States United to Prevent Gun Violence and its agency, Grey New York, have teamed up for some truly hard-hitting PSAs, including 2013's famous "Ed" spot, which won a Silver Lion in Film at Cannes. Now, they've moved on to a new tactic—a social experiment set in the real world.
They did what they're calling "the unthinkable"—opened a real-looking gun store on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and invited first-time gun buyers to check it out, with hidden cameras rolling.
To create drama, they put disturbing tags on each weapon, indicating which models were used in particular mass shootings, unintentional shootings, homicides and suicides. Needless to say, the fresh-faced buyers end up looking rather pallid by the end, and aren't quite as excited to head home with a firearm.
The point of the PSA is to debunk the perception, held by six in 10 Americans, that owning a firearm makes a home safer. In fact, according to studies, those who own a gun—and those around them—have an increased risk of injury and death.
There's a sense here of preaching to the choir. These folks are awfully quick to backtrack from their desire to own a weapon, and the NYC setting might not do much to convince people in less liberal places to consider changing their views.
But it does, at least, suggest—indeed, demonstrate—that minds can be changed on the matter. And it's chilling in the video to see the actual guns that were used in notorious crimes, and must have been that much more so in person.
"Our goal is to educate those looking to purchase a firearm and ensure they are aware of the potential risks [and to promote responsible gun ownership]," says Julia Wyman, executive director of States United To Prevent Gun Violence.
"Often gun purchasers wrongly believe guns will keep them safe when in fact a gun in the home greatly increases the risk of homicide and suicide. This sets the record straight so consumers can make an informed choice to buy a firearm or not."
Client: States United to Prevent Gun Violence
Agency: Grey, New York
Tor Myhren: Worldwide Chief Creative Officer
Per Pedersen: Deputy Worldwide Chief Creative Officer
Andreas Dahlqvist: Chief Creative Officer
Stephen Krauss: Executive Creative Director
Ari Halper: Executive Creative Director
Marco Pupo: Creative Director
Joao Coutinho: Creative Director
Bennett McCarroll: EVP Director Broadcast Production
Floyd Russ: Producer
Elizabeth Gilchrist: VP Account Director
Katie Stirn: Account Supervisor
Emma Tonetti: Project Manager
Christopher Izzo: Digital Production
Jayne Horowitz: VP Art Producer
Production Company: Rival School Pictures
Andrew Lane: Director
James Blom: Executive Producer/Partner
Alihan Karagul: Executive Producer/Partner
Editor: Dominic Martimucci
Postproduction: The Mill