Nationwide Turns to Social Media to Mitigate its Super Bowl Disaster

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 10.59.10 AMI’m pretty sure everyone agrees that Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is the biggest loser of Super Bowl XLIX. With just one shockingly bad play call, Carroll went from G.O.A.T. to goat.

But many people are pointing to insurance provider Nationwide as the second-biggest loser of Sunday’s Super Bowl. Its depressing Super Bowl ad aired in the first quarter of the game, and it was widely – and immediately – ripped to shreds. A decade ago, you had to wait for tomorrow’s newspaper to see how people responded. But Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms give advertisers real-time feedback – and allow viewer opinions to quickly go viral.

Fortunately for Nationwide, its social media and public relations team quickly came to the rescue of its focus group-challenged advertising team. Within an hour of the ad airing, Nationwide released a statement online explaining the ad and took to social media to join the conversation. The company noted in part:

“Preventable injuries around the home are the leading cause of childhood deaths in America. Most people don’t know that. … 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.”

The good news for Nationwide was that its quick reaction allowed it to be part of the conversation. And by addressing the issue in real-time, it was able to influence much of the media coverage that followed on Monday. Almost all media coverage of the ad included the company’s explanation of why it aired the ad.

Nationwide will take its lumps for the ill-advised ad, and it should, but a quick-thinking and quick-acting public relations team helped mitigate the damage. Nationwide benefitted greatly by having a plan and process in place to quickly engage in the online conversation.

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