My culture: Rob Reilly on the horror of school shootings

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Like many Americans, I wake up every day and turn on CNN with the hope that the first story I see is not another tragic school shooting. And yet twice in the last week, like almost every other week, that’s what I saw. But my morning is nothing compared with what the children of this country have to endure. Instead of learning about science and history, they spend their morning practising what to do if an armed sociopath enters their building. Just the other day on CNN, a 12-year-old boy said he grabbed a baseball bat and waited for the shooter because: "I was going to go down fighting."

What the fuck?

This is our reality, brought to us daily through CNN. And, yes, it influences me every day. Because I want to know what more can I do to solve this issue of gun violence. What can agencies do? What can brands and their agencies do, in general, to make the world a better, fairer and safer place?

Governments are just not getting it done. Whether it is the lack of money or a lack of will, governments are falling short in delivering on the basic premise of what they should be doing – helping people live better lives every day. That is the opportunity for all of us on the agency side and for our client partners – to help brands play a meaningful role in people’s lives. And it doesn’t mean you can’t make money. It is quite the opposite. People, young people especially, are fine with brands making money. They just want you to also do the right thing.

I wish I was talking about a musician or a film and not the culture of a 24-hour news cycle. But this is how desperate we are over here. Ironically, as I sit here writing this article, CNN just released a stat online – since 2009, the US has had 57 times as many school shootings as the other major industrialised nations combined. That is 288 in the US versus a total of five in Germany, France, Japan, Italy, Canada and the UK.

Please do whatever you can to help, no matter what country you live in. Use your creative powers to come up with a solution for us. We clearly do not have one.


Rob Reilly is global creative chairman at McCann Worldgroup, New York

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