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Sandy Hook Promise’s Gut Wrenching PSA Gives Katy Perry’s ‘Teenage Dream’ Harrowing New Meaning

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Real school shooting survivors perform the track in powerful film from BBDO New York and SMUGGLER

Sandy Hook Promise’s Gut Wrenching PSA Gives Katy Perry’s ‘Teenage Dream’ Harrowing New Meaning

As students return to school after a year of the most gun violence on record, Sandy Hook Promise is launching its latest PSA to underscore that being a teenager is not the carefree life it once was portrayed to be. By subverting the famous ode to teenage innocence -- Katy Perry’s 'Teenage Dream' -- with a re-recording featuring real school shooting survivors reciting the lyrics, the emotive PSA illustrates how the teenage dream is stolen from those impacted by school shootings and underscores the critical importance of prevention. 

School shootings should not be a part of growing up. The tragic impact of a school shooting affects the loved ones of those who were killed and survivors, like those in this PSA, carry mental and emotional wounds -- beyond the physical scars -- that never truly heal. 

The state of youth mental health coming out of the pandemic and last year’s record levels of gun violence has educators, parents, students and organizations like Sandy Hook Promise deeply worried about the possibility of a 'powder keg' effect. The message to 'know the signs' to prevent violence is crucial for this year’s back-to-school season, as many kids report experiencing mental and emotional challenges including feelings of extreme stress, anxiety, isolation, and depression. SHP provides a downloadable 'Know the Signs' guide that highlights many of the warning signs of violence to look for and seek help. The guide is available at

“While we debate mask mandates to protect our kids in schools, the epidemic of gun violence rages on with our kids in more danger than ever,” said Nicole Hockley, co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise and mother of Dylan who was killed in the Sandy Hook School shooting. “This year has been the deadliest for gun violence ever recorded. The combination of extreme mental and emotional challenges and greater access to guns increases the risk for school shootings and other acts of self-harm and violence. I encourage everyone to learn the warning signs and speak up to get help before it’s too late.” 

SHP partnered with BBDO New York and SMUGGLER to produce this short film, as with its previous PSAs, including the Emmy Award-winning “Back-to-School Essentials,” the Emmy-nominated “Point of View,” and multiple award-winning “Evan.” To date, SHP’s PSAs have won a combined 22 prestigious Cannes Lion awards. Dini von Mueffling Communications (DVMC), which has also worked on the previous films, will publicise the campaign.

“All the stories we tell with Sandy Hook Promise are human stories - about the people on either side of the gun in a shooting. It’s how we connect with our audience in a relatable, emotional way,” said Peter Alsante, executive creative director for BBDO New York. “‘Teenage Dream’ tells the ultimate human story, about what real teenagers have lost as a result of gun violence.”

“We just don’t realise what a giant and ongoing problem school shootings are. For most of us it's just another shooting on TV but, for these kids and their families, the effects linger long after the shooting stops,” said Henry-Alex Rubin, Oscar-nominated and Emmy Award-winning director. “I’m hoping this film can honour those who have endured or survived this kind of violence.” 

SHP partnered with its Media Advisory Board and PHD Media to help spread this critical message. Media for the PSA has been generously donated by Facebook, Snapchat, Teads, Viacom, Spotify, Pandora, Amazon, Conde Nast, Vox Media, Group Nine Media, Reddit, Forbes, Gannett, The Atlantic, Penske Media, Intersection, Twitch, Verizon, and Trusted Media Brands. To donate media for this campaign, email

To date, more than 14 million people nationwide have participated in Sandy Hook Promise’s lifesaving Know the Signs programs that focus on gun violence prevention by training youth and adults how to identify at-risk behaviour and intervene to get help. Through these no-cost programs, Sandy Hook Promise has averted multiple school shooting plots, teen suicides, and countless other acts of violence. 

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Creative Agency: BBDO New York

Chief Creative Officer, Worldwide: David Lubars

Executive Creative Director: Peter Alsante

Creative Director: Jim Connolly

Art Director: Samantha Spellman

Copywriter: Sandi Spino

Executive Producer, Director of Content Production: Alex Gianni

Producer: Molly Ross

Designer: Jong Yeu Wu

Senior Music Producer: Julia Millison

SVP Senior Director: Lindsey Cash

SVP Account Director: Ann Kim

Account Executive: Charlotte Manzone

VP Planning Director: Ben Bass

Planner: Kamillah Collins

Influencer Manager: Lucy Bennett

SVP Director of Production Services: Jessica Nugent

Business Manager: Grace Kelly


PR agency: Dini von Mueffling Communications

Founder and CEO: Dini von Mueffling

Publicist: Stephanie Morris

Publicist: Lily Seibert


Media Agency: PHD

Strategy Director: Nichole Verost

Strategist: Jake Brady

Activation: Caitlin Crawford, Grace Brandus, Jessi Searing, Natalie Stephan, Rachel Easton, Emma Rayder

Donation Outreach: Steven Bloom (OMG), Bryan Master (OMG), Seth Glosman


Production Company: SMUGGLER

Director: Henry-Alex Rubin

Executive Producer: Patrick Milling-Smith / Brian Carmody / Drew Santarsiero

Head of Production: Alex Hughes

Producer: Leah Allina

Associate Producer: Michelle Mehn / Mark Perez

Line Producer (New York Prep): Catalina Restrepo

Production Supervisor: Holland Kemp

Assistant Production Supervisor: Carly Rehm

1st AD: Anthony Dimino

Director of Photographer: David Devlin

Production Designer: Alex Fagin

Wardrobe Stylist: Young-Ah Kim/Jessica Bonanza

Casting Directors: Leah Allina and Lev Abramoff


Editorial / Conform & Finish Company: MackCut

Executive Producer: Gina Pagano

Editor: Ian MacKenzie

Assistant Editor: Cooper McLane

Lead Flame Artist: Jimmy Hayhow

Interview Editors: Franklin Ponce & Mike Leuis


Telecine Company: Color Collective

Telecine Artist: Alex Bickel

Executive Producer: Claudia Guevara


Music Company: Human

Audio Post: Post Human

Creative Lead and Chief Engineer: Sloan Alexander

Executive Producer: James Dean Wells

Arrangers: Thomas Kerry & Sloan Alexander

Song: “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry

Genres: Dialogue, People

Categories: Education, Corporate, Social and PSAs

BBDO New York, Mon, 13 Sep 2021 14:30:38 GMT