Millions of families across America spent Sunday evening in front of their TV’s in anticipation of the Super Bowl. Many tune in for football, while others tune in just for the halftime show and the commercials. One Super Bowl commercial getting a lot of attention is the Nationwide Make Safe Happen commercial. In the segment, a young boy explains how he won’t be able to grow up because of an accident that happened in his youth. Some are calling this the “Worst Super Bowl ad ever” and blaming the ad for putting a damper on an evening that is supposed to be filled with intense competition, musical performances, and commercials you actually want to watch.
Here at KID we have a different take on the ad. Nationwide took the opportunity to address the issue of preventable injuries to the largest TV audience of the year and reminded us that the number one cause of childhood death is something that is, to a certain degree, preventable. KID works everyday with families for whom this is a tragic reality – children killed by unsafe products including dangerous cribs, falling furniture and more. When the ad shows different dangerous situations in the home (a full bathtub, an open cabinet under the sink, a TV that has tipped over) instead of being fearful or depressed, we can take the opportunity to assess the hazards within our own home, refer to reliable resources such as KidsInDanger.org or SafeKids.org (Nationwide’s nonprofit partner in the campaign in addition to safety experts at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital) that can give us the information we need, and make informed decisions regarding the safety in our own homes.
Because the truth is that we can all work together to make our homes safer for the children that live, visit, and play in them. Many people assume that these horrific scenes will never happen in their own homes but the sad truth is that these scenes are happening and they are happening too often. The good news is that we can each take steps to reduce childhood injury. While it may have been upsetting to be confronted during the Super Bowl with these scenarios, and Nationwide may have done better at focusing on their MakeSafeHappen resources, we as a country do need to address the epidemic of childhood injury.
The responsibility doesn’t lie on parents and caregivers alone. Organizations like KID hold manufacturers and retailers responsible for designing safer products and doing more to get unsafe or recalled products out of homes and child care. Through stronger standards, better oversight, strong recall efforts and programs such as the Toys”R”US Great Trade In event which gives incentives to remove older, unsafe products; progress is being made but it is undeniable that there is still work to be done. We need to encourage, rather than penalize, efforts that help spread the word about child safety and encourage action. These shifts can add up to monumental changes and, more importantly, keep our most vulnerable population, children, safe.
Our hearts go out to families who have lost children from dangerous products – our work is the legacy of these children – keeping other families safe.
I think it is a matter of perspective. I can understand that, given the mission of your organization, you would see the ad from that perspective and I applaud you for trying to keep kids safe. But an entire other community -- the pregnancy and infant loss community - the message they "heard" was totally different. Through no fault of their own, they lost their precious children to stillbirth, SIDS and other totally unexpected losses. Each day they live with the reality of milestones not reached and ache with that realization. So to them, that commercial was like twisting the knife into their guts one more time. It would have been nice if those families would be considered before such an ad is ever run again.
Only those who have experienced the loss of a child through unsafe baby products can completely understand what a wonderful advertisement this was and how many little lives may be saved because of it. Damper? It's good news. Not everyone has heard it yet.
Let me begin by stating that KID is near and dear to my heart, and I am a strong advocate and support of their mission. But as a bereaved parent who lost a child in at-home accident due to a dangerous children’s product, I was not ok with Nationwide's advertisement. Here's why:
1. Money. Bottom line, Nationwide is selling a product AND advertising it. This was NOT a public service announcement. An insurance company makes money by playing on people’s fears, and that’s just what they were doing. Their commercial infers that we should trust our “property” with them. How else is Nationwide going to help me other than cover to cover my home – or this inferred case-my child’s life insurance at a cheap(er) premium. One could even further infer that by protecting our children, we then protect Nationwide’s assets – if your child dies, we lose money. After all, isn’t this why the Superbowl commercial spots are so coveted? Want to sell your product – pay a good price to get airtime during the Superbowl – marketing’s own championship game. So, you might ask what about the domestic violence ad? Take a look – it IS a PSA – a Public Service Announcement.
2. Talk to just about every bereaved parent and they will tell you that whether their child was on the other side of the world when he/she died, whether illness was cause or drunk driver – GUILT plagues us for the rest of our lives. It doesn’t matter what any therapist says or grief book explains away – we bereaved parents (at least all those I’ve ever met) carry some feeling of guilt in not protecting our children. This commercial reached in a ripped at the scars we try to heal every day. Nationwide told bereaved parents it’s our fault our children died under our roof, under our watch.
3. If this message was about keeping children safe, it puts all the blame on parents, and NOT on the manufacturers of products used in our homes. There is no mention of the role and responsibility of children’s product companies – or other companies…the stove that misignites, the cord that overheats to flames.
4. Timing. No – the Superbowl is not a good time to get deep messages across. The domestic violence PSA – it fit because of all the attention drawn to it based on recent NFL players who were abusers. It made sense. Not one that caught people so off-guard it scared kids and upset parents – bereaved parents, especially. The truth is, I think a commercial such as this one would be far more effective in a different arena.. prime time TV, the Ellen Show, HGTV…something more geared towards parents. Know what else would earn my respect? Highlight the non-profits, with Progressive in the fine print – not the other way around.
5. Ethics. Bottom line, it was a low blow marketing tactic. Don’t use my child’s accident or death to play on the fears of others just to sell a product.
I’m not saying awareness isn’t important – but I am saying there is a time and a place and an ethical way to do it.
As a mom of two teenage daughters who died as a result of a potentially-preventable truck crash (through no fault of their own), the Nationwide commercial triggered memories of many grieving moments when I realize all of the things that AnnaLeah and Mary will never do again–or never do at all.
I appreciate the effort that Nationwide made to draw attention to preventable deaths and catalyze a nation-wide conversation about safety. We will never completely stop all “accidental” deaths. But raising awareness can help to save one life at a time.
Here’s our story and my thoughts on MakeSafeHappen: http://youtu.be/mwdfYzNowtQ http://annaleahmary.com/
Thank you, Nationwide, for this conversation-starter. I would have produced & aired a commercial like that about truck safety (and the need for improved underride guards) if I had had the resources. It was a brilliant move!
This is the right perspective to have. What is wrong with everyone else?