Sandy Hook Promise Follows Up ‘Evan’ With a News Report From Tomorrow’s School Shooting

We'll still say we never saw it coming

The fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting is Thursday. And Sandy Hook Promise, the gun violence prevention nonprofit born from that tragedy, remains focused squarely on preventing a repeat of the tragedy.

A new PSA, “Tomorrow’s News,” follows last year’s “Evan,” which Sandy Hook Promise co-founder and managing director Mark Barden told Adweek was “an important milestone” for the organization in communicating that “everybody has the potential to prevent something bad from happening if they know the signs.” That spot led to “a huge uptick” in awareness for the organization, he added.

In addition to quickly eclipsing the organization’s goal of 1 million views (eventually totaling around 150 million), “Evan” went on to win myriad industry awards for creativity and was named to Adweek’s list of the 10 best ads of 2016.

Designed to mimic a local news broadcast, “Tomorrow’s News” opens on a newscaster reporting on a school shooting, the day before it actually happens. She interviews a series of the shooters’ classmates and teachers, as well as a parent of one of the victims. All of them describe how they will react to the impending event, with many expressing remorse for not having done or said something to prevent it or pointing to signs that could have predicted the shooter’s behavior.

“Tomorrow’s News” concludes with the message, “You can stop tomorrow’s shootings if you recognize the warning signs today,” followed by a call for viewers to donate to Sandy Hook Promise via its website.

The ad will run on Sandy Hook Promise’s social pages and will be among the first Facebook videos to feature the platform’s donation button, on posts from both Sandy Hook Promise and its influencers. The campaign also includes a new song by Sheryl Crow, which debuted today on ABC’s Good Morning America and will be available as a name-your-price download (minimum donation of 99 cents) with proceeds going to Sandy Hook Promise. On Thursday, Sandy Hook Promise will invite participants to engage in a “moment of silence” via Facebook Live to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting.

Barden views “Tomorrow’s News” as “broader and less targeted” than “Evan,” with a “different feel” and “different target audience.”

“It seems like almost every day is the day before [an instance of gun violence],” Barden said. “And so, like ‘Evan,’ there are warning signs that we need to be cognizant of and we need to be able to take the next step to prevent a tragedy.”

He added: “It speaks to the whole idea that if you could go to the day before, you could do something about it. So consider every day the day before, and be looking for those warning signs, and do what you can to take that next step.”

“The goal … was to show that these events can be preventable, so tomorrow’s news can change if you know the signs,” BBDO New York associate creative director Bianca Guimaraes told Adweek.

“Last year’s ad was more about awareness, this year is more a turn to action,” added BBDO New York creative director Peter Alsante, who also worked on “Evan.”

While “Evan” introduced the idea that “these signs exist,” he added, “Tomorrow’s News” is “part two of that,” telling viewers, “here’s what you can do to change the future.”

The agency committed to accurately recreating the feel of a local news report, including “little mistakes that usually happen on local news,” Guimaraes said, such as delayed responses and a reporter waiting for an audio feed before beginning an interview. “It has those little flaws that make it feel authentic.”

The police in the ad were portrayed by real officers as well, one of whom Guimaraes told Adweek was a first responder for a shooting in California.

“The closer we could get to reality in the way we create the story, the more we could remind people that this is reality,” Alsante said.

While it may not match the impact of the surprise reveal in “Evan,” “Tomorrow’s News” effectively alludes to the type of training and prevention programs that Sandy Hook Promise provides to schools free of charge as part of its “Know the Signs” initiative.

“We wanted to incorporate enough of those signs we’re so used to seeing in the news,”Alsante said, balancing Sandy Hook Promise’s messaging about its “Know the Signs” initiative with relatable details.

Sandy Hook Promise has already had some striking success stories with such programs, lending credence to the premise behind “Tomorrow’s News.”

“We’ve had stories come back from the field,” Barden told Adweek, “that students who have followed the model have, in fact, been able to take the next step, tell a trusted adult and an intervention was made that exposed the final planning stages of school shootings—in a few cases already—an intervention was made and it was stopped.”

“We know the model works,” he added.

BBDO New York, which worked with Sandy Hook Promise pro-bono on “Evan” and “Tomorrow’s News” has a relationship with the nonprofit dating back years, with earlier efforts including 2014’s “Monsters Under the Bed.”

“This is a cause that we’re all very passionate about,” Guimaraes said, “and we think they’re doing an amazing job. … We’ve been fortunate to have partners like them that also believe in the ideas that we share…that are actually trying to cut through the clutter and get people to learn in a different way.”

Barden said that Sandy Hook Promise has “every intention of continuing our wonderful partnership with BBDO” in the future, adding that they’ve been “an amazing partner.”


Title: “Tomorrow’s News”

Agency: BBDO New York
David Lubars, Chief Creative Officer, Worldwide
Greg Hahn, Chief Creative Officer, New York
Peter Alsante, Creative Director
Bianca Guimaraes, Associate Creative Director
Tom Kraemer, Copywriter
Julian Katz, Group Executive Producer
Molly Ross, Junior Producer
Lindsey Cash, VP Account Director
Cailin Gibbons, Account Director
Ben Bass, Senior Planner
Michael Schonfeld, Junior Communications Planner
Lucy Bennett, Influencer Manager

Client: Sandy Hook Promise
Mark Barden, Founder & Managing Director
Nicole Hockley, Founder & Managing Director
Tim Makris, Founder & Managing Director

Production Company: Smuggler
Henry-Alex Rubin, Director
Patrick Milling Smith & Brian Carmody, Executive Producers
Drew Santarsiero, Executive Producer
Cat Restepo, Line Producer
Nathan Wilson, Director of Photography
Andrew Colon, Chief Operating Officer

Editorial Company: Work Editorial
Erica Thompson, Executive Producer
Chris Delarenal. Producer
Ben Jordan, Editor
Winter Brihn, Assistant Editor

Telecine Company: Company 3
Tim Masick, Telecine Artist

Conform/Finish Company: Blacksmith VFX

Audio Finishing: Heard City
Eric Warzecha, Mix Artist
Sasha Awn, Executive Producer
Andrea Lewis, Producer
Gloria Pitagorsky, Managing Director

@ErikDOster Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.