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Jakob Marky: Sandy Hook Promise

Young people have felt the stresses of isolation greatly. They’ve missed graduations and proms. Been detached from friends and family. Stayed in their bedrooms 20 hours a day. Been constantly plugged in online. These kinds of emotional strain can lead to various forms of violence – not just shootings, but also suicide and self-harm.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?...Recent studies show more than 70% of teenagers are struggling with mental health concerns, and one in four has considered suicide. Suicide is now the second-leading cause of death among teenagers and these tragedies can be preventable.

Young people are also secretive around parents and carers, who need to look for subtle signs of trouble brewing. Sandy Hook Promise and BBDO New York have created a series of three short videos that reflect the anxiety, isolation, pressure, boredom, and incessant information overload that teenagers are experiencing. Their PSA campaign, The Kids Are Not Alright is a national call to action for parents and other caring adults to learn the signs of a child in emotional distress and get help before it’s too late.

“We may think kids are resilient, but the truth is the kids are not alright,” stated Nicole Hockley, co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise and mother of Dylan who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. “More youths are struggling with mental health issues and heightened depression and anxiety as a result of the pandemic. And it’s our responsibility to listen to them, support and protect them.”

Even as the US begins to reopen, it is a long way from going back to normal and young people are far from being free of the stress Covid brought. Students will have to deal with the stress of a new school year combined with adapting to the new school environment that includes social distancing. Many will have lost those they love to Covid. Research groups are predicting that there will be more “deaths of despair” related to drugs, alcohol, and suicide, as we continue to battle COVID. According to the Well Being Trust brief, the US can expect between 27,644 and 154,037 additional deaths of despair, contingent on the extent of the pandemic.

The films are evocatively named and wonderfully directed and produced, their short, sharp cuts mirroring the angst young people can be feeling, delivering a message that allows parents and carers to feel what young people are feeling – where statements such as, “they missing graduation”, “they’re detached from friends” can be dismissed

Sweetshop’s Jakob Marky, who directed the three commercials, commented, “As a Swede, gun violence has been a pretty abstract topic. We read about it, but we do not experience it firsthand. But reading the copy from the creatives at BBDO, something changed. It is a powder keg, with Covid, schools locked down and the number of guns and mental health issues in the country, something needed to be done. Interestingly enough, I watch Schindler’s list, the day before I received the brief. In the film, they talk about a Jewish proverb, ‘You save a life, you save a world’. I hope that we can save a few worlds.

“I have two kids of my own, who are online all the time. I hope parents watch this campaign on TV, then look at their kids who are online, and then look back at the television. There’s a world our teenagers are part of that we know very little about. Because of social media, they’re on the school yard 100% of the time without us knowing about it. I hope these ads help parents to visualise what it feels like for a teenager to live online for a year and then come back into society.”


Creative Agency: BBDO, New York
Chief Creative Officer, Worldwide: David Lubars
SVP Senior Creative Director: Peter Alsante
Creative Directors: Kara Goodrich & Cesar Finamori
SVP, Group Executive Producer: Alex Gianni
Producer: Tatiana Lanier
Production Coordinator: Annie Hutchings
Music Producer: Julia Millison
Business Manager: Grace Kelly
SVP Senior Director: Lindsey Cash
VP Account Director: Ann Kim
VP Planning Director: Ben Bass
Planner: Kamillah Collins

Production Company: Sweetshop, USA
Director: Jakob Marky

Executive Producers: Jeff Miller & George Meeker
Producer: Matt Zion-Basile

Co-Production Company: Office of Development & Design (ODD)
Design Director: Gary Breslin
Executive Producers: Matthew Turke, Tim Case
Producer: Linden Carty

Editorial Company: School Editing, Toronto
Circuit & Disappear Editor: Ben Canny
Bomb Editor: Stacey Foster Jackson (via ODD)
Co-Editors: Chelsea Smith (via ODD), Taylor McWade
Executive Producer, Partner: Sarah Brooks

Design & Animation: Office of Development & Design (ODD)

Creative Director: Gary Breslin
Animators: Hayato Yamane & Paul Todaro

Finishing Company: Fort York, Toronto
Flame Artists: Melissa Vasiliev, Luke White & James Marin
Producer: Armen Bunag
Executive Producer: Erica Bourgault-Assaf

Telecine Company: Alter Ego, Toronto
Senior Colourist: Conor Fisher
Colour Assistant: Daniel Saavedra
Producer: Spencer Butt
Senior Producer: Jane Garrah

Mix & Sound Design Company: Sound Lounge, New York
Engineers & Sound Designers: Pete Crimi & Justin Kooy
Executive Producer: Susie Shuttlewroth
Senior Producer: Lauren Mullen

Casting Director: Alexa Magnotto
Producer: Camila Dayson Aravena
Production Coordinator: Matt Smith

This article was first published by The Stable on May 13 2021.