It's true that Nationwide committed a serious faux pas by depicting a dead child in their marketing ad, and then airing it during the Super Bowl. Although it justifiably elicited an outcry from grievers around the world, don't hate Nationwide. Unfortunately, they are just a sad victim of the grief illiterate society we live in.
Yes, with today's advanced technology backed by millions of dollars set aside for marketing campaigns, one would think the Nationwide team would have chosen a different strategy for getting their message across. So this morning I put on my professional Executive Director of the National Grief & Hope Convention voice and put in a call to VP & Chief Customer Advocate Jasmine Green.
First, I must share that Ms. Green is truly a lovely lady who sadly understands grief firsthand. Second, I didn't call to chide Nationwide for their poor choice in marketing campaigns. My phone call was purposeful and straight to the point: would Nationwide join us at the upcoming National Grief & Hope Convention to help raise grief literacy? If world leaders such as Bernice King feel moved to help educate the public by sharing grief journeys on our stage, my hope is that Nationwide would right a wrong by at least attending the convention to help improve its own corporate grief literacy.
In our phone conversation, Ms. Green clarified that their mission was to raise awareness about child safety and accident prevention, and thus they stand by their choice to air such a controversial ad. But in doing so, they touched on a very raw nerve by those grieving the loss of a child who couldn't be saved.
Whether Nationwide will join us at the convention remains to be seen (Ms. Green assured me that my invitation would cross the desk of the CMO). Whether they accept my offer or not, one unexpected benefit of such a gauche ad is that it unintentionally sheds light on just how delicate and complex the grief journey is. And that could very well be the beginning of improved grief literacy. Thanks Nationwide. I'm on your side.