Grey Canada’s gun control PSAs find large audience online

Canadian-made creative wades into the contentious American gun debate

A public service announcement featuring a child holding an assault rifle has been shared far and wide on the internet this week. The ad, which was showcased on BuzzFeed, calls for stronger gun laws in America and is part of a public appeal campaign being carried out by activist organization Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

The work itself, however, was done by Grey Canada, which is based in Toronto.

The ad, which was accidentally posted online for 20 minutes on Sunday night before its scheduled release, spread quickly through social media. By midnight Monday, it had been shared 42,000 times on Facebook.

A corresponding video has also been released, showing bullet casings flying out of a gun while the names of cities affected by gun violence scroll across the screen. Both ads encourage Americans to support gun reform by speaking up to Congress.

Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America, said that Grey Group’s chief creative officer, Patrick Scissons, got in touch with her after he saw her speaking on television and offered to create a campaign on a pro-bono basis. According to Watts, her group’s mandate “fit with his frame of mind.”

“I think Toronto has a great perspective on gun reform,” she said. “They have some very sensible, common sense laws in Canada around guns. I’m sure Canadians watch what America is doing with gun laws and think it’s absurd.”

Watts said that Grey Canada understood the group’s desire to be both mothers and gun reform activists, and that they did not hesitate to create a campaign that, while arresting, could be seen as controversial given its intensity.

“We want to be the Mothers Against Drunk Driving of gun reform, but we wanted to make sure we weren’t soft,” said Watts. “We didn’t want to be squishy. We wanted to have some teeth and we wanted action.”

Neither the print or video campaign sought media buys, as Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America is a non-profit organization. However, Watts said that in addition to social media circulation, several prominent publications and media outlets have approached the group about running the ads.

Other ads in the print series feature assault weapons beside comparatively harmless objects banned in America to, as a press release says, “project child welfare,” such as Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs, which are banned in the United States, and the game of dodge ball, which has been banned by some American elementary schools.

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