Nationwide Makes Sad Happen

By Erik Oster 

Ogilvy created the year’s most depressing Super Bowl ad with its “Make Safe Happen” spot for Nationwide.

The spot, which ran during the first half of the game, opens with narration by a young child. “I’ll never learn to ride a bike,” he says over a melancholic acoustic guitar track, and then continues to list all the things he’ll never do. “I couldn’t grow up, because I died from an accident,” he reveals at the end of the spot, followed by the message, “The number one cause of childhood deaths is preventable accidents.”


Unsurprisingly, people didn’t take the depressing message interrupting their football and cute animals very well. The social media backlash was quick and pronounced. So, what exactly was Nationwide thinking?

“Preventable injuries around the home are the leading cause of childhood deaths in America,” Nationwide  said in a statement released last night in response to the backlash. “Most people don’t know that…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 wellbeing of our children. We knew the ad would spur a variety of reactions.” Nationwide went on to claim that “thousands of people visited, 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.”

Still, given the negative publicity, we’d be pretty surprised if Nationwide considered the ad a resounding success.