Sandy Hook Promise marks solemn five-year anniversary

The group's latest spot follows the success of Evan, the PSA that won several Cannes Lions last year.

Five years and countless shootings after the Newtown school shooting, Sandy Hook Promise is continuing its mission to educate Americans and prevent gun violence with moving PSAs.

After the hugely successful Evan PSA in 2016, which took home several Gold Lions and reached more than 150 million views, Sandy Hook Promise released another PSA, Tomorrow’s News, for the five year anniversary of the tragedy that left 20 elementary children and seven adults dead.

Tomorrow’s News has a similar feel to Evan, showing the signs of someone planning a shooting before it actually happens. It takes the viewer to the day before an incident when the shooter was planning the attack and highlights the signs that were missed by people who knew him.

Nicole Hockley, cofounder and MD of Sandy Hook Promise, said the ultimate goal of the PSA is making sure people know these signs. The nonprofit worked with Dini von Mueffling Communications and BBDO New York to create the PSA, the same agency team that produced Evan.

"Last year, we had a ridiculously successful PSA called Evan where we invited people to a new way of talking about gun violence," Hockley said. "The signs and signals of potentially at-risk behavior are often right in front of us, but we don't see them. We’re building off that idea if you know the signs you can prevent violence."

With  major shootings in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, Texas, since October, gun violence has been top of mind the past several months. But that doesn’t necessarily make people more receptive to gun violence prevention messages as Americans become "more socially desensitized" to the issue, Hockley said.

"There are more mass shootings going on, but we’re seeing decreased new cycles around them," she explained. "PSAs like Evan and Tomorrow’s News are designed to jar people out of their comfort zones, make them think a little differently, and compel them to take action. If you're too comfortable, then you don't take action, so you need to be jarred into that action."

The PSA gives viewers a glimpse of the signs of gun violence and directs them to the nonprofit’s free resources and programs that teach students, teachers, and other adults how to recognize the signs of gun violence and how to prevent it.

Sandy Hook Promise also partnered with Sheryl Crow for the anniversary. Originally, Crow was simply going to perform at a benefit the nonprofit was hosting in New York, Hockley said, but the group’s founders asked Crow if she would write a song for the performance. A couple weeks later, Crow sent the founders her song: "The Dreaming Kind."

Both the video and song debuted on Good Morning America on Monday. All proceeds from downloads of "The Dreaming Kind" will also go to Sandy Hook Promise

Hockley and Tim Makris, another Sandy Hook Promise cofounder, both have marketing backgrounds and developed the brief for this year’s PSA before bringing it to the agencies, Hockley said.

Sandy Hook Promise has done an annual remembrance campaign every December since 2013. Each year the message is the same: gun violence is preventable.

"Lives depend on it," Hockley said. "People need to be part of the conversation, need to look at it from a different perspective, and take action. A lot of people are getting engaged with this movement through message management, through marketing, through communications. With BBDO New York and DVMC, we have a lot of marketing people all working on this challenge."

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