Top Spot of the Week: Sandy Hook Promise, BBDO NY Share "How To" Warning Signs That "The Kids Are Not Alright"


Robert Goldrich
Thursday, May. 13, 2021


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Being a teenager is extremely hard during “normal” times, but over the last year, youth have faced countless added stressors: COVID-19, schools shutting down, isolation, racial injustices, economic uncertainty, and others. As a result, the levels of anxiety, depression, self-harm, and suicide have skyrocketed. Compared with 2019, the proportion of mental health-related Emergency Department visits for children aged 5–11 and 12–17 years increased approximately 24% and 31%, respectively*.

The current emotional situation among youth is a “powder keg,” which will give rise to various forms of violence: not just shootings, but suicide, self-harm, and depression. As a whole, the kids of our country are not alright.

That’s why Sandy Hook Promise has released three new PSAs, created with BBDO NY to raise parent’s awareness of this rising threat, and educate them on signs of emotional distress. Because, once you know the signs, you can prevent ALL forms of violence against youth. The creative comes to life as “How To” videos equating the pent-up stress and anxiety within youngsters to a lethal powder keg.

Taking a unique visual approach, each spot is carefully crafted to feel real, relatable, and accurate. The work impressively features stock-imagery at its finest--eliciting a genuine emotional response to increase empathy, vigilance, and hopefully, action—all on a pro-bono budget. It follows prior highly recognized gun violence PSAs from Sandy Hook Promise and BBDO including Emmy-winning “Back to School Essentials” (2019), among others.

“Teenagers are in crisis right now and most people aren’t even aware of it. So we wanted to spark the conversation and raise awareness about the signs of distress and how Sandy Hook Promise can help these kids overcome them,” said Peter Alsante, sr. creative director, BBDO New York.

The spots in Sandy Hook Promise’s “The Kids Are Not Alright” campaign--including this PSA titled “How to Overload a Circuit”--was directed by Jakob Marky of Sweetshop. In “How to Overload a Circuit,” we see how relentless input with negative energy can strain the system, causing it--in this case a youngster--to blow like an overloaded circuit.


Client Sandy Hook Promise Agency BBDO New York David Lubars, chief creative officer, worldwide; Peter Alsante, SVP, sr. creative director; Kara Goodrich, Cesar Finamori, creative directors; Alex Gianni, SVP, group executive producer; Tatiana Lanier, producer; Annie Hutchings, production coordinator; Julia Millison, music producer. Production Company Sweetshop USA Jakob Marky, director; Jeff Miller, George Meeker, exec producers; Matt Zion-Basile, producer. Co-Production Company Office of Development & Design (ODD) Gary Breslin, design director; Matthew Turke, Tim Case, exec producers; Linden Carty, producer. Editorial School Editing, Toronto Ben Canny, editor; Chelsea Smith (via ODD), Taylor McWade, co-editors; Sarah Brooks, executive producer, partner. Design & Animation Office of Development & Design (ODD) Gary Breslin, creative director; Hayato Yamane, Paul Todaro, animators. Finishing Fort York, Toronto Melissa Vasiliev, Luke White, James Marin, Flame artists; Armen Bunag, producer; Erica Bourgault-Assaf, exec producer. Telecine Alter Ego, Toronto Conor Fisher, sr. colorist; Daniel Saavedra, color assistant; Spencer Butt, producer; Jane Garrah, sr. producer. Sound Design & Mix Sound Lounge, NY Pete Crimi, Justin Kooy, engineers/sound designers; Susie Shuttleworth, exec producer; Lauren Mullen, sr. producer; Alexa Magnotto, casting director; Camila Dayson Aravena, producer; Matt Smith, production coordinator. Stock Footage  footage sourced and licensed by Stalkr, George Alvarez, producer; Aaron Sharper, Jen Van Horn, Jeffrey Harland, Itzel Sarabia, Matt Gee, Nathalie Dortonne, Mike Kho, researchers; Colleen Cavanaugh Anthony, exec producer; Chelsea Van Arsdol, production manager; Randall Collett, production coordinator. Content Curation Catch & Release Additional Footage, sourced and licensed by Getty, Shutterstock, Film Supply, Dissolve, Stocksy, and Adobe 

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