Nationwide's new ad ready for Super Bowl


Things go wrong for Fabio in Nationwide’s new commercial.

Nationwide, which quietly dipped its toe into network advertising last year with spots in pro golf tournaments and college football, is spending more than $1 million for a 30-second ad during the third quarter of the Super Bowl.

The commercial, featuring romance-novel-cover king Fabio, is the latest production in the “Life Comes at You Fast” ad campaign, now in its third year. The company has two other new spots in the pregame show.

The decision to pony up big bucks for the Super Bowl “is as much to raise awareness” about Nationwide as it is to sell products, said Steven Schreibman, vice president for advertising and brand management.

He declined to say how much the commercial time would cost, only that the Super Bowl ad is less than the $2.5 million average being quoted by ABC.

“We got a good deal,” Schreibman said.

The financial-services and insurance company, based in Columbus, is expanding its advertising budget 40 percent this year to an estimated $85 million in a bid to increase public awareness in the company.

As in previous commercials developed for Nationwide, the ads show how quickly fortunes can turn.

The ad featuring Fabio (his full name is Fabio Lanzoni) was filmed in Venice and appears to be a shampoo commercial before it changes directions to play havoc with his image.

“I thought it was really funny, and that is why it is a good commercial,” Fabio said yesterday. “If you know me personally, I love to have fun in life. I never take myself seriously.”

The 45-year-old, long-haired personality doesn?t pose for bodice- rippers anymore. Instead, he works on a line of women?s clothing that carries his name.

The commercial is Nationwide?s second spot featuring a “celebrity.”

Last year, an ad with former rapper M.C. Hammer played humorously on what happens to someone who doesn?t plan for the time when his 15 minutes of fame are over.

“The Super Bowl is a wonderful venue for getting your message in front of a large portion of the U.S. population,” said Tim Calkins, an associate professor of marketing at Northwestern University?s Kellogg School of Management.

“It also makes a statement that you are a player.”

Many of the nation?s foremost advertisers create Super Bowl ads. Of the 60 commercials that run during the game, people really talk about a handful. Just as important, “you don?t want yours to be considered a dud,” he said.

Despite the Super Bowl spot, Nationwide won?t do much network TV advertising this year.

Schreibman said the company also will be advertising on the Internet by targeting specific national Web pages.