Agencies have taken many approaches to creating memorable gun-control ads. Grey Toronto's latest work for Moms Demand Action, opposing an open-carry gun policy in Kroger supermarkets, is thought-provoking—and notably restrained by category standards.
A pair of minute-long radio spots use actual recorded phone calls in which Kroger employees try to explain why people can openly carry firearms in the store, but pets and kids' scooters are banned. This approach could easily have veered into mean-spiritedness, but the conversations never make the employees sound foolish. These folks are, after all, not the policy makers.
Print ads effectively illustrate the same theme. They use the headline, "One of them isn't welcome at Kroger. Guess which one." A schoolgirl with an ice-cream cone, a teen carrying a skateboard and a big shirtless dude are shown beside men and women toting scary-looking firearms. (The print ads are variations on earlier Moms Demand Action efforts.)
"We wanted to pick a campaign that would give us the opportunity, frankly, to do more brand damage by running ads," says Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. "They may at first sit back and allow the brand damage to occur, and then realize, 'Oh, wait, we're alienating most of our customer base, which is women and mothers.' "
A spokesman for the chain, which operates more than 2,400 stores in 31 states, told the Huffington Post: "Kroger's policy has been and continues to be to follow state and local laws and to ask customers to be respectful of others while shopping in our stores." Kroger has also blasted the Michael Bloomberg-backed Everytown for Gun Safety, which is funding the campaign, as "a national political organization that is attempting to use retailers to further their agenda."
The ads were timed to coincide with Kroger's investors meeting last week in Cincinnati. (Moms Demand Action claims Kroger pressured local radio stations to pull the spots. Neither Kroger nor iHeartCommunications, formerly Clear Channel, immediately responded to AdFreak's requests for comment.) The radio spots continue to run in other markets through November.
For me, this campaign strikes the perfect tone, chastising Kroger without going over the top or employing gory scare tactics. The work is designed to make the audience think, to question the status quo—and I believe it succeeds. Even the employee in the "Scooter" radio spot sounds thoughtful in the end. As she struggles for words, you can almost hear her mind working, perhaps mulling the irony—some would say absurdity—of the store's position.
CREDITS (radio and print)
Campaign Title: "Choose One"
Agency: Grey Toronto
Chief Creative Officer: Patrick Scissons
Writers: Patrick Scissons, Graeme Campbell
Art Director: Logan Gabel
Agency Producers: Vikki Kuzmich (print), Erica Metcalfe (radio)
Account Team: Laura Rovinescu, Darlene Remlinger
Production Companies: The Field (print), The Eggplant (radio)
Producers: Cherie Sinclair (print), Adam Damelin, Roc Gagliese (radio)
Photography: Eden Robbins, Hardave Grewal (retoucher)
Sound Engineer: Nathan Handy