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Super Bowl XLIX

Nationwide Explains Depressing Super Bowl Ad

Al Roker: Nationwide Super Bowl ad 'ultimate downer' 9:52

Nationwide Insurance's depressing Super Bowl ad generated so much backlash Sunday that the company issued a late-night statement explaining that the spot — which featured a young boy who turns out to be dead — was meant "to start a conversation, not sell insurance."

The ad, which aired in the first half of the New England Patriots' 28-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks, shows the tousle-haired tyke talking about all the life experiences he'll never get to experience because he's dead.

The reaction from social media was immediate and blistering:

Late Sunday after the game, Nationwide issued this statement:

Preventable injuries around the home are the leading cause of childhood deaths in America. Most people don't know that. Nationwide ran an ad during the Super Bowl that started a fierce conversation. 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. 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.

IN-DEPTH

— M. Alex Johnson