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Of Guns and Advertising
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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If society thinks that an issue is important, advertising is going to know about it. That is one of the many great things about being in advertising; one can feel the pulse of our social fabric, and get a sense about what is going on in the moment.

And now, guns are the hot issue.

We are all aware of the tragic events that have happened around the nation. Now people and organizations who are for gun control are taking to advertising to spread the message of what steps need to be taken.

What is the first thing to do when trying to change a person's mind? You remove the stimulus. Comcast recently announced that it will no longer show commercials that advertise firearms and ammunitions. Comcast is the nation's largest cable TV company, so this announcement carries some weight. The other cable companies, Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications, also have restricted the types of guns and ammunitions that can be advertised on their networks. This commercial ban is not unlike the advertising ban on cigarettes, save the self-imposed restrictions.

Gun store owners in the article asked why networks are "attacking" the gun industry and not the alcohol industry, since alcohol is linked to drunk driver deaths and accidents.

Here's the reason: people aren't talking about alcohol.

Next, people who are strong proponents for gun control are hitting the airwaves. Look no further than New York City billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg. Mayor Bloomberg co-founded the Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and has started a $12 million dollar advertising campaign that will run in nearly a dozen states and has a goal to target 15 senators (five democrats, 10 republicans). The ads focus on how comprehensive background checks not only prevent the dangerous from getting guns, but also protect those who get guns and keep them legally.

Below is a spot.




Finally, we'll take you to the land of Wyoming, where the gun ownership rate is one of the highest in the country. Wyoming is falling on some difficult times, for it also has one of the highest suicide rates in the nation, with nearly 75% of suicides involving a gun. NPR highlighted the founder of Grace for 2 Brothers, B.J. Ayers, and spoke with her about her organization and its goal to prevent suicide and shine light on the access of guns to those that may be contemplating suicide. Ayers is releasing PSAs and short web videos that talk about the need for Wyoming teens and men to know that it is okay to reach out for help, and the need for Wyoming to examine the gun ownership in the state.

Advertising cannot solve America's gun question. Advertising is meant to show the American public what options and answers are out there, and where they can get more information to develop an answer for themselves. Anti-advertising can provide a strong message as well, as seen from the stance Comcast, TWC, and Cox are taking. Yes, closing the gateway to information is just as powerful of a method as the message.

This is not over. We will be interested to see what other perspectives advertising will show the public, and how the public will respond.


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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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