Nationwide hadn't advertised in the Super Bowl since a 2007 entry starring Kevin Federline that was criticized by the National Restaurant Association ("Rollin' Vip"), but returned in 2015 with a pair of spots -- one of which promptly made the 2007 dust-up look like a tea party.
"Boy," via Ogilvy & Mather, was created to raise awareness around household safety. Thousands of people responded to its urging to visit MakeSafeHappen.com, a website to help educate parents and caregivers on how to make their homes safer to avoid potential injury or death, and hundreds downloaded an accompanying app. "The creative hit the balance of being strong enough to get attention but not shut people down," the Nationwide CMO Matthew Jauchius said.
But the ad was attacked for intoducing a morbid theme to the festive atmosphere, and became the most-remembered example of a batch of ads that made Super Bowl XLIX the "somber bowl" to some.
Mr. Jauchius disagreed with those who said the Super Bowl isn't the place for serious messaging. "The Super Bowl is the biggest venue in the country and is precisely the place to start a conversation," he told Ad Age.
Nationwide's other ad in Super Bowl XLIX, "Invisible," provided comedic relief, but "Boy" was more remembered. Nationwide decided to sit out Super Bowl 50 a year later.Send credit info to [email protected].