The 101-year-old firm Nuveen Investments, earlier known for the slogan "It's not what you earn. It's what you keep that counts," made a big mark in Super Bowl XXXIV with this ad via Fallon McElligott imagining advances in treatments for AIDS, cancer and spinal cord injuries. It dramatizes the last with special effects showing Christopher Reeve walking again. "In the future, so many amazing things will happen in the world," a voiceover says. “What amazing thing can you make happen?” Text on the screen concludes, “Invest well. Leave your mark."
Reeve, who was paralyzed in a horse riding accident in 1995, said he did the ad to raise awareness and hopes. "The Nuveen commercial is a motivating vision of something that can actually happen," he said in a statement a few days before the Super Bowl. "Most scientists agree that with enough money and talent focused on spinal cord repair, the goal of walking within the foreseeable future is a very real possibility. I was pleased to be involved in this spot, because the message is that all of us must give back to society and leave our mark in some unique way."
But some viewers felt that a financial services marketer was an imperfect vehicle for the message. Others worried that it gave people the impression an effective treatment was closer than it was. "We've received a number of phone calls from persons who are paralysed or their parents or relatives, saying, 'What research institute did Mr. Reeve go to in order to receive his cure?'" Thomas Countee Jr., executive director of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, told the Guardian. Edmund Cortez, the president and CEO of the National Center for Disability Services, defended the ad in a letter to The New York Times, arguing that it drew attention to Reeve’s campaign for research on spinal cord regeneration. “While some would argue that his approach raises false hopes for people with disabilities, no one can question his commitment to his cause,” Cortez wrote. “The controversy may have an immediate benefit because Mr. Reeve also draws our attention to the nine million workers with disabilities who, despite their talents, don't have jobs. Let's hope that corporate America takes note and responds.”
TIAA-CREF bought Nuveen in 2014.
Director: Andrew Douglas. Producer: Paige Seidel. Production company: Propaganda/Satellite Films. Creative Director: David Lubars. Copywriter: Mike Gibbs. Art director: Harvey Marco.Send credit info to SuperBowlAdArchive@adage.com.