Nationwide considers halting controversial child safety ad

Mon Feb 2, 2015 6:09pm EST
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(Reuters) - Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company is considering whether or not to drop a TV advertisement featuring a dead boy speaking to viewers after a backlash on social media as soon as the commercial about child safety aired during Sunday's Super Bowl broadcast.

Nationwide spokesman Joe Case said on Monday that some of the reaction "was stronger than we anticipated" and "we'll gauge whether or not to run the ad more."

The ad, Case said, was intended to start a conversation around child safety and accidents in the home, part of the insurer's Make Safe Happen campaign. "We care. We have a heart," he said.

Viewers quickly criticized the company on Twitter after seeing the ad of a boy narrating a list of milestones in life he would never achieve, such as learning to ride a bike, ending: "I couldn't grow up, because I died from an accident."

Comedian Patton Oswalt, for example, sent a number of tweets making fun of the ad. "The second I see a kid in one of these commercials I immediately assume they're going to die. Thanks, Nationwide! #SuperBowl" he wrote in one.

Other tweets played on the "Nationwide is on your side" jingle, with one variant by riley_fox reading “Nationwide, your kid has died.”

Some called the ad everything from grim to depressing to a loser for the insurance company.

Among the groups who previewed or consulted on the ad, company spokesman Case said, were family members who themselves had lost children.

"We did test it with a wide variety of audiences, and based on that feedback we adjusted the tone of the ad through the creative process," he said. Case declined to say how the ad's tone was changed.   Continued...