I'm trying to preempt larger gun control arguments because I'm not out to change anyone's opinion and I'm not going to change mine either. Any time there is a public policy lobby they are motivated as much by emotions as they are cold hard facts. And that's a horrible combo. With that in mind, I'm only going to critique this ad on the merits of the ad itself.
So with that in mind-- why in the hell did a Canadian ad agency produce a spot about gun control in America? Even before I saw the credits, I knew it from the woman's accent when she said "out." And yes, as an American it bugs me that a Canadian agency is making this spot, even if it's for an American client. It would be the same as if an American agency made a spot in support of the Parti Québécois, and more rights for Quebec of Anglo Canada, or a pro-fracking spot designed to influence public opinion in Alberta. My first inclination is to dismiss this ad on that merit alone. Is that fair? No. Do I care? No I don't. Canada's had its share of shootings, too. In schools or otherwise.
Now, visually, this ad is supposed to be scary and horrible, but all it does is remind me of the times I spent in elementary school, doing similar drills when we thought Russia was going to nuke us. We also had fire drills, and inclement weather drills, too. And kids still do. In California, when something even close to scary happens, like cops chasing a criminal down the street next to a school, parents are instantly notified by text message in order to pick their kids up, which seems a bit excessive to me, but the point is, we're pretty much already on near lockdown, threat watch anyway, at least in California. Moreover, despite the suggestiveness, the kids aren't showing that much fear. Not that I want this to be an exploitive film, but I'm not sensing the dread as much as I could. Then again, it's a minute and a half long spot that gets interrupted by random soundbites coming from the news as if they weren't sure the audience was going to know where this was headed.
Speaking of prepared-whether you're a gun rights restrictor or gun rights supporter supporter you can agree that really, the only thing separating this woman and her classroom is a door that can easily be opened by a crazy person. Emphasis on crazy. The teacher has no way of protecting her class from crazy, let alone guns and knives or any other weapon, except to hide from crazy. Because what we should also be talking about in this country but aren't really doing so is how do we deal with crazy in better way. If only there were a Mom's Against Crazy. Then maybe we could film a spot around that.
Agency: GREY Toronto
Chief Creative Officer: Patrick Scissons
Copywriter: Patrick Scissons
Agency Producer: Erica Metcalfe
Account Director: Darlene Remlinger
Production Company: Untitled Films
Director: Phil Brown
DOP: John Houtman
Executive Producer: Lexy Kavluk
Producer: Trudy Turner
Editorial: Saints/Griff Henderson
Audio: Eggplant/Roc Gagliese, Nathan Handy
Colorist: Alter Ego/Wade Odlum
Online: Topix VFX/Marco Polsinelli