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    Frame Rate: Why the Nationwide ad works

    You may not have liked this commercial. The Super Bowl Nationwide ad about the kid who passed away in an accident is a great example of good film making. This is nothing about whether I liked the ad or not, it’s simply the fact that it was well made. This is a critique based on the ad’s quality.

    Emily Ladd's blog "Frame Rate" covers many film and TV topics.
    [/media-credit] Emily Ladd’s blog “Frame Rate” covers many film and TV topics.
    For those of you watching the Super Bowl, you probably saw it. Jokes about it flew on Twitter throughout the game as well as complaints about it being depressing and a downer of an ad.

    It follows a kid, telling us he won’t learn to ride his bike; he won’t get cooties. He won’t get married or a whole list of things, because he died in an accident. It is a big downer. It has all this build up tension, and a release that makes your heart sink down to your toes and puts a knot in your stomach.

    It’s 48 seconds long yet packs a terribly strong emotional punch. It’s like a one minute short film (but I guess that is what commercials are).

    It reels you in. Look at that adorable kid and his dog. The tone and color of the video made me at least immediately think “is this a new movie or show?”and then it gets pretty adorable. It does really look like a movie (to me), and the adorable little animated cooties. The day-dreaming imaginative flying that makes you feel like you’re there is important. The sailing on the ocean with the dog; the adorable suit and all the robots at the wedding. It all reels you in. Wow, isn’t this adorably imaginative? I felt like I was a little kid again. It was so innocent and fun.

    The build up comes from the boy telling us he’ll never get to do these things. So besides being drawn in by the visuals and atmosphere, we get roped up with why this boy can’t do any of these things. Why not? What’s stopping him? We want closure.

    And they give it to us, and it’s raw.

    We see an overflowing bathtub, spilled dishwashing tabs from under a sink, a knocked over TV. Innocent, seemingly, but the audience knows what it implies. It worms into their head. Protect what matters most.

    So is that supposed to sell insurance to us? A statement from Nationwide posted on the Wall Street Journal says they anticipated a reaction.

    “We absolutely knew that there was going to be a reaction where you had strong feelings both ways,” said Nationwide Chief Marketing Officer Matt Jauchius. “The initial negative reaction from the social space was a little stronger than we anticipated, but we absolutely anticipated that we would cause a conversation.” — Nationwide Says It Expected Reaction to Child-Safety Ad.

    And it did. It raised awareness and did so with impact.

    Don’t movies aim to do that? To tell a story like this? The build up, the tension, the visuals, the narration, the release, the wrap up. I think the ad is well written and well produced, like it’s own little movie, and there’s things to be learned from it beyond it’s initial message.

    Click Make Safe Happen-Nationwide Commercial. Let us know what you think in the comment section below.

    This writer can be reached via Twitter and e-mail: @ejLadd and [email protected]

    For more features, read the Feb. 3 article, Featured App: Shades.

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