There is one new back to school commercial attracting more attention than the usual ones. Earlier this week, Sandy Hook Promise released a harrowing PSA, showing children cheerfully showing off their new school gear, but with an unfortunate twist. Everything they have is being used to save their lives during a school shooting.
The ad, titled "Back-to-School Essentials," begins with a boy cheerfully showing off his backpack and a girl showing off her colorful binders. But as the ad goes on, it becomes more serious. A boy shows off his headphones, which keep him from hearing gunshots in the library. Another boy boasts about his new sneakers, which help him run to the exits. A girl calls her socks a "real lifesaver" because they can be used as a tourniquet to save another student.
In the last scene, a girl texts "I love you Mom" to her mother from her new phone in the bathroom with tears streaming down her face.
"I finally got my own phone to stay in touch with my mom," the girl says before closing her eyes as the sound of footsteps are heard.
"It's back to school time and you know what that means," reads a message at the end of the video. "School shootings are preventable when you know the signs."
"Gun violence and school shootings are not easy subjects, and they shouldn't be fun to watch," Nicole Hockley, the co-founder of Sandy Hook Promise and a mother whose 6-year-old son was killed in the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, told The New York Times. "The more we step away from reality, the less respect we're giving to those who have to live through this."
Since the video debuted on The Today Show, it has gone viral. It has more than 12.1 million views on Twitter and more than 1.89 million views on YouTube.
According to CNBC, the ad was created with BBDO New York. It will be Sandy Hook Promise's biggest campaign since it was founded, with over $2 million worth of donated media placements. The ad will help raise awareness for the "Know the Signs" programs Sandy Hook Promise supports.
The ad comes as gun safety advocates have begun ramping up their efforts after more mass shootings in the U.S. Two mass shootings in August - one at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas and another at an entertainment district in Dayton, Ohio - happening within hours of each other galvanized even companies to push for gun reform.
Walmart said it would stop selling certain ammunition and would discourage customers from openly carrying weapons. On Sept. 12, 150 companies signed a letter urging the U.S. Senate to take action on gun safety by passing a bill requiring background checks on all gun sales. The companies also supported a strong "Red Flag" law to allow courts to "issue live-saving extreme risk protection orders."
Sandy Hook Promise was established after the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, where six adults and 20 children were killed. Last year, the group released "Point of View," a commercial filmed from the point of view of a gunman.
Photo credit: YouTube/Sandy Hook Promise