Parkland victim Joaquin Oliver comes back to life in heartbreaking plea to voters | #schoolshooting

“Yo, It’s me—it’s Guac,” he says. “I’ve been gone for two years and nothing’s changed, bro. People are still getting killed by guns. Everyone knows it, but they don’t do anything. I’m tired of waiting for someone to fix it. The election in November is the first one I could have voted in, but I’ll never get to choose the kind of world I wanted to live in, so you’ve got to replace my vote. … Vote for politicians who care more about people’s lives than the gun lobby’s money. Vote for people not getting shot, bro. Vote for me, because I can’t. We’ve got to keep on fighting and we’ve got to end this.”

The spot directs viewers to, where they can register to “replace” the votes of gun violence victims.

According to McCann Health Executive Creative Director Tim Jones, making up for the lost votes of gun violence victims is the insight that inspired the idea.

“We were chatting about Parkland and the horrors that went on and we realized this year, 2020, would have been the first time that all the children who had lost their lives at Parkland would have been eligible to vote for their first presidential election, and they’re missing out on that opportunity,” he says. “That was really heavy, but the natural thing to happen from that was, how do we make their voices heard again, how do we ultimately replace those lost votes? Those are human beings who lost their lives to the very thing they could have impacted to change.”

From there, brainstorming led them to Joaquin. “We were trying to think of what would be the most impactful way to get people to replace these votes that the kids weren’t able to make,” says Group Creative Director/Copywriter Josh Grossberg. “And as we dug into it a little more, we kept hearing about Joaquin and how he was this guy who wanted to change the world, and was a powerful, uplifting figure among his peers. So we thought he should be the one telling people to vote.”

The team feared, however. the idea would be too painful for the Olivers. “If it was me, I’d be curled up in a ball unable to continue,” Grossberg says. “But Manuel and Patricia, you can see that they’re sad, but they made it really easy to do this and go further. They said, ‘Yes, let’s do it,’ which was not what we expected. They said, ‘Joaquin’s not really gone, he has this power that lives on,’ and that’s what we really wanted to capture.”

It turns out that this isn’t the first time Joaquin has stepped out to make a statement. Last month, Change the Ref, along with MullenLowe, debuted the “#CutOuttheBullshit” campaign, which placed cardboard fan cutouts of Joaquin at more than a dozen ballparks. The cutouts have been a way for sports watchers in the COVID era to make an “appearance” at games they can now only watch from screens. But this effort makes a poignant message about the games Joaquin will no longer be able to attend. 

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