I’m sitting on the couch right now, snuggled up with my cat and my son. I’m watching the snow fall outside. Blanketing the ground in peaceful, pure, white snow. You know what I’m thinking? I’m wishing his twin sister was sitting here with us. But she’s not. You know why? Because she died from a preventable accident ten years ago, when she was three. I buried her three days before Christmas because I didn't know or even believe a small dresser like hers could fall and kill her. But it did. Had I known the dangers and how to prevent it, she might be sitting her with us today.
Yes, I've lost a child to a preventable accident. Yes, the Nationwide ad made me cry. Yes, it was a “buzzkill”. It was probably a huge trigger to bereaved parents, especially those who have lost young children, especially those who lost children to an accident. Anything that reminds a bereaved parent of their pain is. It blindsided people, on purpose. That’s exactly what happens when a child dies from a preventable accident, too. One minute your child is fine and then, without warning, they are dead. Trust me, I know. It happened to at least one parent while they were watching the SuperBowl yesterday.
The Nationwide SuperBowl ad was also brilliant. Why? It was raw, real, honest, and absolute truth. It was creative and emotional. It started a conversation. One no one wants to have. Yet it’s one everyone should have. One everyone needs to have. It hit at the fear of every parent; that their child could die. It made millions of people aware not only that preventable accidents are the #1 cause of death to children, but gave them a place to find information so they can prevent those accidents and protect their children.
In the time that commercial aired, at least one child died from a preventable accident. That's 60 children that die every single hour! In the time it took you to watch the entire SuperBowl, At least 12 children (3 every hour) were victims of a furniture or TV tip-over alone! At least 240 children died around the world from accidents that could have been prevented! All while millions "escaped" their problems and watched a game on TV. Many were upset their good time was interrupted by such a dark and depressing ad. Really. They were upset Nationwide was trying to save the lives of children by using the largest audience of the year on National television.
Were you among the people who took offense to the ad? Why?
Because it was “inappropriate”? Do you not find the blatant promotion of alcohol, sex, and violence on TV and advertised during the SuperBowl also inappropriate?
Because it was a “downer?” Because it made you sad or cry? Because it was about an adorable child that died and that made you uncomfortable? A child just like mine, or perhaps, just like yours?
Because you had to explain to your children why that child died? Have they ever watched a Disney movie? Did you not see the teachable moment there to explain that going into water alone, playing in front of a TV, or eating things that are not food could be dangerous or even deadly? Death is everywhere, it happens to everyone - eventually, and that conversation needs to happen. No one is invincible. Were you upset because it made you afraid something could happen to your child? Don't get mad, get smart. Be pro-active.
Did the ad stir up some sort of emotion in you? Good. That was the point. To get your attention. To make you stop and think. To educate you.
People need to get their heads out of the sand! Ignorance is not bliss. Nor does it protect anyone! Preventable accidents happen for two reasons, either because parents don’t know of the dangers, or worse, they do know and don’t believe that “it” can happen to their child, so they do nothing to prevent those accidents. It can happen to your child. It doesn't matter what "it" is, who you are, where you live, or how good of a parent you think you are. No one is immune. No one.
Accidents happen, but they are ALL preventable. Why wouldn't you want to do everything you can to prevent them and to protect your child? If you already have, thank you. This ad was aimed at those who don’t know or don’t believe their child could be at risk. Unfortunately, a recent study revealed that most parents think they are doing everything they can to make their homes safe, yet they are still unaware of many of the very things that are killing children in the home like tip-overs, strangulation, drowning, and poisoning, all of which can be easily prevented.
Are you angry that the ad hit you in the gut? Perhaps you had that pissed off feeling that the ad “ruined” the warm, fuzzy, and funny SuperBowl commercial experience for you? It killed your feel-good buzz? Think about this: that’s how it feels to bury a child who died from a preventable accident, only a thousand times worse, and then you have to carry that pain with you for the rest of your life. 240 parents had that feeling too while you watched the Superbowl, only it was because their kids actually did die from a preventable accident.
Lucky for you, your warm fuzzies returned with the next ads. You complained about it, perhaps tweeted your disgust and went back to your regular life. For parents who have lost their children to a preventable accident, nothing is ever the same again. Nothing.
Think about that. Imagine for a moment what it might be like if your child unexpectedly died today. Now think about how you’d feel if you could have prevented it. Do you get it now?
It’s not surprising the ad had so many negative reviews and comments. It brought up a subject no one ever wants to talk about – death to children. I can assure you that no parent that lost their child for ANY reason ever thought it would happen to them. I sure as hell didn't. Yet if any of us could have had information that might have saved our child’s life, we’d have given anything to know how we could have prevented our child’s death BEFORE they died!
Nationwide’s ad didn't stop with the message that preventable accidents are the #1 cause of death to children. It began there. They have also created a free website at www.makesafehappen.com and a free interactive app for both IOS and Android so parents can learn about these accidents and how to prevent them.
Unfortunately, far too many people missed this valuable information. Why? Because thousands of people used the emotion the ad stirred up in them and jumped to a conclusion without having all the facts, without actually visiting the www.makesafehappen.com website. They may have been so shocked by the message of the ad that they did not see the link to the website at the end of the ad. They assumed because Nationwide is an insurance company that they were trying to use the preventable death of children to sell insurance! Nothing could be further from the truth. It does however speak to a different social problem we have, the one where misunderstandings are taken as truth and facts are not checked. Shame on those who were reactive and formed an opinion before having the facts.
Think about this. Had that ad been sponsored by Safe Kids or Meghan’s Hope, anyone other than Nationwide, would you have come to a different conclusion? Would you have been more likely to go to the website and pay attention to the message of the ad? I’m curious.
Nationwide has a long history of advocating for child safety. In fact they published a brochure on child safety in 1954 titled “Your Child’s Safety.” They have a 60-year partnership with Nationwide Children’s Hospital. They have partnered with Safe Kids Worldwide on the Make Safe Happen Campaign as well as with other child safety advocates like myself and Meghan’s Hope. There is a longer PSA about Make Safe Happen. It was too long for the SuperBowl, but it explains the program in greater depth. I encourage you to watch it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JoELI1h7nM
Do you want to learn what hazards may lurk in your home and how to prevent them from injuring or killing your child? Then go to www.makesafehappen.com and educate yourself. Download the app. Let's Make Safe Happen.
Maybe if everyone does, every child will be able to get cooties, learn to fly, and get married. I sure as hell wish my Meggie could have…
Disclaimer: Meghan’s Hope and Nationwide are partners in the Make Safe Happen campaign. While all opinions expressed here are my own, I have received compensation from Nationwide for promotion of their Make Safe Happen campaign materially or financially.