​Nationwide defends Super Bowl ad about child deaths

Of all the Super Bowl ads which debuted during last night's broadcast of the NFL championship game, perhaps none engendered a louder reaction from viewers than an insurance commercial about dead children.

In the ad for Nationwide, titled "Make Safe Happen," a young boy narrates the many things in life he would not experience, such as learning to ride a bike, sailing the world with his dog companion, getting kooties from a girl's kiss, or even getting married.

"I couldn't grow up," he intones, "because I died from an accident."

We then see a series of scenes of household accidents -- an overflowing bathtub, a fallen and smashed giant TV screen, loose detergent pods -- while we are informed that preventable accidents are the number one cause of childhood deaths.

You can watch the commercial by clicking on the video embed below.

The commercial also promoted a website, makesafehappen.com, to promote household safety and other tips for parents and kids.

The reaction on the Internet was swift, and decidedly critical, if not snarky:

In a press statement, the Columbus, Ohio-based company defended its ad, stating its intent was to inform the public about the prevalence of preventable accidents.

"The sole purpose of this message was to start a conversation, not sell insurance. We want to build awareness of an issue that is near and dear to all of us -- the safety and well-being of our children," the statement said.

"We knew the ad would spur a variety of reactions. In fact, thousands of people visited MakeSafeHappen.com, a new website to help educate parents and caregivers with information and resources in an effort to make their homes safer and avoid a potential injury or death. Nationwide has been working with experts for more than 60 years to make homes safer.

"While some did not care for the ad, we hope it served to begin a dialogue to make safe happen for children everywhere."

There were some positive comments online, praising the ad's message, and acknowledging that, if the first goal of an admaker is to have their work talked about, Nationwide's commercial was a success:

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