WT Rubber Bullets Number Three

Wunderman Thompson PSA Uses Watermelon, Wine Glass to Show Devastating Effects of Rubber Bullets

Dec 18, 2020

A rubber bullet sounds oddly fun and friendly. It is anything but.


  • Austin

“A non-lethal bullet may not kill you. But you might just wish it had.”

Wunderman Thompson Austin, a WPP agency, announced today the launch of its PSA created with the goal of banning rubber bullets in the U.S., hoping to educate people on the life-altering injuries that “non-lethal” rubber bullets can cause. The agency has also built the website FreeStreetsNow.com, where people can learn more about the damages caused by so called “non-lethal” ammunition and sign a petition to ban rubber bullets.

Inspired by horrific injuries including a permanently brain-damaged college student incurred by protestors in Austin, Texas, the 30-second spot opens as a barrel of a gun fires a rubber bullet in super slow-motion. The soundtrack is of people scrambling when a protest is being disrupted by police. A woman appears to scream and then cry out, “I’m shot!”

The devastating impact of the rubber bullet shots—which are well lit and filmed against a black background—are shown in incredible detail as they annihilate a mango, a wine glass, a water balloon, a cauliflower, and a watermelon to replicate the type of damage they can do to human bodies. A 60-second version shows additional artful-yet-catastrophic explosions.

This work was done pro-bono by people in the Austin Film and Production community because they were shocked and sickened by recently seeing Austin Police use “non-lethal” ammunition on peaceful protesters.

Local Austin director Dan Brown and his team at Royale Film Company were integral Wunderman Thompson partners in the project. “Dan picked up the phone and the next thing we knew, Austin’s best and brightest were asking “When do we shoot?” said Wunderman Thompson Creative Director Gene Blakeney. “Dan hooked us up with the amazing Karen Jacobs and her scary talented people at TBD Post, the pros at ATX grip, found our location and then pulled the ultimate rabbit out of the hat securing not only a camera operator but a Phantom camera itself, the legendary super high-speed camera that can shoot over 10,000 frames per second,” continued Blakeney.

“People hear ‘Non-Lethal’ or ‘Rubber Bullet’ and immediately assume that such munitions are benign,” Wunderman Thompson Creative Director Tom Miller explained. “But as we have seen lately, these projectiles can cause ghastly, life-altering injuries. In fact, 1 out of 5 incidents ends in death or permanent injury. Our PSA combines real-life footage with breathtaking cinematography to demonstrate that message in a non-exploitative way and to deliver it to a wider audience,” continued Miller.

Click here to view the spot.

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