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Creative Director’s Choice: MCD Partners’ John Caruso on the Sandy Hook Promise PSA


By Kyle O'Brien, Creative Works Editor

October 24, 2019 | 4 min read

Creative Director’s Choice gives creative directors a chance to highlight the work they think is the best out in the ad world — the spots and campaigns they believe are making a difference.

Sandy Hook Promise BTS Essentials

'Back-To-School Essentials' from Sandy Hook Promise

This week, John Caruso, co-founder, partner and chief creative officer for MCD Partners, discusses the powerful ‘Back-To-School Essentials’ anti-gun violence campaign from Sandy Hook Promise.

John Caruso

Three years ago on an early autumn afternoon, I was walking up Amsterdam Avenue hand-in-hand with my first grader when, out of nowhere, he asked me in his raspy little voice, “Daddy, did you practice lockdowns at your school?” Caught off guard, I fumbled to come up with an answer before finally confessing that no, I did not. He went silent for about half a block then surmised, “Wow, you must have went to a really safe school.”

If you haven’t seen the new PSA ‘Back-To-School Essentials’ by Sandy Hook Promise, please stop reading this and view it now. It’s a powerful new campaign from the advocacy group based in Newtown, Connecticut, created by the parents of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

The spot opens much like any back-to-school ad with upbeat kids showing off their new school supplies, but it quickly becomes clear that they are repurposing their new gear to survive a school shooting. The very matter-of-fact tone the kids deliver to the camera while talking about their survival is jarring, yet it sadly rings a bit too true.

This important PSA juxtaposes the seeming absurdity of an advertising genre over the backdrop of unthinkable school violence, and all but forces you to ask yourself, what have we done about this? No matter where you sit on the political spectrum today, you hope this would be the one thing we could all agree upon, before just packing our kids off for another school year on their own.

The parents of Sandy Hook Promise and their agency partners at BBDO have done a great service in finding a creative way to challenge us all to face the reality of gun violence in our communities’ schools. Especially when viewed through the eyes of our children, we can see how their everyday experiences are profoundly different from the safety we enjoyed in our own childhoods.

John Caruso is co-founder, partner and chief creative officer at digital marketing and experience agency MCD Partners.

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

To see the latest creative ads and campaigns, visit The Drum’s Creative Works section. If you or your creative director would like to be featured in our Creative Director’s Choice, please contact Kyle O’Brien.

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

By Sandy Hook Promise

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