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In Defense of NationwideFebruary - 2015

The big winner from Super Bowl XLIX? It’s Nationwide Insurance.

Now, we can all agree to disagree with the company’s $4.5 million dollar ad about a dead child. But, admit it, everyone is talking about it.

And do you remember all the other brands that spent millions in production, talents and media for their commercials during Sunday’s big game? Maybe a handful of them. But is a lost puppy really going to get you to buy a six-pack of beer, or a tortoise going to compel you to purchase a high-performance automobile?

Yeah, we didn’t think so.

So, here’s why Nationwide made a bold move (sorry, Toyota). There is never a good time to have a tough conversation, whether it’s with your children, a partner, an aging parent, or anyone else.

But the Super Bowl provided Nationwide with an audience like no other to start a conversation about a serious issue.

And to all of those who say the Super Bowl is no place for serious ads — we would question, why not? As an advertiser, why is it ok for T-Mobile to throw a Kardashian in our face, or for GoDaddy to objectify women?

Yet ads about child safety or domestic abuse are out of bounds?

Our issues with the controversial ad itself were:

  • It overshadowed the company’s solid “Invisible Mindy” ad featuring Mindy Kaling and
    Matt Damon (Nationwide’s agency should have told them in advance)
  • The creative treatment could have been better
  • Brands today must be fully prepared to react on social media when taking risks

The worst thing Nationwide can do now, however, is back down. Brand is so much more than an ad or ad campaigns. If Nationwide truly wants to #MakeSafeHappen a national dialogue, then the company needs to continue the tough conversation.

It can’t just let it die.

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