Yes, insurance company NationWide did bring up a dead child at the Superbowl, one of the biggest events in sports and entertainment. In their ad spot, we see an adorable little boy narrating all the things he will never do because.. he is dead. He died from a household accident, so #MakeSafeHappen. Grim. The aim was to raise awareness about preventable accidents.
It was one of the most talked about spots on social media, a close second to #LikeAGirl which was a much more feel-good ad for female product Always. The brand addressed the perception little girls have of their gender growing up and encouraged making it more positive.
Both advertisements, a dark one and a strong empowerment one, generated near the same amount of social chatter despite the social sentiment behind each being at polar opposites. NationWide received a landslide of negativity for being morbid and out of place while Always received mainly positive feedback.
The two strongly illustrate the value of social media insights. #MakeSafeHappen and #LikeAGirl stand to prove that there is a lot more to digital marketing than clicks, mention rates and followers. There is a big “what is being said” that is just as important because without it Always and NationWide would seem to have received similar feedback.
While many have labelled NationWide’s ad a wide scale hit-and-miss, I would argue that at least their point has been made loud and clear, although definitely with bad timing. Their objective to raise awareness about harmful household accidents and how to avoid them was met. No one is about to forget the dead child from NationWide any time soon.
In the bigger picture, the advertisements this year seem to have traded humor for more sentimental campaigns. A predominant theme was fatherhood, some of the top tear-jerker spots below: