It came as no surprise to this blogger that Nationwide CMO Matt Jauchius, who developed the now infamous “dead boy” TV spot that ran during the Super Bowl and outraged millions, has just left the big insurer to “pursue other interests.”
In case, you missed it, take a look:
As you’ll note, the rather lengthy commercial actually depicts a child being killed and cites Nationwide Insurance as the best guarantee to assure one’s family is protected for such an unexpected tragedy.
The tone, content and timing of the spot could not have been more ill-conceived. The Super Bowl is a national (if not international) day of parties, festivities and celebrations. And, as we know, many viewers actually look forward to watching the Super Bowl commercials rather than the game itself.
So, for Jauchius and Nationwide to interject a major downer in the middle of a party is the ultimate party-pooping ploy.
Responding to the avalanche of complaints in the immediate aftermath of the TV spot, Jauchius said the commercial was “…designed to raise awareness of preventable childhood deaths. We weren’t trying to sell insurance with this spot,” he said. “We were trying to save children’s lives.” To which I respond, balderdash.
Jauchius knew exactly what he was doing. He was using scare tactics to encourage a huge, captive audience to consider buying additional coverage from Nationwide to safeguard the economic impact of losing a child.
So, it comes as no surprise that Jauchius left Nationwide a week or so ago to “….pursue other interests.” That’s polite corporate speak for saying he was shown the door. It’s equally telling that the recently-departed CMO was not replaced by another executive with marketing credentials but, rather, by a Nationwide lifer named Terrance Williams. The latter’s experience includes regional leadership roles and positions in sales, claims, underwriting and operations. In other words, just about everything but marketing communications.
It doesn’t take a crystal ball to predict that, under Mr. Williams’ leadership, Nationwide will be doubly cautious and quite a bit more conservative in its future marketing endeavors. With the sacking of the dead boy guy, I’m guessing scare tactics will go the way of all flesh when it comes to upcoming Nationwide marketing endeavors.
Maybe it’s a good thing that he won’t be replaced by someone who has been in the marketing team at Nationwide.
It’s fine to get a regular suit in that role IF…Nationwide’s marcom counsel knows what they’re doing, tells the truth, pushes back and isn’t second-guessed to death by arrogant management. That’s a lot to wish for though, isn’t it?