A campaign that aims to end gun violence with your mind

The launch for Operation Prefrontal Cortex uses dramatic messaging to bring a meditation-based solution to Toronto.

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Toronto had a 51% increase in homicides in 2018, with over 18,000 reported assaults, making it the city’s most violent year on record. One of Toronto’s best-known creatives has launched a campaign to break the cycle.

Julien Christian Lutz is better known as Director X, a moniker under which he has created music videos for artists including Drake, One Direction, Usher and Jay-Z. In 2014, he was shot at his own New Year’s Eve party, and he spent his recovery considering what happened to him and what could be done to help end gun violence. He eventually settled on an approach based around love, not hate, which he illustrated in a recent TED Talk.

That was the inspiration for Operation Prefrontal Cortex, a non-profit that aims to combat gun violence in Toronto. While most organizations dealing with gun violence are advocating for legal and policy solutions, Operation Prefrontal Cortex is taking a different approach, aiming to reach those most affected by gun and mass violence with programs promoting mindfulness and meditation. Based on research suggesting meditation can actually change the areas of the brain associated with memory, sense of self and regulation of emotions, the non-profit hopes to reach into schools, corrections facilities and communities with programs that teach mindfulness, in the hope that it will prevent violence before it starts, ultimately breaking cycles of violence.

The Toronto office of Huge partnered with Lutz on the branding and launch campaign for Operation Prefrontal Cortex, called “Minds For Lives.” The organization’s website, social posts and digital ads are designed to be impactful, serving up dramatic statistics about violence in Toronto, while also relating them back to research about mindfulness and meditation and the idea that “your mind can save lives.” Every post draws a clear call to action to how mindfulness can help individuals and activists within communities (the target for the campaign) curb violence, while also driving to a GoFundMe page to help fund a pilot to bring the program to schools.

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Huge also worked with Operation Prefrontal Cortex from a strategic perspective, helping develop a range of social activities built around awareness, education, fund-raising and civic responsibility to help the organization put out the right messaging at key times in the months ahead to rally the most support for its mission.