More than 90 people die and hundreds more are injured by gun violence every day. Hadiya Pendleton became one of those people when she was shot and killed on January 21, 2013. To honor Hadiya's life, #WearOrange was created by her childhood friends and launched on her 18th birthday - June 2, 2015.
#WearOrange quickly spread, gaining the attention of hundreds of communities throughout the United States and notables such as Julianne Moore, Steph Curry and President Obama. Our third year needed to continue to increase reach and participation both online and offline. The challenge: No one needed to be told gun violence in America was a terrible problem. It is so ubiquitous that people are growing numb to it. So for 2017, we needed to tell a broader story that allowed people to put themselves into the shoes of the far too many people affected by gun violence daily.
Through a simple message, "Can You See Me Now," we married the idea of wearing orange (which is the color hunters wear in the woods to protect themselves and others) with simple personal attributes that we printed across t-shirts to represent victims and survivors alike. As such, we were able to tell a more personal story and saw great success against our goals with nearly 1.4M views of the video, more than 215,000 #WearOrange social posts (trending nationally on Twitter all day), and more than 200 community events nationwide.
Gun violence in America is so ubiquitous that all too often, the lives of the victims and survivors get forgotten entirely—or lost in the churn of the daily news. So, for the Third National Gun Violence Awareness Day on June 2, 2017, Huge and GoodFight Media partnered with Everytown for Gun Safety to challenge the deep negativity that surrounds most gun safety activism. To do that, we chose to emphasize latent potential by shining a light on what we can each achieve in a safer world, by putting faces to the "statistics" of those affected by gun violence daily.
The anchor to the campaign was a video, "Can You See Me Now." The video features real people affected personally by gun violenc, and used absolutely no actors. We learn about Hadiya through her parents' own words—pulled from a series of intimate interviews—while watching fellow activists and survivors of gun violence prepare to rally for the cause. Each person depicted has their fierce determination and statements of purpose proudly written on the shirts they wear. Allowing the viewer to connect to them on a more personal note and understand that each victim, young or old, had/has a purpose in life—a reason for being—and a reason for rallying. At the end of the video, the Pendletons can be heard asking "Can you see me now?" as other survivors of gun violence and supporters of gun safety tell their stories through Wear Orange shirts and join Hadiya's parents in this movement.
The video was utilized across multiple on and offline mediums. Short clips of the individual victims in the video explaining why they #WearOrange were posted on Instagram to further connect our online community with the personal stories behind those affected. And silent clips from the video participants in their statement t-shirts were used to create a poignant digital billboard in Times Square that ended with a simple statement: "Orange demands to be seen. We demand to see change."
To further extend the concept and increase participation, we deployed an innovative twist, one befitting of a campaign with deep DIY roots and invited people on social to submit their own statements of why they Wear Orange. Thousands of submissions were received in just two weeks, and the most popular was commemorated in its own shirt for sale on the site. More than 1M viewers of the video also had the opportunity to buy several other statement shirts as seen in the video—"I am a mom" and "I am determined" were among the best sellers.
In addition to our owned channels, we engaged with hundreds of brands and social influencers to generate buzz and activate people to participate in one of over 200 events across the nation. More than 500 brands (Teen Vogue, Zac Posen), influencers (Amy Schumer, Keegan Michael-Key), elected officials (President Obama, Nancy Pelosi), landmarks (TD Garden, Helmsley Building, Tennessee State Capitol) and organizations (Planned Parenthood, National PTA).
More than 200 cities held events attracting an upwards of 10,000 supporters who vowed to do more to end gun violence. This powerful reach and visibility of this campaign means hundreds of thousands of additional people take action on the issue of gun violence prevention and elevate it in the minds (and news feeds) of everyone they know as well. Over 215,000 people participated in Wear Orange on June 2, 2017, exceeding 2016 participation by 10%.