‘Dead Kid Ad’ Notwithstanding, Roster Shops Didn’t See Nationwide CMO’s Exit Coming

Matt Jauchius leaves after 9 years

Matt Jauchius' demise at Nationwide surprised roster shops like McKinney and Ogilvy & Mather even though it came after a public pummeling of the brand's "dead kid" Super Bowl ad.

Jauchius had worked at Nationwide since 2006 and risen from vp of strategy to chief strategy officer to chief marketing officer in 2010. Along the way, Nationwide's profile grew, in large part because of its relationship with McKinney, its lead creative agency since 2009. In fact, the brand's success at repositioning itself as a grown-up in a category that gets pretty silly made Jauchius a Brand Genius in the eyes of Adweek.

Ogilvy entered the picture last year, ostensibly to handle advertising around Nationwide's deal with Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. But the WPP Group shop went beyond that, going shoulder-to-shoulder with McKinney on a Super Bowl ad promoting the brand's concerted push to prevent accidents involving children.

The somber ad features a boy describing all the things he should have grown up to do but didn't because, "I died from an accident." Preventing childhood accidents is certainly a worthy cause—particularly for an insurer—but the tone, message and execution felt out of place on a day of parties, beer and football. As such, viewers took to social media and skewered the ad mercilessly.

Meanwhile, McKinney produced a lighthearted spot featuring Mindy Kaling that felt more appropriate for the brand and the spirit of the day. Ah, but now both agencies have to start over with a new marketing chief, albeit one from Nationwide.

Jauchius' replacement, Terrance Williams, previously was president of Nationwide Agribusiness. He too is a company veteran, having joined in 1995.