BBDO New York Gun Violence Advertising

Sandy Hook Promise returns with harrowing back-to-school ad to address mass shootings


By Kyle O'Brien, Creative Works Editor

September 18, 2019 | 4 min read

Sandy Hook Promise, the non-profit that aims to prevent gun violence in schools, has returned with another powerful campaign to try and stop another school shooting in a year that has already been deadly to students nationwide.

Sandy Hook Promise BTS

Sandy Hook Promise Back to School promo

The latest PSA, ‘Back-to-School Essentials’, highlights the anxiety and fear students face in the reality of school shootings. Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) and BBDO New York have produced a new video that starts off as a cheery and often-familiar back-to-school ad, with students showing off must-have items like backbacks and binders. But the spot slowly unfolds to highlight students using everyday back-to-school items to survive a shooting, like gym socks and tourniquets and a skateboard to break a window to escape, shedding light on the gruesome reality that students face.

Since the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook School almost seven years ago, reactive measures to gun violence such as active shooter drills and bulletproof backpacks have increased. Many students fear that it’s only a matter of when, not if, a shooting will erupt on their school campus. Subconsciously accepting shootings as regular occurrences has become the “new normal” at schools and public spaces across the country. Sandy Hook Promise thinks that by focusing on early identification, action and intervention it is possible to prevent tragedies.

As with its previous PSAs, including the award-winning ‘Evan’ that was viewed over 100 million times and the Emmy-nominated ‘Point of View’, SHP reinforces that there are proven preventative solutions, including its Know the Signs programs. These programs teach students and adults to recognize warning signs and threats that often precede an act of violence or self-harm, along with the steps to properly intervene and get help before violence occurs. It is documented that 80% of school shooters told someone of their plans prior to taking action - yet no interventions were made as the signs were overlooked, misunderstood or not taken seriously.

‘Back-to-School Essentials’ will be SHP’s biggest campaign to date, as it is being launched with an integrated campaign featuring print, digital, radio, and out-of-home placements. Over $2m in donated media placements have already been secured to drive this important campaign.

“So far this year there have been over 22 school shootings, and with students heading back to school, it seems sadly probable that we will see more incidents,” said Nicole Hockley, co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise and mother of Dylan who was killed in the Sandy Hook School shooting.

“This is unacceptable, given that we have proven tools to prevent these acts from occurring. We cannot accept school shootings as the new normal in our country. Our goal with this PSA is to wake up parents to the horrible reality that our children endure. Gone are the days of viewing back-to-school as just a carefree time, when school violence has become so prevalent. However, if we come together to know the signs, this doesn’t have to be the case. I hope that parents across the country will join me to make the promise to stop this epidemic,” Hockley added.

See the spot by clicking on the Creative Works box below.

Sandy Hook Promise: Back-To-School Essentials by BBDO New York

By Sandy Hook Promise

Overall Rating 5/5

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