Dear Nationwide Insurance,

I tried to see your commercial as a way to bring awareness and prevention to accidental deaths. I tried not to be fearful of the hurt that this commercial would bring to so many families. I tried to push aside my own personal loss and the feelings surrounding it to see some good in your commercial but your commercial failed miserably. What’s even worse, is that you don’t even see your own miserable failure. The message wasn’t received, Nationwide Insurance.

Don’t you think you could have presented the same message in a much different way? A way that wouldn’t have provoked such a strong and emotional response from grieving parents nationwide? Your message exploited dead children everywhere. Children who died for a multitude of reasons including, miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, medical reasons, and accidental deaths.

You claim this was about awareness and not a marketing scheme to sell insurance. You claim that this was all about “Make Safe Happen” (#MakeSafeHappen) and how you want to let American’s know that accidental deaths are the leading cause of death for children in the United States but then you follow up your statement with the fact that thousands of people visited your website for Make Safe Happen.

I was one of those thousands of people. I visited it because I had never heard of it before. I visited your page because I was hoping there would be an apology there since there wasn’t one anywhere else. Your Twitter page thanked those that supported the commercial. Your Facebook page remained silent despite the THOUSANDS of people expressing anger over your commercial.

I didn’t watch the Super Bowl and I normally do just for the commercials, but this year we did not. When my Facebook page began exploding over some “Nationwide ad” I found the video and was appalled by it. Commercials exploit all the time but this form of exploitation was incredulous because so many truly couldn’t believe you presented this.

I serve families who have lost a child and so many of them were hurt by the distasteful way you presented “awareness.” I was disgusted with the way you presented “prevention.” Instead of exploiting a dead child, why didn’t you use the 30 seconds to present your Make Safe Happen campaign and show “near misses?” Oh…because it wouldn’t drum up as much emotion as this exploitation did. You wouldn’t receive as many “hits” to your website and other social media avenues.

There are other ways to present such a topic. As an educator myself, I have to be careful about the way I present topics such as safety during pregnancy and the newborn period. It should be presented without fear mongering tactics like you used. I don’t drive my students into fear so they rush out and purchase a product, which by the way, is life insurance and has NOTHING to do with prevention. Having life insurance will not prevent accidental death. I hope you understand that. The commercial didn’t include a single tip at the end of the commercial regarding HOW it prevents childhood death, by offering in-home inspections. Making that one change would have dramatically changed the response you are seeing.

I have posted about this statement on my own pages, “It was not about bringing awareness, it was about making a sale.” Just admit it! Your commercial made parents feel horrible for the choices they may have made that led to the death of their child but even if their child didn’t die, it brought up the ever increasing fear in our society that children should be kept in plastic bubbles away from anything that may harm them. The world has so much evil in it but keeping kids in bubbles is impossible.

The even larger issue is that you showed this ad during a prime “family-viewing” time. Children saw this ad. Children became fearful of the dangers presented in this ad. Parents were appalled having to comfort and reassure their children. Families shelter their children from violence and nudity on TV but during a time where they shouldn’t have to worry about such issues, Nationwide Insurance sends a scary message to children and parents…childhood isn’t safe.

And finally, I take major issue with your persistence to run the ad. It shows that dogs hold a higher status than children. GoDaddy pulled their commercial because “shortly after [being viewed] a controversy started to swirl about Buddy, our puppy, being sold online. The responses were emotional and direct. Many people urged us not to run the ad.” WOW! All that emotion over a dog got a commercial pulled but children? Nope, you chose to exploit them all the way!

You, Nationwide Insurance, have a controversy on your hands but instead, blame families who are upset over the commercial and shove it in their faces that you don’t really care about their feelings at all. If you had said this, “We are sorry that so many have taken offense to the ad,” (or something like that) instead of “While some did not care for the ad…”, I personally would have retracted my claws.

It’s not about a matter of “caring” for the ad or not. This is about the distasteful way it was presented. Statements like that just show feelings didn’t matter. I get it, you can’t make everyone happy but at least apologize for disregarding the thousands (if not millions) of families you hurt so deeply. Don’t just tell people, “It was meant to be jarring,” and walk away.


Elizabeth Petrucelli

I truly hope that families boycott Nationwide Insurance by dumping your policies and switching to other carriers. If any of my readers would like to switch, I have some great resources for you that don’t involve Nationwide Insurance, who are clearly Not On Your Side.