Is there ever a good time to hear disturbing news?

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I’ve been thinking a lot about the controversial Nationwide ad, “Make Safe Happen,” that ran during the Super Bowl. Critics characterized the ad, which dealt with accidental children deaths, as depressing. The ad didn’t go into detail about how often kids needlessly die or the causes, so here are some statistics for the U.S.:

  • Drowning is the leading cause of injury death for children ages 1 to 4, and three children die every day as a result of drowning.
  • Every day, over 300 children and teens are treated in emergency rooms for burn-related injuries, and two die as a result of being burned.
  • In 2011, more than 650 children, ages 12 and younger, died as occupants in motor vehicle crashes, and more than 148,000 were injured. Of those who died, 33% were not buckled up.
  • In 2014, 30 kids died of heatstroke from being left in a car.
  • The Center for Disease Control reports that one child (age 10 and below) dies every week from an accidental shooting. Another report puts the number at two almost every week.

A local survey revealed that 31 percent of viewers thought the Nationwide ad and its timing were inappropriate, and another 30 percent thought the ad presented a good message, but the Super Bowl was not the right place. Stated another way, in the middle of a national championship, where beer flows freely, and substantial quantities of subs and pizza are consumed, Americans don’t want to be reminded about unhappy stuff.

I understand that—sort of.

But then, when is a good time to hear about kids dying because adults were careless?  When we’re already depressed, say in the middle of a documentary about the Holocaust or the Khmer Rouge and the killing fields of Cambodia?  Who stands up and says, “Okay, give me all the bad stuff. I’d like to hear it all.”

Nobody wants to hear about injury or death. The difference between people, however, is what they do in response to disturbing events. Some choose to make excuses that the timing of the news is wrong. Others choose to listen and accept the reality and maybe do something about it. I don’t think it’s a whole lot more complicated than that.

The Nationwide ad was great for both timing and message. Nothing else draws the audience the Super Bowl does, and what could be more important than to remind adults that our negligence all too often results in the deaths of youngsters.

There’s never a good time to be presented with the reality of accidental children deaths, but it’s part of life, and we don’t get to pick and choose what part of life suits us, though some try.


Jack D’Aurora writes for


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  1. Tarah  February 18, 2015

    Chilling statistics, Jack! I think Nationwide’s “Make Safe Happen” ad timing, was impeccable. The viewing audience was 114.4 million people!!! It may have imposed a negative topic during a happy time, but it also created a buzz and got the discussion rolling about the safety of the most precious people in our lives, our children.


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