Better Than Dead Children

Better Than Dead Children


The best that can be said for this ad is that it is better than the other Nationwide Super Bowl ad that associates Nationwide Insurance with dead children.

Ads speak to their prospective customers either directly or indirectly.  When speaking directly, the ad tells prospective customers what they can expect or how they will feel if they do business with Nationwide.  When speaking indirectly, the ad causes prospective customers to infer what they can expect or how it would feel to do business with Nationwide.  When ads speak indirectly, prospective customers, in effect, ask themselves “What sort of company would make an ad like this?” and draw inferences on that basis.

This ad tries to speak to prospective customers indirectly.  But it fails.

This ad tells a story about Mindy Kaling coming to believe she is invisible and then acting as if she were invisible.  The visuals should be able to set up this premise, but they can’t and viewers have to be told by an announcer that Mindy has come to believe she is invisible.    Then Mindy, thinking she is invisible, acts as an invisible person would.  The main thing Mindy does, thinking she is invisible, is walk on foot through a car wash.  Why would an invisible person want to walk through a car wash?  No reason.  Finally Mindy, still thinking she is invisible, tries to kiss Matt Damon while he is dining in a restaurant.  He balks and Mindy realizes she is not invisible after all.

In this ad, Nationwide tells prospective customers a joke.  The joke isn’t funny and doesn’t even make much sense.  When viewers ask themselves “What sort of company would make an ad like this?”, the likely answer is “A company that knows I like jokes, especially on the Super Bowl, but a company that can’t tell a joke, a company that thinks something is funny when it’s not funny and is not even coherent.”

Looking at the ad not as a viewer but as a strategist, Nationwide is probably trying to tell prospective customers that, at Nationwide, they will never feel invisible.  Viewers would have to work hard to get that message from the ad and no one will work that hard.

At least the ad doesn’t associate Nationwide with dead children.  But it does associate Nationwide with an unfunny, incoherent joke.

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