Sandy Hook Promise: Evan Response

Goddamn goddamn goddamn! Purely astonished. BBDO New York is incredible. Just four years ago a 20-year old used a Bushmaster X-15 handgun to take the lives of 20 children and 8 adults. A week from today, those lives will be remembered. In an initiative to end gun violence, the Sandy Hook Promise Group hired BBDO New York to create a powerful advertisement. With years of experience, it is no surprise they took the opportunity and ran with it.

With a world of directors to choose from, Henry-Alex Rubin took the position. Rubin has directed all sorts of commercials ranging from Gatorade’s Derek Jeter Departure to Volvo’s Live Test in Spain, featuring wild bulls and superb truck handling. Rubin’s approach to commercials is, as he told, “[making] something so authentic that people watching might feel something, despite it being an ad.” He however was not the only person present when creating the Sandy Hook Promise advertisement. He was accompanied by BBDO’s Art Director, Martins Zelcs, a true oddball and insanely talented guy, along with his Copywriting counterpart, Bryan Stokely. Of course, there are more to be named, but I’ll keep the list short.

SPOILER ALERT: I’m going to ruin the ad now, so if you haven’t seen it yet, watch it here:

What blew my mind was the hidden shooter throughout the entire, I’ll say, mini-film. The blond haired loner is strategically placed throughout the entire mini-film. The narrative is too strong I think to consider it solely an ad. The foreground follows the story of a young boy bored in the library, like any other student. He decides to deface the desk and writes, “I AM BORED” in scratchy pen markings. In frames to come, he acquires a secret admirer, and the two share dialogue via pen scratches. While this love story is escalating, the shooter, prior to committing his crime, is sharing his own narrative in the background. As the days pass, the boy writes, “WHO ARE YOU?” When he goes to check the next day, the library is closed and he feels as if the world will crumble if he does not meet this mystery woman (or man?) Meanwhile, the soon-to-be shooter is being bullied. It’s the end of the year now and it’s yearbook signing time, woohoo!! A classic pastime. The boy writes a cryptic message, using the same scratchy handwriting as he did on the library’s wooden table, and a girl responds; his mystery woman. As they connect, a young man enters the gymnasium doors, drops a bag and cocks a gun. The children run and the background narrative plays, revealing the shooters involvement in the mini-film.

This storyline is so ridiculously strong that I dropped my headphones and shouted, “HOLYSHIT!” There wasn’t a single instance that I even would have suggested that the shooter existed in the mini-film; until he walked through the gymnasium double-doors. With the use of authenticity and sequence, BBDO really brought this story to life. Two for you BBDO!

If you wish to support this initiative, visit