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Nationwide Insurance has been getting some flak for its super-depressing Super Bowl ad about a child’s death, and now the company is telling its side of the story.

“We were not trying to sell insurance with this ad,” says Nationwide CMO Matt Jauchius. “We were trying to save kids’ lives by making people aware of this.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), accidents are the number one cause of death for children, and Jauchius says that’s been true since the 1950s. In fact, he said, if you average the number of children who die in accidents per year (9,000), it comes out to about one per hour. That means that over the course of the Super Bowl, four children could have been killed by preventable accidents.

Jauchius notes that there is no insurance policy explicitly advertised in the spot. Instead, the ad was designed to promote the company’s Make Safe Happen program, which raises awareness about preventable accidents and offers tools to help parents make their homes safer (like checklists organized by age, or room in the home.)

But what about criticism that the ad’s tone was too depressing for Super Bowl Sunday? Jauchius disagrees, citing ads about cyberbullying and domestic violence that also ran during the game. Plus, he notes, what better time to raise awareness than when millions of Americans are tuned in at the same time?

“Some people would say that the Super Bowl is not the place for these kinds of ads that are trying to do social good,” he says. “But if all of this saves one kid’s life, it’s more than worth it.”

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Write to Charlotte Alter at

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