In a letter sent today to Nationwide CEO Jerry Jurgensen, the restaurant association's president-CEO, Steve C. Anderson, complains that the company's Super Bowl ad -- featuring Mr. Federline in various rap-video cliches, but in fact daydreaming while making fries at a fast-food restaurant as his manager yells at him to get to work -- denigrates restaurant workers.
"We hope that these reports are inaccurate and that Nationwide will not be airing an ad that would give the impression that working in a restaurant is demeaning and unpleasant. An ad such as this would be a strong and a direct insult to the 12.8 million Americans who work in the restaurant industry," Mr. Anderson writes.
"Developing creative concepts that accomplish the marketing strategies for a product should not require denigrating another industry. Should an ad of this nature run during the Super Bowl, we will make sure that our membership -- many of whom are customers of Nationwide -- know the negative implications this ad portrays of the restaurant industry," the letter continues.
Mr. Anderson also described the restaurant and food service industry as the "cornerstone of our economy."
"While we understand the perspective of the National Restaurant Association, please recognize this Super Bowl advertisement is a humorous take on one person's life," said Eric Hardgrove, a spokesman for Nationwide. "The intent of the ad isn't to offend or insult the many fine individuals who work in the restaurant industry. The focus of the ad is the element of surprise, not the setting of a fast-food restaurant."
Nationwide's Super Bowl ad, done by TM Advertising, Dallas, is part of the insurer's "Life Comes at You Campaign" and is the company's second entrance into the Super Bowl. A year ago Nationwide's ad featured Fabio.
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Read Bob Garfield's take on the National Restaurant Association's reaction to Nationwide's Super Bowl ad at Garfield: The Blog