While large ad agencies these days shy away from working for gun manufacturers, it turns out that they have a little secret to boosting sales. Gun manufacturers obviously and openly pander to toxic masculinity, appealing to every lousy, dangerous trope out there, shamelessly amping up male insecurity and fostering the idea that one can be a manly man if you just get yourself unnecessarily armed to the teeth. And of course, women can be a womanly woman right alongside their manly men, guns for all!
To entice potential customers to purchase its high-powered assault rifle, Bushmaster, one of America’s largest gun manufacturers, uses the slogan “Justice for All.’’ Its print ads tell prospective buyers: “Consider your man card reissued.” Sig Sauer, another major gun manufacturer, advertises its MCX rifle in a dramatic video of a single shooter, calling the gun the “start of a new era.”
In the wake of the massacre at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida, many politicians are demanding stricter gun laws. But a lot less attention is focused on the marketing tactics of American gun manufacturers, who can — unlike cigarette and alcohol companies — legally and freely market their products with little to no regulation.
“If you look at the gun industry’s advertising today, it’s militarized,” says Josh Sugarmann, the founder and executive director of the Violence Policy Center, an American nonprofit organization that advocates for gun control. “It’s focused on two things: assault weapons and high-capacity semi-automatic pistols.”
I was a around for the major societal shift and restrictions on tobacco and alcohol advertising. Those were considered to be good and necessary restrictions, but once again, it seems guns are exempt.
Ever since the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, put assault weapons back in the spotlight, the amount of money spent on gun advertising has increased dramatically. From 2012 to 2013, the amount spent by five of the largest assault weapons manufacturers on advertising their own brands leapt more than 33 percent, according to Kantar Media data.
Remington’s ad spending nearly doubled, from $740,000 to more than $1.4 million in those years; Sig Sauer’s soared from just $30,000 to $230,000, according to Kantar.
Regardless of who’s writing the copy or executing the campaigns, these manufacturers are hardly reliant on ad strategy to drive sales; Smith & Wesson pulled in more than $551 million in revenue last year, thanks mostly to a dedicated, enthusiastic population of loyal gun buyers.
“If you focus on manufacturer advertising, you are missing the larger picture,” Terrence Witkowski, a professor at California State University, Long Beach, who has studied the visual language of gun culture. “American gun culture is a form of consumer culture where much influence flows from the grassroots, bottom up, not top down.”
The sad truth is tragedies like the ones in Orlando or Newtown are actually their own best advertising. While most gun manufacturers will never admit it, the demonization that is rained down on their products is good for business, as sales boom in the aftermath.
In 1993, reports that the weapon used in a mass shooting in San Francisco was a Tec-9 set off waves of people condemning the gun. To Intratec, the gun’s manufacturer, those howls of anger were music to its ears.
“I’m kind of flattered,” Mike Solo, Intratec’s marketing and sales director, told the New York Times. “It just has that advertising tingle to it. Hey, it’s talked about, it’s read about, the media write about it. That generates more sales for me. It might sound cold and cruel, but I’m sales oriented.”
“I’m sales oriented”. Yeah, who cares about all those dead people, there are sales to be made.
Via Raw Story.