Manuel Oliver Speaks as His Son Joaquin, Killed at Parkland, in Moving Clio Speech

Change the Ref co-founder implores agencies to do more to fight gun violence

Manuel and Patricia Oliver, whose son was murdered in the Parkland shooting four years ago, continue to find powerful ways to fight gun violence, including a remarkable speech at the Clio Awards on Thursday, where Manuel accepted the Advertiser of the Year award—as Joaquin.

Donning a paper mask of his slain son's face, Manuel spoke as Joaquin. "What's up, bro?" he began. "My name is Joaquin Oliver. And I was shot in my school. And you have been listening to my parents for the last four years. ... I'm telling you from my soul what happened to me."

Over the next five minutes, he delivered a moving speech challenging agencies to do more to fight gun violence—much as Leo Burnett did in creating "The Lost Class" for Change the Ref, the activist group founded by the Olivers in 2018. "The Lost Class" was a 2021 stunt that duped two pro-gun advocates into delivering a commencement address to 3,044 empty chairs—the number of students who didn't graduate high school last year because they'd been killed by guns.

"The Lost Class" won four Grand Clios on Thursday, earning Change the Ref honors for Advertiser of the Year, and Leo Burnett the prize for Agency of the Year.

"Bring ideas to the table," Manuel demanded of the crowd. "Make change. Make a difference. The advertising industry is the most powerful force out there, because you can change the future." 

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards, editor of Muse by Clio, and host of the podcast Tagline. He is the former creative editor of Adweek.

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