Sign up for our monthly GEMology email to receive company news and industry-related content that propels you toward growth.

Clever Creative: Discreet Messages

There are plenty of messages in this ad, especially between Evan and his pen pal, but are you missing the most important one?

Clever Creative: Discreet Messages

Posted Thursday December 08th, 2016 by in Creativity + Art.

At some point in our lives we’ve all sat down at a desk that had a message scratched into it. Today’s Clever Creative from Sandy Hook Promise depicts a teenage boy doing just that, and finding responses to the notes he leaves on that library desk.

While you may just think this ad is about teenagers leaving each other discreet messages on a desk, a surprise ending reveals there is one message you may not have caught, and the dangers of missing it.

Four years ago this month, Sandy Hook Elementary School was attacked by a shooter. The loved ones of those lost during the shooting came together to create the nonpartisan, nonprofit group, Sandy Hook Promise. According to their website, “... our intent is to honor all victims of gun violence by turning our tragedy into a moment of transformation by providing programs and practices that protect children and prevent the senseless, tragic loss.” This ad was created by the advertising agency BBDO, in New York, and was the first piece of creative for the organization.

Why our GEMites liked this Clever Creative:

When you are first watching the ad, you’re immediately drawn into the story, wondering, “Will Evan find out who is writing back to him?” “Will this mystery girl and him end up together?” “Wait, what is this ad actually for?” And by the end, you’re sitting on the edge of your seat, face inches away from the screen, watching more intently to find what you had missed. We love this ad because of its ability to get people invested in the story, and continue to engage them for the entire 2 minutes and 28 seconds of footage.

Our GEMites also love the music choice for this ad. To go along with the duplicity of the story, the creatives chose upbeat music about one of the most famed love stories in music history: Johnny Cash and June Carter. This only adds to the tableau and deepens the distraction from the real message. Also, their choice to muffle the music during the recap of the signs you missed increased the eeriness of the second part of the ad.

Why our fellow creatives should like this:

The agency’s storytelling abilities are so strong that they completely distracted you from seeing what what is right in front of you, which is actually the basis of the powerful message behind the ad. All creatives should strive to be able to captivate an audience as effectively as this ad did.

Another reason our fellow creatives should like this ad is because of its deception. The creative concept not only keeps the audience in suspense, it also provides thought-provoking conversation about our need to be observant to what is happening around us. They decided to utilize the art of misdirection, a tactic employed by pickpockets, but rarely used by advertisers, and it’s genius. The diversion of the love story to hide the signs of a shooter worked perfectly for this particular ad. We think this false pretense causes a daunting gut reaction when the true message is revealed, and that’s why it has seen so much success. This ad was only released six days ago and already has about 5,500,000 views on YouTube. That kind of exposure only happens when you create an intriguing ad.

Sandy Hook Promise’s ad was able to prove a point and get a message across, which is that you may not always see the signs of a shooter, but you should know what they are so you know what to look out for. Their ad’s storytelling capabilities, use of misdirection and music/sound choices are why it is a success that has gone viral in under a week.

Let us know what you think, and look out for next week’s installment of Clever Creatives!

If you’re looking for some clever creative of your own, feel free to contact us.


Scroll, or tap/click a list item to filter posts by that tag.

« How to Put the "Tag" in Tagline 4 Ways to Use Your Down Cycle to Grow »

This website uses cookies to collect user data and analytics to improve your experience. By using our website, you are agreeing to our cookie policy. Click "Accept" to proceed, or review our Privacy Policy.