Nationwide Needs to Apologize

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 1.52.30 PM Quick rant, if I may.

There was a lot of panning companies who ran ads during the Super Bowl because they were so damn depressing. Apart from educating the public about the damaging decrease in self-esteem most girls suffer at puberty (#runlikeagirl) and portraying an incredibly powerful anti-domestic violence ad, (calling 911 for “ordering pizza”) the rest of the commercials did their level best to impart heavy relevance to their otherwise emotionless products. Annoying and sad, yes. Outrageous? No. Except for Nationwide. Their Mindy Kaling ad was phenomenal and hilarious in a silly and sardonic way. I loved that ad.

Their second ad, though? With the cherubic little boy talking about all the things he’ll never do?

“Why is that, sweetheart?” we wonder. “Why won’t you do these things like get cooties and learn to ride a bike?”

“Because I will die in a preventable household accident,” he tells us.

We’re then subjected to images of bathtubs running over, smashed TV sets, open cabinets under sinks where, of course, the bleach is stored. The internet exploded with derision and sarcasm, taking Nationwide to task over the inappropriateness of the commercial, and how unnecessary it was to get the point across in the way it did. Many of the tweets and memes were smart and funny, and a friend sent one to me knowing I hated the commercial. It is extremely funny and clever, and yet I couldn’t laugh.

I couldn’t laugh at this brilliant tweet because I was too angry. I wasn’t annoyed that Nationwide was bumming me out, man. I was angry on behalf of all the people I know whose children have died so young. How triggering it must have been for them. How many of them may have sat down to watch football in an attempt at normalcy to have their worlds re-shattered during the half-time show? How many of them had to leave the room sobbing because Nationwide was attempting to send a “powerful” message to sell their insurance? For Christ’s sake, people.

Now, I realize the domestic violence ad may also have triggered reactions to people for whom that tragic topic hits much too close to home. However, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are aware the NFL has its  very public issues with domestic violence, and is under tremendous pressure to air ads against it during their football games as a sort of public penance. You know because this is highly publicized, and are able to brace yourself or leave the room when commercials come on.

If your child has died, however, either from cancer, a car accident, or drowning in a kiddie pool, you would have no reason whatsoever to expect to be assaulted with that scenario and those soul-searing images in the midst of the Super Bowl. You’d have had no warning and no way to prepare. And I am furious on your behalf. That commercial was likely more than just a bummer for those living their lives with this type of irreplaceable loss. It was cruelty under the guise of caring-about-you-so-please-buy-our-insurance. To me, it was unconscionable.

People will tell me to lighten up, and while yes, this commercial was awful and a bummer, it’s not a worthy target of my wrath. I understand that, and I’m not even telling others they should feel keenly as I do about this particular advertising decision. However, not even the use of Mindy Kaling, Matt Damon, and Peyton Manning in your funny commercials can make up for that childhood accident commercial. At best, it was emotionally insensitive. At worst, it was emotional barbaric, and I believe you owe this special subset of parents your direct and passionate contrition.

"No thanks, bible beaters. Keep it to yourselves."

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Nationwide Needs to Apologize
"It strikes me as part of the larger -- and growing -- tendency for the ..."

Nationwide Needs to Apologize

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  • Leslie F. Miller

    It’s a tasteless commercial. I agree. But I don’t agree that Nationwide owes anybody an apology.

    Lots of commercials are in poor taste, but “triggering”? Right—domestic abuse commercials can “trigger.” Commercials about cancer can trigger. PTSD commercials can trigger.

    Life is one big trigger, and people who suffer serious losses have a hard time navigating it every day. It’s one more orange cone in a sea of orange cones. People who’ve lost their children could never be right, regardless of this commercial in poor taste.

    There’s a commercial where a woman is repeating all the things she has to do for the day, and then you hear a car skid out of control into a crash. It says something like, “At any moment, life can be cut short.” That’s in less poor taste, but the gist is the same. (Instead of “insure,” I think the message is “sue.”)

    So I’m not going to tell you to lighten up. That would be like telling me to lighten up about grammar. There are far more important things in the world than using the subjunctive mood properly. But to me, it’s just another ad in a cesspool of tastelessness. Frankly, “Februany” is more offensive to me.

    • Kathy K-m

      I agree with you, to an extent. This “trigger warning” business is out of hand. If you don’t want to be “triggered”, stay off the internet, turn off the TV and lock yourself in a dark room, cause it’s always going to be something.
      Public Service Announcements (which this comes close to) are always going to be dealing with something unpleasant. That’s the whole point.
      If I were a parent who lost a child to some preventable tragedy, I’d be GLAD somebody is getting the word out. Many parents of lost children, devote their lives to seeing that it doesn’t happen to anyone else’s child. (MADD is an excellent example)
      I don’t know how anybody can offended by that.

  • Terri Robinson Lemere

    I agree with you wholeheartedly Aliza!!

  • James Wilk

    Nationwide states it wanted to “start a conversation” about “preventable injuries
    in the home.” No, they don’t. If they wanted to start an honest conversation, they would overtly state that nearly one in five injury-related deaths in children and adolescents involve firearms.

    If Nationwide were on your side, they’d stand up to the NRA. But guns are the elephant in the room the insurance company didn’t mention and they are the easiest threat to our children to modify. Accidental deaths from traffic accidents are down, thanks to laws that mandate the design and use of infant and child seats in cars. Accidental drownings are down, thanks to laws that mandate limiting access to swimming pools and hot tubs.

    In contrast, all attempts at reasonable gun restrictions to decrease “preventable injuries in the home” related to firearms are opposed at every step along the way. It’s no wonder that approximately 800 children under 14 were killed in gun accidents from 1999 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and that our rate of accidental death of children from firearms is 11-fold higher than other nations.

    And Nationwide won’t say a word in their creepy commercials.

  • Leizel

    Moments like this reminds me how great is not to live in your country, you muricans really need to get your priorities in life sorted…

  • Literal_Jim

    Apologize?! What are you, 4?! It’s a commercial and it CERTAINLY did its job. You’re talking about Nationwide today, aren’t you?

    • Leslie F. Miller

      Jim, be nice. It’s one thing to disagree, but it’s another to be a condescending boob.

      By the way, Nationwide apologized today.

  • Erica Chao

    Bit.ly/QuietToddler…our story about our toddler who experienced a preventable accident.

  • kesmarn

    It strikes me as part of the larger — and growing — tendency for the Super Bowl to be a gigantic emotional binge. A day on which to over-indulge in everything. From the absurdly faux-serious pre-game hype through the game itself — in which players are photographed like Olympian heroes with majestic music blaring in the background — to increasingly over-the-top half time shows. We gorge on food and drink at home, while our chosen gladiators bash heads and amuse us. We weep over lost puppies and Clydesdales. It’s a day when emotion — and almost nothing but emotion — reigns supreme. A day of intense sentimentality. It’s starting to be indescribably creepy, in fact. So this commercial — as tasteless as it is — is also not surprising. Whoever said that women hold the monopoly on emotional drama has surely never witnessed this bizarre ritual.

  • johnokeefe

    OK, put on your adult cloths… come on, pull up those pants and realize it’s just a freakin’ ad.