Sandy Hook Promise’s ‘Back-to-School Essentials’ Wins Emmy for Outstanding Commercial

BBDO New York's anti-violence PSA takes top honors over Apple, Jeep, Amazon and P&G

The harrowing ad flips the excitement of back-to-school for the anxiety over shootings. BBDO New York

Sandy Hook Promise’s “Back-to-School Essentials” has won the Emmy Awards’ Outstanding Commercial honor for 2020, beating nominated ads from Apple, Jeep, Amazon and P&G.

The stark, harrowing PSA for the school violence-prevention charity was created by longtime agency partner BBDO New York.

The 60-second spot darkly flips the excitement of back-to-school preparations on its head, reminding parents the only real essential kids need to bring to school this year is awareness of the warning signs of potential violence.

It shows children discussing the various items their parents have purchased for them for the new school year. The list begins innocently but grows increasingly darker: A girl uses her new socks, which she describes as a “real life-saver,” as a tourniquet for a friend who’s been shot.

The spot ends with the message: “It’s back to school time, and you know what that means. School shootings are preventable when you know the signs.”

Also nominated were Amazon’s “Before Alexa” Super Bowl ad by Droga5 London; “Bounce” for Apple AirPods from TBWA\Media Arts Lab; Jeep’s “Groundhog Day” from Highdive Advertising, which was named this year’s No. 1 Super Bowl ad by Adweek; and P&G’s “The Look” by Saturday Morning.

You can watch all the 2020 nominees here.

Last year, Nike’s polarizing “Dream Crazy” commercial created by Wieden+Kennedy Portland won the Outstanding Commercial Emmy.

In 2018, Procter & Gamble’s “The Talk” by BBDO New York scooped up first place.

Outside of the commercial category it was a big night for Pop TV’s Schitt’s Creek, which won all seven comedy categories to set a record for most wins in a single season for a comedy.

Other big winners included Succession, which was named Outstanding Drama Series; Watchmen, which won for Outstanding Miniseries; and HBO, which aired both of those shows and won a whopping 11 awards during the telecast, and 30 Emmys overall this year.

Netflix, which had dominated this year’s nominations with 160 nods, took home only two awards during Sunday’s telecast, finishing a distant second to HBO in overall wins. The full list of this year’s Emmy winners can be found here.

@saramayspary Sara Spary is a freelance journalist based in London. She's been a reporter for eight years, covering advertising and consumer brands.