BBDO and Sandy Hook Promise Win an Emmy for Emotional Campaign About Gun Violence

BBDO and Sandy Hook Promise Win an Emmy for Emotional Campaign About Gun Violence
Published: October 02, 2022

For the 74th rendition of Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards, BBDO New York, together with their longtime client pair Sandy Hook Promise, won an Emmy in the Outstanding Commercial category for their “Teenage Dream” campaign. Henry-Alex Rubin of commercial production company SMUGGLER directed the short film, taking home the Emmy ahead of other great contenders such as Apple, Meta, and Chevy.

The New York agency and the gun violence prevention group came together to create an awareness campaign and call for people to recognize the signs leading to mass shootings and the destruction of young, hopeful lives. Sandy Hook Promise “Know the Signs” programs teach youth and adults to recognize and prevent school shootings, violence, and every other type of harmful act.

For the campaign, they brought together a dozen school shooting survivors and their friends and family members. Since the victims of school gun violence hail from more than twenty US states, it wasn’t possible to visit each and every one of them. Instead, BBDO flew them to New York, where they made their harrowing contribution to the film.

"It wasn't possible to fly out to all of the 20-plus states where these kids lived, so we flew them and their families to New York,” Rubin said. “We asked each kid to send us photos of their rooms, and we did our best to re-create them. They brought whatever they could from their homes: photos, posters, trophies, wall art.”

The survivors recite the lyrics of Kate Perry’s eponymous 2010 hit in the short film. Only this time, “Teenage Dream” has dark undertones, as the dream itself is shattered, and many love stories are replaced with physical and mental trauma that will take a lifetime to heal. Vocals and instrumentation give way to mournful spoken-word bits that convey the sorrow and tragedy of what had transpired.

The executive creative director of BBDO, Peter Alsante, explained the choice of song for the film. "We thought there was strength in drawing the comparison between the way we all think about the typical high school experience—and the experience shared by school shooting survivors," Alsante told Muse.

The short film ends with gruesome and tragic details of each survivor’s plight and how it’s affected their lives and those of their families. All of the people who participated in the “Teenage Dream” short film were enthusiastic about sharing their stories and helping prevent future cases of violence in schools. However, not everyone felt that their physical or mental wounds have healed enough for them to relive such horrible experiences in their lives.

Alsante said:

"We wanted everyone who participated to feel 100 percent comfortable with what we were doing and feel no pressure whatsoever. For some we spoke with, the tragedy was still too raw.” 

BBDO New York and Sandy Hook Promise have already cooperated in the past. This is their second Emmy in only three years and the fifth primetime commercial Emmy for BBDO.

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