‘Tis the season of the sappy, feel-good holiday commercials.
Then there’s a new, powerful ad from BBDO New York that is anything but.
At the outset, it seems like a refreshing tale of young high school love, like this heartstring-pulling Extra Gum ad from last year (if you don’t cry watching it, you basically have no heart).
It begins with Evan, a typical high school kid who takes to scribbling on a desk in the library while bored and waiting for summer vacation to arrive.
A fellow presumably bored teen – assumed to be a female – has written back to him. A sweet, back-and-forth, budding love story begins to unfold, as the audience tries to figure out who the stranger could be who is writing back to Evan.
The thing is, the audience remains so captivated by the mysterious love story, that they miss a far more important story that’s brewing in the backdrop.
Before we give the whole thing away, check out the video for yourself:
Yet, it happens at a disturbing frequency at institutions everywhere. We’re often so consumed with our own lives that we miss some pretty important warning signs of mental illness or distress in other people.
That is exactly what the advertisers wanted to deliver.
As it turns out, the spot is an ad for Sandy Hook Promise, a nonpartisan nonprofit led by family members whose loved ones were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The massacre that claimed the life of 20 children and six adult staff members occurred four years ago this month.
“Through ‘Evan,’ we sought to show how different your perspective can be when you’re aware of the signs,” says Greg Hahn, chief creative officer of BBDO New York, according to Ad Week. “We’ve been fortunate to work with the inspiring people at Sandy Hook Promise to help parents, students and teachers better identify these signs.”
While we don’t have the rampant gun violence or school shootings that plague the United States, the spot still serves as a relevant reminder that we all need to be more in-tune to the warning signs of mentally unwell students, coworkers or even family members among us.
After all, we’re all aware of the prevalence of mental health issues by now.
“When you don’t know what to look for, or can’t recognize what you are seeing, it can be easy to miss warning signs or dismiss them as unimportant. That can lead to tragic consequences,” says Nicole Hockley, co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise, who lost her first-grade son Dylan in the Sandy Hook massacre, as Ad Week reports.
Sandy Hook Promise says 80 per cent of school shooters and 70 per cent of individuals who committed suicide informed someone of their plans before taking action.
The problem is, most of the time, nobody does anything about it, which is why an ad campaign like this is so necessary.