Viewers who watched the Super Bowl mainly for the ads may have found this year a more somber affair than usual, with multiple advertisers stressing serious themes. But a Nationwide ad on preventable childhood death may have gone too far, if the backlash on Twitter is anything to go by, the New York Daily News reports. The "Make Safe Happen" ad shows a boy lamenting that he would never get married, travel, or even learn to ride a bike because he had died in a preventable accident—possibly one involving the cleaning chemicals, overflowing bathtub, or fallen TV the ad then shows. "In their next ad, Nationwide is going to shoot the Budweiser dog," quipped one commentator.
After the backlash, Nationwide issued a late-night statement saying the ad was meant to "start a conversation, not sell insurance," reports NBC. The Nationwide ad was just one among many serious ads, with a Microsoft ad telling the tale of a boy who lives with prosthetic legs developed by the company, and a Coca-Cola ad focusing on online bullying, the AP reports. "The Super Bowl reflects what's happening in the country," says a marketing professor at Northwestern University. "Maybe in the country today we're a little more reflective and a little more pensive."