Grey Tricked Moviegoers Into Watching Extreme Violence for Latest Gun Control PSA Project

By Patrick Coffee 

Action movies tend to have lots of gun violence. And Grey New York is very much pro-gun control.

This fact is pretty obvious given the agency’s past work for advocacy group States United to Prevent Gun Violence, and we recently participated in an event with Ari Halper (who is now FCB’s CCO) at which he discussed leading the campaign and reiterated his personal support for sensible laws regulating the use and purchase of firearms.

Said laws will never pass in our current political climate, but Grey is still finding new ways to demonstrate its dedication to the cause.


In its latest work/stunt for States United, the agency pulled a trick on some moviegoers by getting them to see a fake movie that includes some very real and legitimately disturbing footage of murders committed with firearms.

That was our warning.

The worst part was the guy who straight-up said, “I murdered my wife.” Wow.

The release and some people who worked on the campaign tell us how they did it: the advocacy group worked with an outside recruiting agency to identify people who love action movies and wanted to check out the new (fake) movie. No, they were not plants.

Participants knew the violence would be intense, but they didn’t know it would be real. We hear that one viewer really did claim that the experience had changed her mind on guns, saying, “it’s crazy how this world gets excited about things that kill innocent people.”

And yes, they all signed an NDA form.

We’re still not sure that this argument will work on people who really like firearms, and you may recall that Grey’s “Gun Shop” stunt for the same client attracted a whole lot of mixed responses from various media entities. The right-wing blog world has yet to weigh in on this one to our knowledge, but States United was wise to disable the comments on the YouTube page.

Not to make light of a very, very serious subject, but didn’t the iffy production values and unrecognizable names in that trailer give participants some clue that this experience wasn’t quite what it seemed?