Top Spot of the Week: Sandy Hook Promise, BBDO NY, Director Henry-Alex Rubin Share "Teenage Dream"


Robert Goldrich
Monday, Sep. 13, 2021


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As students return to school after a year of the most gun violence on record, this new Sandy Hook Promise film from BBDO New York--ironically titled “Teenage Dream”--illustrates how being a teenager is not the carefree life it once was portrayed to be. By subverting Katy Perry’s famous ode to teenage innocence with a re-recording featuring real school shooting survivors reciting the lyrics, the emotive PSA illustrates how the teenage dream is stolen from those impacted by school shootings and underscores the critical importance of prevention. 

The film was directed by Henry-Alex Rubin of SMUGGLER who is partnering with BBDO NY and Sandy Hook Promise for the fifth time. The team’s prior gun violence prevention campaigns have been highly acclaimed, including the Emmy Award-winning “Back-to-School Essentials,” the Emmy-nominated “Point of View,” and multiple award-winning “Evan.”  To date, Sandy Hook Promise’s PSAs have won a combined 22 Cannes Lions. 

“Teenage Dream” features school shooting survivors from across the country who are experiencing varying degrees of physical and mental trauma, most of whom have severe PTSD, including: 

Chase Yarborough, 20: Shot six times while trying to run away from the shooter in the Santa Fe High School shooting. He currently has four bullets in his body, including his head and heart. 
Hannah Dysinger, 20: Shot in the ribcage by the bullet that killed her best friend in the Marshall County High School shooting. 
The Dworet Family: Sons, Nick and Alex, were shot in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. Nick was killed in the shooting, and Alex was shot in the neck. Nick’s friend Aalayah Eastmond (also featured in the video) hid under his dead body to avoid being shot.

The state of youth mental health coming out of the pandemic and last year’s record levels of gun violence has educators, parents, students and organizations like Sandy Hook Promise deeply worried about the possibility of a “powder keg” effect. The message to “know the signs” to prevent violence is crucial for this year’s back-to-school season, as many kids report experiencing mental and emotional challenges including feelings of extreme stress, anxiety, isolation, and depression. Sandy Hook Promise provides a downloadable “Know the Signs’’ guide that highlights many of the warning signs of violence to look for and seek help. 


Client Sandy Hook Promise Agency BBDO New York David Lubars, chief creative officer, worldwide; Peter Alsante, executive creative director; Jim Connolly, creative director; Samantha Spellman, art director; Sandi Spino, copywriter; Alex Gianni, executive producer, director of content production; Molly Ross, producer; Jong Yeu Wu, designer; Julia Millison, sr. music producer; Lucy Bennett, influencer manager; Jessica Nugent, SVP, director of production services. Media Agency PHD Nichole Verost, strategy director; Jake Brady, strategist. Production SMUGGLER Henry-Alex Rubin, director; Patrick Milling Smith, Brian Carmody, Drew Santarsiero, exec producers; Alex Hughes, head of production; Leah Allina, producer; Michelle Mehn, Mark Perez, associate producers. Catalina Restrepo, line producer (NY prep); Holland Kemp, production supervisor; Carly Rehm, assistant production supervisor; Anthony Dimino, 1st AD; David Devlin, DP; Alex Fagin, production designer; Young-Ah Kim, Jessica Bonanza, wardrobe stylists; Leah Allina, Lev Abramoff, casting directors. Editorial MackCut Ian MacKenzie, editor; Gina Pagano, exec producer; Cooper McLane, assistant editor; Jimmy Hayhow, lead Flame artist; Franklin Ponce, Mike Leuis, interview editors. Telecine Color Collective Alex Bickel, colorist; Claudia Guevara, exec producer. Music Human Sloan Alexander, creative lead & arranger; Thomas Kerry, arranger; James Dean Wells, exec producer. Song: “Teenage Dreams” by Katy Perry. Audio Post Post Human Sloan Alexander, chief engineer.

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