Small Agency, Big Idea: Ueno rallies creatives to call attention to the 100 lives lost daily to gun violence
Ahead of Ad Age's 10th Annual Small Agency Conference in New Orleans July 30-31, we are highlighting standout work from the industry's tiny but mighty creative players. Here we dig into the latest from Ueno, a 65-person creative shop with offices in California, New York and Iceland, which teamed with Good Measure, a self-described “pop-up agency” that works on social good projects and one-man shop Van Holtz Co.
Each day in America, 100 people are killed with firearms. What should be a disturbing statistic has become the banal reality, the accepted price we all pay for living in this country, like filing taxes or sitting in traffic. But a group of small agencies is hoping to shake people out of their reverie with thought-provoking, sometimes unsettling art that drives home the magnitude of the problem, and they’re enlisting other shops to help.
The “100 Every Day” campaign begins rolling out today with a collection of intense and sobering posters chosen from submissions by people working in the industry. On the campaign website and across dedicated social channels, the messages are both subtle and conspicuous.
A stop sign riddled with bullet holes stands as lonely testament to the ubiquity of guns. An abstract series of dots fills in for a timeline of corpses. Though the campaign itself claims nonpartisanship, not all the artists adhere to it—in one execution, President Donald Trump is literally unable to see a schoolchild cowering behind a backpack.
The art series is a collaboration by Ueno, Good Measure and Van Holtz Co, a Portland-based one-man shop that partners with agencies and brands.
The project is ongoing, and will be looking for new posters over the next month, says Liz Donovan, marketing director at Ueno.
“We’re looking for original submissions that present a unique or stimulating perspective on the issue of gun violence,” she says. “While gun violence issues are inherently political, we’re hoping that each submission is less of an attack on specific politicians and focused more on the tragedy at hand.”
The idea for the campaign came out of one of Good Measure's "create-a-thons," for which it brings together more than 100 creative professionals for three days to brainstorm projects. In March, the teams gathered in New York City, which led to the "100 Every Day."
“We considered a few different topics for campaign development, including accessibility in design and the diversification of the creative class,” says Good Measure Founder Alex Anderson. “We decided on gun violence because of the passion that emerged around the topic from Ueno’s leadership team and our friend Kiu Yi, a freelance designer,” who contributed a piece of art titled “Loaded System," which turns the American flag into a handgun.
Other agencies and organizations are sourcing artists for submissions and sharing and supporting the work on their own channels. They include Funsize, McGarrah Jessee, Hyperakt, Upstatement, Alright Studio, The Black Sheep Agency, NUU Group, Janitor Creative Studio, Craft CMS and Awwwards. Those involved are also looking for other ways to spread the message, as well as beginning to plot out what a second phase of the campaign might look like.
Viewers who want to share the campaign can use #100EveryDay or recruit agencies or artists to submit additional art. The campaign is also encouraging donations to gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety.
“This isn’t the solution. It’s a means to inform, to encourage, to denounce, to scream and cry and create together. It’s a way for us to visualize the data that should horrify us,” says Anderson. “We’re not the ones doing the important work. Hopefully this project points others to organizations like Everytown. And definitely, by all means, call your lawmakers. Your voice means something, and it should be heard.”