Last Sunday, during the Super Bowl, Nationwide Insurance ran a controversial commercial entitled “Make Safe Happen.” The advertisement features a young child experiencing memorable moments growing up. However, viewers are informed that the child would not actually experience these moments because he “died from an accident.” The commercial then cuts to a series of [common] household accidents, all involving consumer products. The commercial has been panned by many in the media as the “worst Super Bowl commercial in history.”
We could not disagree with these critics more. Although the commercial was certainly a “downer” and pulled at the heart strings during an otherwise festive event, Nationwide Insurance should be applauded for raising the safety consciousness of the largest viewing audience in television history (114.4 million viewers). The Super Bowl was the perfect opportunity to run such an impactful piece. The fact that so many people are talking about the commercial one week later only underscores its value.
Simply put, every scenario in the commercial in which a child has died as a result of an accident in the home is real. The good news, as the commercial states, is that these accidents are preventable. CPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye stated today:
“A conversation has been sparked this week that is long overdue. The child safety ad that aired during the Super Bowl has a central message we should all agree upon: nothing is more important than protecting our children. The fact that preventable injuries are still the leading cause of childhood deaths in the U.S. should motivate manufacturers of products and the parents who use them to do far more to protect children. Children drownings, window blind strangulations, TV or furniture tip-over tragedies, and household chemical poisonings happen far too often in our homes, but need not. The scenes shown in the ad are real and they are preventable. We at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission see this as a moment to focus on the ad's message and take the necessary and simple steps for child safety. Even if one child is saved, because the ad led a manufacturer to make its products safer or prompted a family to install cabinet locks and cordless window blinds, anchor their TV and furniture, and sign their child up for swim lessons—then it will all have been worth it.”
These conversations are overdue and worthwhile, including discussing in each product category where the balance between individual consumer and manufacturer responsibility is properly found. These are hard questions and issues. We hope that the Commission initiates more of these conversations and this opportunity is not lost.
We also agree with former CPSC Commissioner Nancy Nord’s statement on her blog in support of the commercial and similar statements of support from consumer advocacy groups Kids in Danger and Safe Kids Worldwide.
We wonder whether there would have been such strong criticism if the commercial highlighted childhood diseases instead. Why are household safety concerns not equally important?
Member / Co-chair, Retail and Consumer Products
Chuck is an antitrust and regulatory lawyer who devotes a significant portion of his practice to assisting clients with consumer product safety and environmental regulations. He serves as general counsel to numerous trade associations. For the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, Chuck negotiated and drafted amendments to federal laws, including the Consumer Product Safety Act. Corporations in many industries, local governments, and state agencies are also on his client roster. He represents clients before a wide array of federal agencies, including the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), state agencies, and international regulatory organizations.
Chuck is engaged in a federal and international regulatory and legislative practice. He has been extensively involved in product safety, product recall issues, environmental, tax, health care, technology, and energy issues, and public finance legislative and regulatory matters for a variety of trade associations, corporations, local governments, and state agencies.
His practice encompasses work before the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, Departments of State, Health and Human Services, Energy, and Treasury, US Trade Representative, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Trade Commission, the IRS, and other federal and state agencies. He also has extensive experience dealing with Canada, the European Commission, and international bodies.
Chuck also engages in trade association representation and antitrust counseling. As general counsel of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, Chuck negotiated and drafted the amendments to the Consumer Product Safety Act and the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act, and represents the appliance industry at international bodies dealing with safety, energy, ozone depletion, and global warming.
Before joining Mintz, Chuck practiced regulatory law with a law firm in Chicago and then worked in the Executive Office of the President before entering private practice in Washington.