What sells better than sex? Tears and guilt and discomfort!
Picture this – you’re a seven year old boy who’s landed his first big acting gig. How exciting! Your big line?
“I couldn’t grow up, ’cause I died from an accident.”
Yikes. The following shots illustrate ways this kid could have died – falling out of a window, drowning in a bathtub and – wait for it – being crushed to death by a TV? Designed to appeal to concerned parents, the backlash for the commercial was intense, saying it was insensitive:
Nationwide representatives standing silently under every light in stadium parking lot dressed like the Grim Reaper as crowd files out.
— pourmecoffee (@pourmecoffee) February 2, 2015
What are we supposed to take away from this? “Sure, your kid got crushed by a TV, but at least he was insured”?
Unlike GoDaddy, who yanked their ad from the airwaves and apologized after public outcry, Nationwide stood by the advertisement in a release sent to NBC News late last night.
“Preventable injuries around the home are the leading cause of childhood deaths in America,” the statement read. “Most people don’t know that. Nationwide ran an ad during the Super Bowl that started a fierce conversation. The sole purpose of this message was to start a conversation, not sell insurance.”
This year’s bout of Super Bowl commercials were as grim as Kanye West’s face for the majority of the game, and though there were a handful of winners, there was an unusual amount of dark material airing between plays. Here’s others that were anything but fun and games.
“No More” Public Service Announcement
An average thirty second Super Bowl spot cost $4.5 million this year, and the NFL donated this powerful PSA featuring real audio footage of a woman pretending to order a pizza to avoid speaking candidly with the person in the room with her to address the organization’s rocky year with the subject of domestic and sexual abuse.
Nissan: “#Withdad” Campaign
Though this ad is one of many boring spots that tried to appeal to the many dads screaming at the television last night, Nissan’s spot was especially sobering. A racecar driver dad repeatedly ignores his son, terrifies his wife with on-the-job injuries, then shows up for a visit at the end. Thanks for not raising me, Dad! Let’s buy a Nissan! Cue “Cat’s in the Cradle.”
While not extremely jaded on the surface, this ad takes one of Aesop’s most famous public domain fables and flips it off, using the phrase “slow and steady my a**” to make their point. See, kids? Buy an expensive car and you can be a jerk to whoever you want. While you’re at it, buy a Nissan, and maybe your absent dad will take an interest in you!
Budweiser: “Lost Dog”
The most intentional heartstring yanker of the night, it’s fun to imagine that the coyote represents local beers that cost the same and taste better, and the horses represent the $4.5 million that Budweiser spent on the ad. Still, a cute ad if a little dark toward the end. Also, how is this dog-owning farmer single? Calling shenanigans on that one.
While nothing can match the public response to the Nationwide spot, there’s no doubt that advertising went a few shades darker this year…and no, we’re not talking about the “Fifty Shades” trailer.