The Hippest, Coolest Gun Control Ads Of The Last 15 Years

The industry loves to make them; their impact isn’t clear.

An AK-47 made from the bones of my enemies.
German Ad from 2010 for Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker (Society for Threatened People) looking to get folks to sign their petition and donate money. Won many awards.

It’s a perfect match.

Nonprofit gun control organizations want to make a big splash via advertising, but don’t have ad budgets.

Ad agencies want to put something in their portfolios other than boring bank ads, over-produced car commercials, and fast food photography.

The result: agencies fall over themselves to do edgy pro bono PSA work to help polish their images. This is not an exaggeration, this is the process.

And now, with the Obama administration committed to passing gun control measures, I expect to see some big name ad creatives producing some memorable/shocking/explosive advertising in the coming months. It’s often memorable; it may well also be pointless.

That’s because unfortunately, this is an issue where advertising is almost irrelevant — whether it be pro- or anti-gun ads — because most Americans are already 100% sold, one way or the other. You’re not trying to convince them to try a new toothpaste.

It’s not just guns. This is a problem with a lot of public service advertising. Unless it’s addressing a very specific issue or a specific time-sensitive law (like these Amendment One ads via North Carolina), it just doesn’t seem to work.

For instance, despite spending a few billion dollars on anti-drug ads in the last three decades, the U.S. government has done little to curb teenage drug use.

Which brings us to these slick gun control ads of the past that, probably, did little more than win the ad agencies lots of awards.

“CONSIDER BOTH SIDES OF THE STORY”
Two-sided ad from 1999 via Australia’s Coalition for Gun Control.
Shown is an actual entrance and exit wound from an automatic handgun (sorry, highest resolution image I could find).
Via karenhurley.tumblr.com

From 2001, American ads for the National Coalition For Gun Control.
I was in college in the New York area when Lennon was killed, and it was truly stunning news. The approach here is creative, but the flip headlines set the wrong tone, I think.
Imaginary Chicago paper with New York Times look and fonts.

2007 commercial, tagged “Stop The Bullets. Kill The Gun,” was part of London hip hop station Choice FM’s “Peace On The Streets” campaign.
London ad agency AMV BBDO got a former Navy SEAL to shoot the objects at 10,000 frames per second. The water bottle shot is especially cool.

This is the best anti-gun PSA I’ve ever seen.

New York just passed the nation’s toughest gun control law.
These 2007 ads were for the Citizens Crime Commission Of New York City. While the art direction is nifty, the ads, for me, almost fetishize guns. Second ad from the campaign below.
Ad agency: DraftFCB NYC.

Kenneth Cole has often combined hot button issues and fashion advertising over the last decade, garnering his business lots of press. But his puns (he writes most of the ads himself) sometimes thud badly. These billboards are from 2008.

From MTV’s 2001 Rock The Vote campaign.

Earlier this month, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence released this anti-gun ad featuring Congressman John Barrow (D-GA). The Coalition chopped up Barrow’s own ad from last fall to turn his words against him, post-Sandy Hook massacre.

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