February 2, 2015 9:29 am
Updated: February 2, 2015 10:38 am

Viewers call offside on Nationwide ‘dead boy’ Super Bowl commercial


ABOVE: Nationwide Insurance’s Super Bowl commercial sparked reaction online.

TORONTO — U.S. insurance company Nationwide was labelled a “buzzkill” on social media on Sunday after its commercial aired during the first half of the Super Bowl.

The spot shows a young boy listing the things he will never get to experience and enjoy — because he’s dead.

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“It’s incredibly effective for sure because it grabs you and you’re going to talk about it and think about it,” marketing expert Tony Chapman said Monday on Global Toronto’s The Morning Show.

But, he added, “a lot of people are going to be very angry that you put that on in the middle of a Super Bowl game when you’re there for entertainment. It just takes the oxygen out of the room.”

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Nationwide’s commercial sparked nationwide outrage on Twitter, with some people going so far as to demand a boycott of the company.

Late Sunday, the company issued a statement to NBC News in which it said the goal of the commercial was to get people talking about safety.

“Preventable injuries around the home are the leading cause of childhood deaths in America. Most people don’t know that. Nationwide ran an ad during the Super Bowl that started a fierce conversation,” read the 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. We knew the ad would spur a variety of reactions.”

Nationwide said the ad was effective because “thousands of people” clicked on MakeSafeHappen.com, which is promoted in the spot. The commercial has been viewed more than 1.3 million times in its first 24 hours online.

“While some did not care for the ad, we hope it served to begin a dialogue to make safe happen for children everywhere.”

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