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Super Bowl Watchers Register Shock Over Nationwide Commercial

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

For a lot of people, the Super Bowl is all about the ads. And usually, it's funny ads that get people talking, but this year, it was something completely different - not necessarily in a good way. It was a Nationwide commercial that dramatized the death of a child from an accident at home.

(SOUNDBITE OF NATIONWIDE SUPER BOWL AD)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) I'll never learn to fly or travel the world with my best friend. And I won't ever get married. I couldn't grow up because I died from an accident.

GREENE: A lot the reaction online was negative. Some parents who've lost children talked about anguish that was stirred up when they saw the ad. Other people say it was just out of place and in poor taste, even capitalizing on parents' worst fears. So we reached the chief marketing officer for Nationwide, Matt Jauchius, to explain what was behind this.

MATT JAUCHIUS: The number-one cause of death to children 60 years ago was preventable accidents. Approximately half occur in the home. We have been working on this cause ever since then.

GREENE: Jauchius says their creative focus was actually about striking the right balance.

JAUCHIUS: We wanted to stage an intervention to start a conversation. And we knew that if the creative went too far, it would shut people down, and there would be no conversation. And we did not do that. But on the other hand, if we were too light, and we didn't come out strong enough in the Super Bowl, it might not make anyone talk about things.

GREENE: Jauchius says the ad promotes Nationwide's tools to help prevent accidental deaths in the home. It wasn't directly about selling insurance. Now, what about placing it on the biggest television stage of the year?

JAUCHIUS: If we save one child as a result of what we did in the Super Bowl, it is more than worth it.

GREENE: Well, one thing is for sure - that ad certainly got a whole lot of attention. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.