Tragically, the youngsters in this yearbook will never graduate from high school. In fact, they’ll never grow up at all to reach their potential, or experience the fullness of life. And that’s because each one was a victim of gun violence.
Now they’re the focus of “Sign Their Yearbook,” a sad, sobering initiative by Stockholm, Sweden, agency Volt on behalf of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence:
“As an American citizen—I was born in Sweden but have dual citizenship—this is an issue that I feel strongly about,” agency creative director Daniel Vaccino tells AdFreak. “The gun culture in the U.S. is obviously a complex issue, but we wanted to take a stand for what we believe needs to be done.”
The online “yearbook,” which went live on Wednesday, also serves as a petition; those signing signal their support for universal criminal background checks for people attempting to purchase firearms. (In 38 states, it is legal to buy guns without submitting to such scrutiny.) After 30 days, the petition—in the form of a handsomely printed physical yearbook—will be submitted to the U.S. Senate, where measures to tighten gun laws have previously failed.
“In essence, it’s a traditional petition, packaged with a personal and emotional twist,” Vaccine says. “We believe that the contextual relevance of using a yearbook strikes a personal note that might open people’s minds and hearts.”
Collecting the pictures and stories of kids killed by guns at Sandy Hook and elsewhere proved “a heartbreaking process in itself,” says Vaccino, all the more so because, for each child shown, the team developed the content in collaboration with the victims’ families and relatives.
Eschewing the brutal, bloody imagery that often drives gun-control campaigns, “Sign Their Yearbook” makes its point with great effect by putting a familiar rite of passage in an unexpected context. While not as transcendent as, say, Grey’s award-winning “Gun Store,” it’s hugely relatable and benefits from a simple and clear call to action.