Converged communicators who have taken DIG3286 (Assembling Digital Media) know that Internet memes can spring up in moments. And nothing illustrates that like Sunday’s Super Bowl XLIX between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks. Within five minutes of the game’s conclusion, a meme began making the rounds. The meme combined the two most talked-about themes from the game: The Seahawks’ dubious, game-losing play call at the end of the fourth quarter (when they passed up a likely touchdown by handing off to star running back Marshawn Lynch) and a widely-panned Nationwide commercial that invoked tragic stories of childhood accident in a painfully tasteless ad that no one liked. This double-barreled meme took aim at both Nationwide’s ill-conceived marketing move and the Seahawks’ strategic blunder. As the Twitter stats show, it caught on – fast.
As a side note, Nationwide’s commercial, which started on a seemingly light tone and suddenly plunged into a recitation of childhood events that never happened because of an accidental death, has already attracted general recognition as one of the worst-received ads in Super Bowl history. Converged communicators know what Nationwide apparently didn’t – it’s a good idea to run advertising concepts past real people to make sure your message has the intended effect. Here, the basic idea was so disastrously unfunny and ill-suited to irony that it’s unclear what Nationwide’s intended effect was. It’s the River City Communicator’s latest citation for Bad Ad.