“Both sides” has become a loaded phrase, after Donald Trump used it to avoid criticizing white supremacists. In an age of false equivalencies, it’s become harder to see nuance in policy positions or to find common ground with people on the other side of an issue. Now a new series of spots by VaynerMedia for Sandy Hook Promise, the organization formed after the elementary school shooting in 2012, lets viewers hear both sides on the gun control issue--or just one side at a time.
Two audio tracks, one for the left ear and one for the right, play simultaneously in videos pitting two spokespeople against each other. On the left, one voice explains why guns need to be better regulated. On the right, the other lays out reasons why they own guns. But at the end, the two voices express similar sentiments: “I just want my children to be safe.”
Though the messages clash at first, the audio blends together like two instruments, and it’s relatively easy to pick out one track to follow, even in an environment that doesn’t lend itself to filtering, like the radio. But listen with headphones and simple to remove one and hear only one of the tracks.
At the end of each spot, a voiceover encourages listeners to learn the signs of gun violence, a non-partisan message the organization has been pushing for years, as it did in the award-winning spot “Evan,” which hid the signs of a would-be shooter in a more typical high school story.
VaynerProductions used 3D audio tech in its studio in Long Island City to mix the tracks. The news ads will begin running on Friday through the midterm elections. Spotify and Pandora have donated media space, and the video versions will run on social media.