Best of 2018 Digital/Integrated/Social Media No. 1: March for Our Lives (and beyond)

Broad effort touched by many included unusual music video from Kesha and her brother Sage Sebert from McCann NY and Mill+

Published On
Oct 12, 2018

Editor's Pick

Through New Year’s on Creativity, we’ll be counting down the best work and ideas of the year in various categories: TV/Film/Branded Content, Print/Out of Home/Design/Experiential and Digital/Integrated/Social.

At No. 1 in digital/integrated/social media was one of the year’s most powerful cultural movements, spawned by a group of indefatigable young men and women who refused to let the gun violence problem in United States become yet another blip in the news cycle. The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida made certain that mass shootings would remain top of mind for both politicians and voters through their dogged social media efforts and impassioned activism mobilizing supporters for the March for Our Lives. But their campaign didn’t stop there--their work inspired many others to amplify the message with impressive creative ideas, including McCann New York’s "The Vicious Cycle," the stirring music video seen above that carried the cause to the midterm elections, the agency’s “Price on Our Lives” effort that featured price tags students could wear to reflect how much they were “worth” to politicians who accept money from the NRA gun lobby and an Instagram coloring book from BBH.

Original Story:

Whether or not your life has been directly touched by gun violence, it's likely you've endured that seemingly endless loop in which the school shootings, the news reports, the mourning and the varied responses from politicians and protesters play on repeat. Once the fervor around one incident dies down, you're swept back in again with yet another headline.

The Parkland students behind March for Our Lives teamed up with pop artist Kesha, her brother Sage Sebert, McCann New York and Mill+ to bring this phenomenon to light in a powerful new music video, "The Most Vicious Cycle," aimed at getting viewers to vote in the midterms on Nov. 6. Airing hourly today on MTV and MTVu, it leverages the now-familiar storytelling device of a Rube Goldberg machine to illustrate the seemingly hopeless chain of events around school shootings and gun violence.

It opens on a teenage girl walking through a school corridor, but her sunny demeanor quickly changes once the barrel of an AR-15 enters the frame. From there, bullets fire, setting off a mechanical reaction that travels through the halls—a teacher tries to shield his students, protest posters drop from the ceiling, memorials of those lost to shootings appear. Throughout, a pensive new track, "Safe," written by Sebert in reaction to the Parkland shootings, plays.

In a mad man's world, happens every day.
I don't understand why the rules can't change.
I don't want to be a moment of silence.
I don't want to be an early grave.
When I'm walking through the halls I don't want to be brave.
I just want to be safe.

 

But once the video finishes, it plays a second time, and then a third, further driving home the notion of the "vicious cycle." Each rendition, though, is slightly different. For example, the posters featured within change, increasingly becoming a stronger call to action for viewers to get out and vote. In one version, names of the victims and the dates they died appear. And the room number on the classroom changes, showing that the violence is not isolated to a single place.

Along with the broadcast on MTV and MTVu, one version of the video featuring subtitles will appear in New York's Times Square. The parties involved will be sharing on social media, and they will also present the video in a Teen Vogue essay written by Kesha.

McCann New York conceived the idea as part of its ongoing gun violence awareness efforts. The McCann producer on the project, Gaby Levy, is a Marjory Stoneman Douglas alumnus and knew some of the victims and their families. Following the shooting, she approached agency leadership and colleagues about doing something the help the students. From those conversations came the idea of the Cannes Gold Lion-winning "Price on Our Lives" campaign that put a dollar amount on how much students' lives are worth to politicians, as well as the "vicious cycle" idea.

When the McCann team first began working on the latter, no artist was attached, but the agency had ties to Kesha from her previous work on the agency's "Universal Love" campaign for MGM Resorts, which recreated classic love songs for the LGBTQ community. The shop also brought in the production talents from content studio Mill+ and VFX company The Mill.

Once all the talents came together, the final film started to gel. It turned out Kesha's brother had already written a track in reaction to the Parkland tragedies. "Unbeknownst to us was that when the original idea for the video came to be, Sage had already written this song from his own personal experience," says Levy.

While the song hadn't been fully produced at the time, it took full shape as part of the project, with Kesha on vocals and Chika, the up-and-coming female rapper who gained notoriety for calling out Kanye West, contributing her own hard-hitting lyrics.

As for the Rube Goldberg idea, "we thought about having a bunch of different metaphors around gun violence, of a way we could show those in a cycle," said McCann Creative Nick Larson.

"There's something innately stupid about a Rube Golberg [machine] that fits with the stupidity of the predictability of all this," says Ben Smith, director at Mill+ and creative director at the Mill, who directed the film. "But we also wanted to bring humanity into the idea, so the idea was to show the reaction to the horror, with the idea being that people might feel something, relate to it and go out and vote."

While the video is jarring to see once, watching it three times in a row powerfully reinforces the hopelessness. According to Levy, "That idea came from [McCann Worldgroup Global Creative Chairman] Rob Reilly. "We showed him an earlier cut, and he suggested we loop the video several times." The changing elements then help to make each cycle stand out individually.

During the shoot of the film itself, that "vicious cycle" made itself clear—in the real world. "The day we were actually filming was the day of the shooting in Jacksonville," says Creative Andre DeCastro. In response, he added the incident to the memorial wall scene of the film.

"I remember once we placed that sign in the scene, some of the prop crew were confused," says Levy. "Not everyone had their phones on, and they hadn't gotten that news update."

 

Credits

Date
Oct 12, 2018
Agency:
McCann NY
Client:
March for Our Lives
Production Company:
Mill+
Visual Effects:
The Mill
Creative:
Andre DeCastro
Creative:
Nick Larson
Producer:
Gaby Levy
Chief Creative Officer:
Sean Bryan
Chief Creative Officer:
Tom Murphy
Creative Advisor:
Joyce King Thomas
Chief Production Officer:
Nathy Aviram
Global Creative Chairman:
Rob Reilly
Executive Creative Director:
Susan Young
Executive Creative Director:
Daniela Vojta
President, McCann NY:
Devika Bulchandani
Chief Communications Officer:
Jeremy Miller
Director:
Ben Smith
Executive Producer:
Ian Bearce
Executive Producer:
Christina Thompson
Producer:
Tia Perkins
Production Coordinator:
Andrew Hollingsworth
Production Coordinator:
Danika Casas
Shoot Supervisor:
Kyle Cody
Editor:
Ryan McKenna
Edit Assist:
Matthew Campbell
Executive Producer:
Christina Thompson
Producer:
Grace Tober
Line Producer:
Roshni Kakas
Production Coordinator:
Umesh Chand
Chief Creative Officer:
Angus Kneale
Creative Director:
Ben Smith
Shoot Supervisor:
Kyle Cody
2D Lead Artist:
Kyle Cody
2D Lead Artist:
Venuprasath D
3D Lead Artist:
Christian Nielsen
2D Artist:
Molly Intersimone
2D Artist:
Badarinath Chinimilli
2D Artist:
Prasanna Bhatt
2D Artist:
Rajeshkumar K
3D Artist:
Tim Kim
3D Artist:
Ryan Federman
3D Artist:
Todd Akita
3D Artist:
Tighe Rzankowski
3D Artist:
Dave Barosin
3D Artist:
Weicheih Yu
3D Artist:
Sudakshina Sridharan
3D Artist:
Vittal Kuntla
3D Artist:
Fazal Khan
3D Artist:
Giri Prasath S
3D Artist:
Raj Kumar M
3D Artist:
Sunil MM
3D Artist:
Sendil Kumar J
Animation:
Scott McGinley
Animation:
Alex Allain
Animation:
John Wilson
Design:
Clemens den Exter
Motion Graphics:
Laura Nash
Motion Graphics:
Wendy Eduarte
Asset Supervisor:
Anish Mohan
Tracking Supervisor:
Senthil Murugan Balasundaram
Colorist:
Mikey Rossiter
Audio Post Production:
Sound Lounge
Sound Designer:
Marshall Grupp
Foley:
Alchemy Post Sound
Audio Mixer:
Tom Jucarone
Senior Producer, Audio:
Becca Falborn
Music Supervised By:
Rob Kaplan
Music Supervised By:
Aaron Mercer
Music:
Wool & Tusk
Produced and Engineered :
Drew Pearson
Mixed by :
Jon Castelli
Engineer for Mix:
Ingmar Carlson
Mastered by:
Emily Lazar
Assisted By:
Chris Allgood
Written by:
Kesha
Written by:
Sage
Written by:
Chika
Written by:
Pebe Sebert
Written by:
Drew Pearson
Chika Vocals Recorded by :
Mitch Davis
Executive Produced by :
Lagan Sebert
Executive Produced by :
Hampton Howerton
Project Strategist and Coordinator :
Sarah Chadwick
Project Strategist and Coordinator :
Sofie Whitney
Content Creator:
Ryan Deitsch
National Outreach Director:
Jackie Corin
Chief Strategist:
Matt Deitsch

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