behind the scenes. Yes, the game is a great time and a ton of fun, but it's darker side is a reality not often spoken about.
After that commercial, how many people got up to check the back of their television to make sure it's secure? Or double check the cabinet with the cleaning products when they hopped up to grab another beer during a lull in play?
A few viewers said that the commercial scared their kids. How many of them turned to their child and said "Yes, that is very scary. That's why I ask you to trust me and listen when I ask you not to do something. It's because I love you very much and it's my job to protect you."
I am not naive enough to think that Nationwide had purely altruistic motives. A spot that expensive needs to have some sort of payback. But I do think that they had a very unique opportunity to speak to millions of people about a very real truth. It was a chance to say something versus sell something. You have to appreciate someone who is willing to take that risk.
The thought of something happening to your child is the type of thought that tends to be pushed towards the back of your mind, not splashed across the screen on the biggest television event of the year. But is there ever, really, the "right" time to talk about something like this? No. But, perhaps it was time.