Leo Burnett stages graduation for “The Lost Class”

The latest campaign for Change The Ref sets out to confront gun lobbyists and honor the memory of 3,044 victims of school shootings who should’ve graduated high school this year.

Change The Ref approached Leo Burnett with a stark request: How do we force pro-gun advocates to reckon with the consequences of their punditry? And how can we honor the memories of the thousands of students who have lost their lives to gun violence?

On June 4th, 2021, Change The Ref and Leo Burnett invited former NRA president, David Keene, and prominent economist and gun advocate, John Lott, to speak at the graduation of James Madison Academy in Las Vegas, NV. Ironically, if these men who dedicated their lives to opposing background checks had conducted one in this case, they would have learned that JMA was a fictional institution created by the team at Leo Burnett.

Instead, Keene and Lott walked on the stage to face 3,044 empty chairs, each representing a would-be graduate of the class of 2021 who lost their life to gun violence. While Keene and Lott delivered their speeches preaching the virtue of gun access, they were forced to face the consequences head-on.

“Graduation day is meant to symbolize potential and achievement. But for this group of students, it’s become a day to wonder what the rest of their lives would have looked like,” said Manuel Oliver, whose son Joaquin was one of the 17 victims in the Parkland massacre.

Manuel co-founded Change The Ref with his wife Patricia in Joaquin’s memory. “Let’s not lose another class of students to the gun violence epidemic. Let’s demand that we make graduating America’s children more important than gaining uninhibited access to guns.”

Gun violence is the leading cause of death among middle and high school students. John Lott finished his speech by promising a bright future ahead to the 3,000 students robbed of theirs.

The Lost Class’ graduation gift, a petition to demand that lawmakers take action in requiring universal background checks, is available at ChangeTheRef.org.

Visit TheLostClass.com to learn more.

Leo Burnett Chicago – Agency

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