SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A Super Bowl ad from Nationwide is stirring controversy as people were offended by a commercial discussing a child’s death.

The ad was part of Nationwide’s Make Safe Happen campaign, which aims to reduce childhood home accidents. It has a child narrating life experiences they won’t be able to experience before finally revealing he died in an childhood accident.

UC Davis marketing professor Olivier Rubel says the goal of many ad campaigns is to shock viewers to think and do. But he says it’s difficult to feel childhood death mixes with football festivities.

“I think what is puzzling is that they didn’t partner or didn’t seem to partner with any kind of nonprofit or organizations that advertise this cause, so viewers of the ad might be saying: why are they doing this ad? Where are they coming from?” Rubel said.

The backlash on social media prompted the company to release this statement: “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 well being of our children.”

But is this a case of bad press is better than no press for Nationwide?

“They’re not going to buy insurance right now,” Rubel said. “But down the line they are going to think about safety and who is going to be my partner for safety, maybe they’re going to think about Nationwide.”

Rubel says the ad is paying off for the company, because of the buzz around it that helps justify the $4.5 million price tag for the Super Bowl ad.


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