by Christine Urio

Some of the best features of the Super Bowl are the nontraditional ones, such as the half-time show, the endless amount of wings, and, of course, the commercials. This year, it wasn’t the funny Doritos commercials that had everybody talking, but the more serious commercials that people were not expecting to see in such a light hearted atmosphere.

The one that has gotten the most attention thus far is the Nationwide “Make Safe Happen” commercial, in which a young boy is seen passing milestones, such as riding a bike, receiving his first kiss, and getting married. However, his narration hints that something unpleasant is coming, for he says that he’ll never get a chance to do these things.

Then comes the hard-hitting line that took everyone by surprise, “I couldn’t grow up because I died from an accident.”

The “Make Safe Happen” Super Bowl 2015 Commercial (Video courtesy of Nationwide Insurance)

This commercial has received much criticism because it was shown before the half-time performance and right after an incredible play, coming down on everybody’s high like a sledge hammer. The last thing that people want to hear about while they’re enjoying life is death—especially that of a child.

It was also seen as a ploy for free advertising, for even after airing the commercial a week ago, people are still talking about it, which is every big business’ dream. If you’re going to spend that much money to advertise during Super Bowl, you obviously are hoping to reap the monetary reward of the business it got you.

However, the Super Bowl is one of the most watched events worldwide, and Nationwide was getting out an important message to a large audience and addressing an issue that many people overlook.

Another haunting commercial that aired was the public service announcement for No More, an umbrella organization that protects against domestic violence and sexual assault. The commercial does not show any violence, but depicts a house in the aftermath of some violent event: dents in the wall, broken picture frames, and books scattered on the floor.

The voice playing over these images is a 911 operator asking what the emergency is, but the woman on the other line is ordering a pizza. It takes a moment for the operator to realize that she is in trouble, but unable to talk.

Studies have shown that domestic abuse occurs more frequently during the Super Bowl because people are intoxicated and become so involved in the game they have a tendency to grow abnormally upset when their team does not perform well.

With the Ray Rice controversy of last year, the NFL is no stranger to this issue, and while it does not solve or make up for the scandal, it was a bold and powerful move to air this message during the Super Bowl.

These situations may make viewers uncomfortable, but these problems are very real and need to be addressed.

While the Super Bowl is supposed to be just fun and games, it’s a refreshing change to see that companies are taking advantage of a large viewing audience not just to better themselves, but to better others.

The National Football League’s Domestic Violence PSA that aired during the 2015 Super Bowl (Video courtesy of the Wall Street Journal)