Droga5's New Ad About Guns in the Home Is Perfectly Unsettling
Few tragedies are more heartbreaking than children being killed or maimed by playing with a loaded gun that's unsecured in their home.
It happens every day. Shockingly, it happens eight times a day in America, according to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. In response to the epidemic, the group today released a powerful new campaign, in conjunction with The Ad Council, that addresses the issue—and hopes to solve the problem in part by simply naming it.
The campaign, crafted by Droga5, introduces the phrase "family fire" to describe these unintentional shootings. The idea is to define the issue—much as the phrases "drunk driving" and "secondhand smoke" defined those issues—and, by crystallizing awareness in this way, hopefully make it easier to combat.
The centerpiece of the "End Family Fire" campaign is a sobering two-minute spot featuring a father and son discussing the gun in their own home. The writing is sharp, the performances deft and unsettling, and the ending quietly devastating.
See the PSA here:
Directed by Jim Cummings of Here Be Dragons, the eerie spot seems designed to spook the viewer without veering directly into shock tactics. The ending, in particular, suggests the whole scene was imagined by the father—and that the boy, in fact, may already be dead from playing with the father's gun.
Various moments throughout the film support this, some more evident on second viewing. The film opens with the child lying face down and motionless, which had seemed innocent at first. Some of the dialogue ("I haven't found them yet, but I'm sure I can," the boy says of the bullets) also clearly suggests the scene is a hallucination.
The craft reinforces the sense of loss, particularly at the 0:51 mark, when all of the color drains out of the frame as the boy reveals he knows where the gun is hidden.
Duncan Marshall, founding partner of Droga5, tells Muse that the twist ending was "a way to have the viewer keep thinking about what the outcome was—was it all a real conversation, a remembered conversation or simply a conversation the father is wishing he'd had with his son who's now tragically no longer there?"
Here's more from our chat with Marshall:
How did you arrive at the decision to invent a phrase, "family fire," that could help this problem? Was it a mix of research and intuition?
In our initial rounds of in-home research, we realized how difficult it was to have a constructive conversation about gun safety. We also realized that, though there was extensive coverage of gun-control issues, particularly in the context of school shootings, there was limited discussion of the eight kids a day who are unintentionally killed or injured by an unlocked, loaded gun.
In order to bring the issue to the forefront and facilitate conversation, we realized it needed a name: Family Fire. Inspired by successful public-health campaigns that coined the terms "drunk driving" and "secondhand smoke," we believed that, by naming and defining the issue, we could work to eliminate it.
Can a single phrase like that can change behavior?
Our ultimate goal is to make Family Fire a household term. We hope that everyone who interacts with our content walks away with a clear understanding of the extreme risks that come with keeping guns in a home with children and of the necessary steps to safely store your gun.
There are a lot of ways to dramatize this problem, even humor. This spot is much more sobering. Why go in this direction?
The "End Family Fire" campaign is meant to reach all families with children in the home. Our approach is nonpartisan and focused on safety. We hope that families with a gun in the home will reevaluate their home-protection needs and take the necessary steps to be safe and responsible gun owners. We aren't trying to take away guns or be anti-gun but rather encourage the safe storage of guns.
What was the most challenging thing about producing the spot?
Performance. If the boy and father didn't connect in a credible, loving way, the emotional strength of the piece would have been lost.
Are you hoping the "twist ending" will make the spot more shareable?
The twist was meant to create a conversation between families with guns in the home, but yes, hopefully more shareable, too. Our launch film observes a conversation between an average father and son in an average home in America. The back-and-forth of questions from the son and answers from the dad begins with a simple, "Dad, do we have a gun?" and from there takes us on a powerful and agonizing journey to an end where the audience cannot be sure whether this was a real conversation or an imagined one between a father and a son who was tragically killed by a gun in the home. We hope this ignites a reaction and, in turn, encourages folks to share the spot and take action.
The overhead views in the images on the website are interesting. Can you talk about that design and what it's meant to achieve?
We wanted to be able to very simply move through a home, pointing out the dangers and giving advice on safe gun ownership as we went. Drifting slowly upward in one move seemed effortless—you don't want to ask people to jump through hoops when you're giving them pointers on an emotionally delicate subject.
Check out some of the print work below.
Client : The Brady Campaign
Campaign Title: End Family Fire Justin
Launch Date : Aug. 8, 2018
Agency : Droga5 NY
Creative Chairman : David Droga
CEO: Sarah Thompson
Chief Creative Officer : Neil Heymann
Chief Creative Officer : Ted Royer
Creative Partner : Duncan Marshall
Creative Director : Ash Tavassoli
Creative Director : Jake Shaw
Copywriter : Frank Garcia
Art Director: Giulia Magaldi
Group Design Director: Rich Greco
Jr. Designer: Andrew Diemer
Director of Film Production: Jesse Brihn
Producer, Film: Zack Grant
Producer, Film: Nathan Pardee
Co-Director of Interactive Production : Tasha Cronin
Co-Director of Interactive Production : Justin Durazzo
Senior Producer, Interactive : Andrew Puzzuoli
Associate Producer, Interactive : Colin Neff
Director of Art Production: Cliff Lewis
Senior Producer, Print: Alyssa Dolman
Associate Producer, Art: Elena Baxter
Senior Business Affairs Manager : Whitney Vose
Legal: Zachary Werner
Retoucher: John Clendenen
Graphics Studio Manager: Virginia Vargas
Co-Head of Strategy: Colm Murphy
Strategist: Matt Forster
Strategist: Midori Swaim
Communications Strategist : Hillary Fink
Executive Group Account Director : Agnes Fischer
Group Account Director: Chris Burgess
Account Director: Alli Ray
Account Manager: Jake Stopper
Associate Account Manager: Ashley Diddell
Project Manager : Rachel Murad
Project Manager : Kaki White
Co-President: Kristin Brown
Vice President, Programs : Kyleanne Hunter
Assistant Director, Partnerships : Bettina Lanyi
Consultant: Priscilla Natkins
Production Company ("Justin" Film): Here Be Dragons
Director: Jim Cummings
DOP: Alex Disenhof
Executive Producer : David Richards
Executive Producer : Kamila Propok
Producer: Natalie Metzger
Production Company (Website Film): Residency Content
Director: Drew Bourdet
DOP: Dustin Lane
Executive Producer : Gaetan Rousseau
Producer: John Morrow
Editorial: Final Cut
Editor: Jim Helton
Assistant Editor : Dan Berk
Executive Producer : Sarah Roebuck
Head of Production: Penny Ensley
Post Production: Method Studios
Executive Producer : Angela Lupo
Senior Producer : Graham Dunglinson
Production Coordinator : Kate Fitzpatrick
Flame Artist, VFX Lead: Tom McCullough
Post Production (Website Film): Hero Studios
Color Correct: Company 3
Colorist: Tim Masick
Senior Producer: Kevin Breheny
Music: Future Perfect
Composer / Sound Designer : Victor Magro
Music Producer: Maxwell Gosling
Audio: Heard City
Mixer: Evan Mangiamele
Executive Producer: Sasha Awn
Audio (Website Film): duotone audio post
Sound Designer / Mixer : Andy Green
Executive Producer: Greg Tiefenbrun
Interactive Production Company: Superhero Cheesecake
Creative Director : Peter Coolen
Director of Technology : Rian Verhagen
Executive Producer: Niels Van Esch
Photographer: Paul McGeiver