Cannes Lions

The New Recruits

ENERGY BBDO, Chicago / CHANGE THE REF / 2023

Awards:

4 Bronze Cannes Lions
2 Shortlisted Cannes Lions
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Overview

Entries

Credits

Overview

Background

According to the Defense Casualty Analysis System, the number of American active-duty military deaths between 2001 and 2020 was 25,527. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of US children aged 5-18 that were killed by firearms in that same period was an astonishing 42,507.

Change the Ref is a gun control group started by Manuel and Patricia Oliver after their son, Joaquin, was murdered in the Parkland school shooting. As part of their mission to end the gun violence epidemic, they wanted to draw attention to this absurd statistic. It really shouldn’t be safer for Americans to go to war than it is to go to school.

Idea

The United States military is a major advertiser in the United States, spending millions annually to attract new recruits.

To draw attention to the absurd statistic that more children have been killed by guns in the United States in the last 20 years than all American active-duty military personnel, we created our own army recruiting campaign.

We depicted young children dressed as solders fighting in warzones with the message: “Send your children to the army. It’s safer than sending them to school.”

Strategy

The US military spends over $3 billion annually to accomplish its recruitment goals, with the result that the American public are constantly bombarded with recruitment messaging. In addition, there are over 4,400 military recruiting offices across the U.S. They’re a feature of the American landscape.

The strategy was to imitate the style of these recruiting messages and offices to create work that was both immediately familiar to Americans and also extremely jarring.

Execution

The United States military is a major advertiser in the United States, spending over $3 billion annually to attract new recruits.

To draw attention to the absurd statistic that more children have been killed by guns in the United States in the last 20 years than all American active-duty military personnel, we created our own army recruiting campaign.

We depicted young children dressed as solders fighting in warzones with the message: “Send your children to the army. It’s safer than sending them to school.”

Outcome

People were directed to the Change the Ref website, where they were encouraged to take part in the school walkouts that shook America in the spring of 2023. Thousands of students nationwide walked out of class to demand action from lawmakers and gun makers on gun violence.

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