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Back to School. Back to Normal?

September 25th, 2019

In a sea of back-to-school promotions, with kids dancing and over the moon to get new clothes and school supplies, there’s one spot that didn’t particularly stand out.

Until about 15 seconds in.

If you’ve seen the new Sandy Hook Promise PSA, then you know what I’m talking about. This minute-long video was published on YouTube just a few days ago by the Sandy Hook Promise organization—a nonprofit that trains students and adults to know the signs of gun violence so that no other parent experiences the senseless, horrific loss of their child.

The spot begins like any other back-to-school commercial: One kid is excited about his new backpack; another is excited about her colorful folders; then another is excited about his new headphones …

This is where it starts to shift in tone.

It’s subtle, but there’s a slight stirring of children behind the child with his headphones. In the next scene, we see a kid boasting about his new shoes. But while he’s talking, he’s running. Fearfully. And other kids are scrambling behind him, as well.

The rest of the PSA is a pretty harsh dose of reality.

We come to realize that this school and these children are in the midst of a school shooting. And they’re using whatever they can find to defend themselves – including all of those new back-to-school products. It’s emotional. It’s terrifying. And it’s so well done.

Kudos to the makers of this PSA.

Back-to-school commercials have, for years, been light-hearted, fun and exciting. The focus is always on buying cool new things. But after all of the school shootings in recent history, Sandy Hook Promise believed the time to speak up is now. And what better way to stand out than to start the spot by almost mocking the light-hearted, fun and exciting tone of those traditional back-to-school spots? It broke through the clutter, it’s being shared like crazy, and I’d be willing to bet it’ll make quite a few parents – and students – stop and think about gun control and just how important it is to be prepared for the horrible possibility of it happening to them.

Again, kudos to the makers of this PSA. And kudos to Sandy Hook Promise.

Visit the Sandy Hook Promise website.

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