Nationwide Super Bowl Ad Draws Criticism from Restaurant Association

January 25, 2007

A restaurant trade group is insulted by an insurance company’s planned Super Bowl commercial starring Kevin Federline working at a fast-food joint.

Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co.’s ad shows Federline, the aspiring rapper being divorced by Britney Spears, performing in a glitzy music video, but the punch line is that he’s actually daydreaming, while cooking french fries at a fast-food restaurant. It is the latest installment of the company’s “Life Comes at You Fast” campaign.

The ad Nationwide plans to run during the Feb. 4 Super Bowl amounts to a “strong and direct insult to the 12.8 million Americans who work in the restaurant industry,” National Restaurant Association President and Chief Executive Steven Anderson wrote in a letter to Nationwide CEO Jerry Jurgensen.

The commercial “would give the impression that working in a restaurant is demeaning and unpleasant,” Anderson wrote.

If the Columbus-based insurer airs the spot, Anderson said his organization will “make sure that our membership , many of whom are customers of Nationwide, know the negative implications this ad portrays of the restaurant industry.”

A Nationwide executive shrugged off the criticism, saying that where humor is involved, there always will be somebody who doesn’t get it.

The company doesn’t mean to offend restaurant employees, said Steven Schreibman, vice president of advertising and brand management.

“We’re not making fun of anybody, except maybe Kevin Federline,” he said.

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