Nationwide’s dead child commercial certainly had the power to kill the mood during Super Bowl XLIX. Nissan’s racecar dad set to Harry Chapin Carpenter’s “Cats in the Cradle” was also too ironic to be taken seriously. But if you thought those were bad, then you should be glad that you weren’t in St. Louis to catch this Super Bowl ad from the National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse. At first, it almost seems like a bad joke – a video of a mom realizing that her son is upstairs doing heroin, concluding with her finding him dead of an overdose, all while set to a song so upbeat that it could be in a Wayfair.com commercial.
But it’s the real thing, and the NCADA explained that the problem of heroin and pill abuse is so serious in St. Louis that the strategy was basically to catch us all off guard so we’ll have no choice but to talk about it.
NCADA believes that this is an issue that requires everyone’s attention. In the St. Louis area, nearly 2,300 people have died during the last eight years. To keep more kids from dying, nothing is more crucial than open communication between parents and their children and several medical, social, and political changes, or kids will continue to die.
We acknowledge that this spot may upset some people, especially those who have suffered the loss of a loved one, and we apologize for any further grief seeing this video may cause. Hearing and seeing the grief of people who have lost someone to this devastating problem is what drives us in the work we do, without a real sea change, our young people will continue to die.
In using the tools of drama to convey this crucial truth in a 60-second spot, we created a parallel disconnection between the visual story we see on screen and the musical story we hear. It is disturbing. It is jarring. It is painful to watch. And we must pay attention to it.
Job very well done, NCADA, because at first I was just scared of needles. Now I’m terrified of heroin, too.