UnNews:Advertiser ruins Super Bowl XLIX

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Advertiser ruins Super Bowl XLIX

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4 February 2015

Nationwide logo

"Nationwide is on your side," the advertiser sang to a national audience that was famously divided between the two sides.

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire -- An advertiser took the unprecedented step of ruining Super Bowl XLIX with a preachy commecial.

Nationwide Insurance invited viewers to live the life of a promising, wide-eyed, young Dondi look-alike, until blurting out that the child died in a preventable household accident. Editorial writers across America were outraged. "Scolding has no place except on the printed page," wrote the Union-Leader in this small city. Other editors lamented the moralizing that spoiled a fun-filled evening of brute violence by players grabbing their own crotches to taunt one another. The editors stressed that the game was a vital interlude between slapping girlfriends unconscious, fatally shooting "snitches," and whipping four-year-old children.

It was unclear what the original advertisement sought to have the viewer do: perhaps either think more highly of the insurance company or bathe children without putting water in the bathtub.

A.C. Nielsen's focus groups of couch potatoes gave the commercial their second highest rating. Most memorable was the ad that suggested it was okay to abandon your son for decades, provided you finally return in a bright red Nissan muscle car. Trailing just behind was the soap opera for suds in which horses save dogs from wolves. As though that happens, no matter how many Budweisers one drinks.

Other ads made the point that Americans should resume drinking Coke and going to McDonald's mostly to prove they are not haters. McDonald's even promised certain lucky customers free food provided they let the chain shame them into kissing some other patron on the lips. Like the Budweiser ad, these ads obeyed NFL rules that Super Bowl commercials must make no positive statement about the product advertised. The Nationwide ad, though preachy, got past the NFL censors because it made no assertion that, if Junior did drown in the bathtub, the company would actually pay off the policyholder rather than send a team of lawyers to nitpick and perhaps have the other children seized and sent to group homes. But an ad for gun safety was rejected for the second straight year because it did not beat around the bush. Accused murderer Aaron Hernandez, formerly of the victorious New England Patriots, was to further scold the viewer not to get clever and merely shoot at an arm or leg.

The Union-Leader editorial, which compared the Nationwide ad to "having a door-to-door salesman show up to hawk child-sized coffins during a 6-year-old’s birthday party," concluded that it was wrong to use a football game to moralize, and that advertisers should get back to basics and "Sell! Sell! Sell!" The editors stressed that their own paper would never accept a moralizing advertisement, with the possible exception of a case where payment was offered.

In the previous Super Bowl, which would be XLIIX, Radio Shack had spent two-thirds of its most recent emergency infusion of venture-capital cash making the football audience reminisce about the heady 1970's. Sadly for the company, a few of whose stores Sprint may save from the wrecking ball, the viewing public remained on its collective couch upon its collective butt, fast-forwarding past the commercial breaks and ordering gadgets from amazon.com.

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