With over 114 million viewers, Super Bowl XLIX became the most watched TV show in U.S. history. This means that along with watching Seattle blow it, a record audience also saw the most depressing Super Bowl ad of all-time.
Among a swath of commercials that leaned toward the serious as opposed to the trademark humorous or imaginative side, Nationwide’s young-boy-who-turns-out-to-be-dead ad took home the blue ribbon for biggest bummer. The commercial, narrated by the kid, lists all of life’s moments that he’ll never experience, because, you know—he’s dead. It was the Super Bowl commercial equivalent of putting on “Tears in Heaven” at a party.
The 45 second spot caused the Internet to explode, with Nationwide’s hashtag #MakeSafeHappen trending on Twitter for all the wrong reasons. Mocking updates and memes filled the social media stratosphere, all begging the question, “Who thought this was a good idea for a Super Bowl advertisement?”
The adage “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” is applicable here, as two days later and it’s the one commercial that is still encouraging debate. Nationwide even issued a statement: that fostering a dialogue about household accidents was the objective of the ad—not to sell insurance. So while the spot could be deemed a failure because of the public’s perception, it should also be considered a success for the amount of mileage it has received so far.
What are your thoughts on Nationwide’s Super Bowl ad? Was it inappropriate for the setting, or does the message warrant attention, regardless of the backdrop?