Many people were upset that such a somber ad about a child who couldn't grow up to do all the things kids do because he died from a preventable accident was aired during the SuperBowl. They were upset that they were blindsided by an ad that was not funny and that it ruined their "buzz." Many who took offense thought the ad was trying to sell life insurance simply because it was presented by Nationwide, and that doing so by making an ad about a dead child was horribly wrong. They were so shocked that many didn't see the link to the make safe happen website at the end. Or if they did, they probably didn't go to it to see what it was about. Instead of actually taking the time to process the ad and what it's message actually was, instead of going to the Make Safe Happen website to see what it was all about, they took their knee-jerk reaction and assumption that it was solely about selling insurance as gospel and preached it. You know what they say about assuming, right?
Why so Many Missed the Point of the Ad
Unfortunately those people who were upset largely missed the point. Perhaps because the ad elicited such a powerful emotional reaction and one they were ill-equipped to handle. That speaks to an entirely different issue about our discomfort in talking about death, especially death to children, but that is another post for another time.
Nationwide was not trying to sell insurance with that ad. Insurance doesn't save lives. Nationwide is trying to educate. They wanted to inform an audience of millions of parents that preventable accidents are the leading cause of death to children. Knowing what the dangers in and around your home are, knowing what you can do to prevent the accidents that could take your child's life,and being pro-active about doing them to making safe happen is what saves lives.
THAT is what Nationwide was "selling." They are "selling" a free resource for child safety called Make Safe Happen. They are giving you resources to help you protect your kids so you never, ever have to know what bereaved parents like me knows. So that you never have to live with the pain we live with every day because we couldn't protect our kids, because we didn't know or believe that what killed them was a danger or how to prevent it.
I do hope that once their initial shock wears off, those who reacted so strongly and negatively are able to go to the make safe happen website and see what it is all about. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I'm all for free choice, but I am a staunch believer in informed choice. So before you judge a book by it's cover, read the pages inside the book. Visit the website and see what it has to offer. Whether you agree with how it was presented during the Superbowl or not, the information is tremendously valuable for parents everywhere.
For Those Who Think the Ad was "too much" or a "buzzkill" for the SuperBowl
To those who still think the ad was "too much" for the SuperBowl viewing audience or those who complain the ad made them uncomfortable. Consider this. What you felt for those few seconds when you realized that boy in the ad died is exactly how it feels when your child dies suddenly and unexpectedly from a preventable accident. You feel blindsided. You are in shock. You are angry. You are downright furious that your life as you knew and expected it to be was suddenly and unexpectedly "ruined." You may have felt all those things about the very thought of a child dying when you saw this ad. The boy in the ad was one you don't even know! Imagine what it's like to actually be the parent of that boy in the ad. For one minute, just imagine if it were you... does that help you shift your focus? Nationwide does not want you to ever know what it feels like to be the parent of that boy. They want your kids to grow up to live long healthy lives.
Unlike those who were upset by the ad, who complained about it to their friends or took to social media to express their anger that Nationwide ruined their SuperBowl, and then went back to watching the game and resumed their regularly scheduled lives, parents who have lost a child, especially to an accident that could have been prevented, live with that "buzzkill" their entire lives. They never get to resume their life as they knew or wanted it to be. They had to bury their child. They have to learn to live without the most precious thing in the world, their child. They are reminded of their child every day and every where. They are reminded of what they don't have, and you do. They don't want you to know the pain they do. Neither does Nationwide, their partner Safe Kids, or any of their other expert partners in child safety. We want to teach you how to protect your kids so you don't ever have to know what it's like to lose a child to something you could have prevented.
We know that in the time it took that 45 second spot to air, at least one child died from a preventable accident. If you do the math, that's 60 children every hour! In the approximately 4 hours it took for the 4 quarters of the SuperBowl to be played, 12 children were victims of tip-over accidents alone!
So What is Make Safe Happen Really About?
Make Safe Happen is about addressing the fact that preventable accidents are #1 killer of children. Nationwide was starting a conversation that I have been trying to get started for ten years. And it sure did get a conversation started! Sometimes you have to shock people out of complacency to get them to pay attention and to listen to the messages they don't want to hear. Messages they need to hear. Their child's life may literally depend on it.
In a longer PSA, Nationwide explains their Make Safe Happen campaign here. Their ad was a wake up call and parents need to answer it. Nationwide has a long history of commitment to child safety and a 60 year relationship with Nationwide Children's Hospital and their leading child safety expert physicians and researchers at their Center for Injury Research and Policy. Nationwide is not doing this alone. They have also partnered with Safe Kids Worldwide and leading child safety experts in key areas of child safety including myself at Meghan's Hope, The Safety Mom, The Zac Foundation, Parents for Window Blind Safety and The National Drowning Prevention Alliance. Together, we are all committed to making parents aware of potential dangers to their children and teaching them how to prevent them from happening.
The Make Safe Happen website is an interactive and easy to use site that allows you to search for safety information and tips about common and little known dangers in and around the home. You can search by the age of the child, the room of the home, or the safety category such as water safety, poisoning, tip-overs and falls, or outdoor play. You will find statistics, safety checklists, and safety tips. Visit it today. Explore the different ways to search for safety tips. Share it with other parents you know.
There is a also free downloadable app for IOS and Android with a similar interface that also allows you to make a list of things you need to do or buy to make your home safer and is a fantastic reference to have when you are out and about with your child or shopping for child safety devices and supplies. Download it and give it a try!
None of us knows everything. We cannot protect our children from everything, but the things we can protect them from, we should. Accidents can be prevented. Thinking it can't or won't happen to us does not make our kids safer. Learning what we can do to make our homes and our children safer and then doing it, is what makes our kids safer. Together, we can make safe happen!
Disclaimer: While all opinions stated here are my own, I am a paid spokesperson for Nationwide and the Make Safe Happen Campaign and have received financial, material, or other compensation for promoting the Make Safe Happen Campaign.