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

We'll still say we never saw it coming

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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.

@ErikDOster Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.