It’s no secret that the National Rifle Association has a cozy relationship with many members of Congress, which many contend acts as a roadblock to meaningful gun reform legislation. And such relationships have received particular attention in recent months, following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and subsequent student activism from survivors.
Two creatives decided to try reaching out to the 10 politicians who have received the most funding from the NRA during their careers—who happen to all be Republican senators—with a sarcastic yet clear message in the form of a “Blood on your hands” soap gift package. (With the recent death of John McCain, David Perdue moved into the number 10 spot.)
Freelance copywriter/associate creative director Jeff Marois and freelance art director/designer Ryan Raulie have been working on the project on nights and weekends for around a year. They were inspired by the activism of Marjory Stoneman Douglas students, which Marois said “lit a fire under [them]” to “put our full effort into this” and speed up the process.
“It’s inspiring to see those kids take over that whole moment and push the envelope a little bit,” Marois told Adweek. “We went from there.”
The soap gift boxes feature five specialty soaps, each themed around a different gun control issue such as a Bump Bar, which addresses bump stocks. In addition to physical gift boxes, they also targeted the politicians on social media with a sarcastic message about a “job well done” and a link to their website. The website includes details about each of the soaps and a solution to the issue necessitating the soap in the first place.
“The idea is to put pressure on these politicians,” Marois said. “We want other people to understand that this is happening. When you see the numbers … a lot of these senators stay in office for a very long time. … There’s millions of dollars they’re accepting from the NRA. It’s kind of mind-blowing to see it on paper.”
Marois explained the duo “honed in early on” a desire to target NRA lobbying, adding that the “sharper tone” in his copywriting and Raulie’s design sense led to a juxtaposition that fit the project.
“It was kind of this goofy idea,” Raulie said, which began with Marois writing names and descriptions for the soaps. “I was inspired to create something that felt almost calming and beautiful but upon closer inspection is not as beautiful as it seems, which is also how we see the NRA’s funding. It’s this nice, tempting thing to these politicians, but if you take a closer look at it, it’s fucked up.”
“For me, the hardest part was actually wrapping my head around producing these things in real life,” he explained, which included such production aspects as sourcing soap and boxes “and making it look nice.”
The production challenges led to a desire to “work scrappier” in the future, he added. “It made me realize how much we can do ourselves without relying on other people. I’m inspired by that.”
Unsurprisingly, the only replies they’ve received from senators are the typical form letters. The campaign continues through its social media component, however, which hopes to enlist its audiences in calling out the politicians in question via Twitter.
“We made it so people can engage and tweet at them [with] a virtual bot. They should be getting these all the time, in our opinion.”
Raulie said he hopes the approach’s novelty helps it stand out and engage more people in conversations around gun control and the NRA’s role in funding politicians.
So far the response has been positive, Marois said, and to his surprise, people have asked to buy the boxes, something he said he had “never considered.” They will not, however, be selling the boxes despite interest because the gift boxes are too time intensive.