Lost Class | Change the Ref

Creating a viral moment to advance gun control policy

The Lost Class is an initiative of Change the Ref, a nonprofit organization started by the parents of Joaquin "Guac" Oliver, one of the 17 students killed by a gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Change the Ref was created to empower our future leaders by providing the tools needed to make changes through education, conversation and activism.

Press Hits

Gun safety advocates take the initiative on steering discussion about guns in the U.S.

Gun safety advocates take the initiative on steering discussion about guns in the U.S.

Manuel Oliver, co-founder of Change the Ref and father of Juaquin Oliver, who was killed in a mass shooting at his school in Parkland, Florida, talks with Rachel Maddow about how gun safety advocates are taking control of the issue of gun safety outside of the constant cycle of news of mass shootings and gun violence.

The Stakes

In service of Change the Ref’s goals, we worked with production company Hungry Man Production, director Bryan Buckley and ad agency Leo Burnett to develop and build awareness for the Lost Class – the 3,044 members of the high school class of 2021 who were killed by guns.


The Process

Tusk managed the PR efforts surrounding an elaborate stunt wherein David Keene, a former NRA president and current board member of the gun rights group, was tricked into giving a graduation speech to a field of empty chairs representing the 3,044 members of the class of 2021 who would not be graduating because they were killed by guns. The speech was filmed and cut into a dramatic video which was used to gain awareness of the issue and drive nearly 42,000 signatures to a petition advocating for Congress to pass universal background checks.


The Conclusion

Through Tusk’s media relations strategy and outreach the campaign gained over 250M social impressions,  hundreds of articles, a full segment on The Rachel Maddow Show, and 41,000 signatures in support of a petition on Change.org. The project was nominated for an Emmy and awarded a Black Pencil, 4 Gold Lions at Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, and numerous other awards.