By Stephen L. Sanetti
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence has teamed up with the Ad Council to launch “End Family Fire,” a new national multi-platform campaign they say is designed to promote safe storage of firearms in the home.
Also supported by the Gun Safety Alliance, described by Ad Age as “the group of marketers who have come together to address gun safety issues in the States, with the help of the advertising community,” the campaign introduces the phrase “family fire” they hope will catch on as a play on the “friendly fire” term usually used to describe military losses incurred on one’s own side due to mistargeting.
We think the campaign approach is a misfire.
Contrived and Off-Putting
Let’s start with the portrayal of the contrived exchange between the father and the son in the launch video. Maybe that dialog would feel real to advertising people who have no real personal connection to gun ownership, but we’re certain it will be seen by gun owners completely off-putting. And yet it’s gun owners that this marketing/advertising team say they want to reach.
And the messaging is mistargeted.
For, try as they might, the advertising firm behind this campaign does not understand gun owners and, as a result, focus group testing or not, they end up with scripting that speaks to their own sensibilities and to that shared by Brady campaign supporters. They may not think they do so, but the effect is to belittle genuine concerns for protecting one’s family.
A National Safety Council report showed the number of unintentional firearms deaths is at historic low levels with firearms being involved in less than 1 percent of all fatal accidents from all causes. There is no question that each death is a genuine tragedy and every injury is truly sad for all involved. In the end, however, where the End Family Fire campaign falls short is the opening graphics sequence on its homepage graphic prescribing an “inaccessible location” as a starting point for safe storage. You must click through to get to the details.
Project ChildSafe® is Making A Difference
Project ChildSafe – Own it? Respect it. Secure it.In contrast, Project ChildSafe® and the Own It. Respect It. Secure it.® campaign provide education, practical advice on how to speak with children about guns in the home and real solutions that start with a safety kit that includes a free cable-style lock. We’ve distributed over 37 million to date.
Project ChildSafe’s impact is resulting in a real, measurable difference in communities nationwide, evidenced by a U.S. Government Accountability Office report, which concluded that providing free locking devices positively influenced behavior to store firearms more safely. The U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) recognized that reality with a $2.4 million grant.
Ask yourself, what approach do you really think works best to continue to reduce tragedies and increase safety in homes with both children and handguns? We’re confident of our answer. Unless you work on Madison Avenue or in the office of a gun control organization like the Brady campaign, we think you will agree.
Stephen L. Sanetti is president and CEO of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.