Serious Issues,  Writer

On Super Bowl Ads and Children Dying

By 7 this morning (morning after Super Bowl 49), I have already had 6 inquiries into what I thought about the Nationwide “Make Safe Happen” ad. The ad features a beautiful young boy who can’t grow up to get cooties, learn to ride a bike, or learn to fly because he died. He couldn’t grow up because he died from an accident.

As much of a football fan as I am, oddly I didn’t see the game. My cable went out 5 minutes into the game and I was stuck watching BrandBowl on Twitter. I saw the initial shock, the subsequent disgust and anger, and then watched it turn into a “my snarky dead child joke is better than yours” contest. I have a pretty dark sense of humor, so I laughed. Yes, I have a dead child and I laughed. Because sometimes that’s how you have to deal.

If you haven’t seen the commercial, will you take a minute to watch it?

You can find it here.

I think the ad is brilliant.

As a Super Bowl ad? Not so much. But only because the excitement of the Super Bowl is palpable and an ad like this is really a downer.

But as an ad and part of a larger campaign? It works. And it made you talk. It made you think about the fact that children die.

As a mother who has watched her child’s way-too-small casket being lowered into the ground–not from an accident but from an infection– I want you to think about that. I want you to realize that accidents happen and children die. It happens. It always has. And no matter how many campaigns, vaccines, cures, helmets, seatbelts and laws we have, it ALWAYS WILL. Unfortunately, we will never stop death from happening — even the death of children.

The Nationwide commercial made you sad and uncomfortable and probably even made you cry. You didn’t like it because you were enjoying your beer, having a fun time with friends, cheering for the best team to win. It brought you down. And yeah, that sucks.

That’s how grief is, though. It’s what parents who have seen their beautiful child’s first and last breaths feels every day. Each moment filled with ecstasy is a segue to a moment of sheer disbelief that this is their life now. A life where their child won’t learn to ride a bike or get cooties. It doesn’t matter the cause, when a child dies, it’s a buzzkill. Just like the ad.

When I watched the video this morning, I also watched the 2 minute Nationwide Make Safe Happen Program Video. It’s a longer version of the ad and really gets to the heart of what Nationwide is trying to do. They want to help you keep your family safe.

I guess the answer to the questions I’ve gotten his morning is simple: As a Super Bowl ad, Make Safe Happen was a buzzkill. But it made you talk. And that? May just allow more children to get cooties and learn to fly. Isn’t that worth it? .