Nationwide’s Child Safety Awareness Ad Was Supposed To Harsh Your Super Bowl Buzz

Forget laughs and celebrities, the brand wanted to stage an intervention.

In January, Nationwide launched its new “Make Safe Happen” campaign that centred around its new home safety app. The brand wanted to raise awareness of the fact that preventable accidents are still the top cause of death for children under 12 in the U.S., and yet, recent research from Nationwide found only one-third (37%) of parents believed they need to do a better job of keeping their children safe.


This is the first year back to the Super Bowl for the insurance brand after an eight-year hiatus, and chief marketing officer Matt Jauchius says the combination of the big game audience and the importance of the issue were too powerful a combination to pass up.

“Since 2007 we’ve made use of other media partners to get our message across, but when we were thinking of launching Make Safe Happen, creating awareness, and showcasing our brand, the Super Bowl is a great media platform to achieve those goals,” says Jauchius. “It’s singular in its size, the pinnacle of live TV, and so many people watching to actually see the commercials, so it’s a great place to re-invigorate this cause for us, launch the campaign and make more than 100 million aware of the issue and the app.”

The brand has a more general, funnier spot starring Mindy Kaling running in the game, but the Make Safe Happen spot, by contrast, is a dark, somber bummer of an ad. And that rotten feeling you got seeing it was intentional.

“The purpose of the ad is to, in a way, stage an intervention on this issue,” says Jauchius. “We’re serious about it and we wanted the ad to reflect that. The question was, what level of intervention did we want to stage? If you go funny or lighthearted with this topic, it might offend people, but beyond that it might not be effective in breaking through and creating awareness of this problem. We chose a more serious tone precisely because it will be so different than most commercials during the Super Bowl. We went that way to create awareness in consumers’ minds that this is the number one killer of children in the US. Most people don’t know that.”

You know what people don’t expect to think about during the Super Bowl? A dead kid talking from beyond the grave. “It’s a hard thing to talk about,” says Jauchius. “But it’s an even harder thing to have happen, so we wanted to make a serious and appropriate ad.”


About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.