WASHINGTON — The CEO of Zombie Industries says it's a total coincidence that advertising for its "Gun Control Lobbyist" target — which oozes "blood" when shot — featured an actual gun control lobbyist who looks eerily similar to the target.
"I went in and asked [the designer of the ads] and he said, 'I just googled and pulled down a picture and put it up and that was the end of it," Roger Davis told BuzzFeed in a phone interview. He called the photo of Brady Campaign President Daniel Gross surrounded by gun violence victims "inappropriate" and said the ads featuring Gross as well as Virginia Tech shooting victim Colin Goddard have been removed from Zombie Industries' website and Facebook page.
Davis insisted it was completely random that the picture was placed on the ad.
"Completely unintentional, the graphic designer had just grabbed a picture off the internet and evidently didn't look at who is in the picture," Davis said, "so I think he was just trying to find a group of people who were speaking on a podium. It definitely wasn't intended to have a victim or a victim's family member on there."
Goddard criticized Zombie Industries for the advertisement Tuesday, and told BuzzFeed the "bleeding" dummy looked a lot like Gross. The dummy has a similar haircut to Gross' and is wearing a suit and tie of the same color as the one Gross is wearing in the picture originally used in the ad.
Davis said the dummy wasn't meant to represent Gross or anyone else.
"You could see whatever you want to see, and if you put the guy next to a picture of Bloomberg, he looks like Bloomberg. Put a picture of Rick Perry beside him, who's clearly not an anti-gun lobbyist, it's going to look like Rick Perry. You put it next to Reagan, it's going to look like Reagan," Davis said. "You put it next to any white male that's going to wear a suit and have the combover haircut it's going to look like all of them, you know? It's clearly not intend to reflect any person, the same as every other zombie that we do. They're not actual people."
But Davis suggested that if the owner wants the target to represent an actual person, that's fine with him.
"Maybe some people want to shoot a terrorist zombie. Maybe others want to shoot a Nazi zombie," he said, referring to other products sold by the company.
"Maybe others want to think it's a gun control lobbyist, or maybe their ex-wife's divorce attorney, or whatever person in a suit they want to paint, that's what it is."
Zombie Industries' "bleeding" targets have been highly controversial on both sides of the gun debate. The National Rifle Association banned the Zombie targets called "The Ex," a woman in underwear, and "Rocky," which looks a lot like President Obama, from the group's national convention in May. Davis said he was "unaware" of any criticism of his targets from inside the NRA, and defended his targets, which "bleed" when shot.
"Our target is designed to have a good time, to have a fun target that you can shoot, and you can spend time outside with your family," he said. "It's a great way to engage the youth market and teach them safe, responsible, gun use and be able to do that outside with something that they can relate to."
Davis said the recently-introduced "Gun Control Lobbyist" target has been selling well, and said he's gotten used to the controversy surrounding his products.
"What's called the 'Caucasian Male', that's our top seller. So I guess if there's a group of white, Caucasian males, maybe they might be upset at us for selling a Caucasian male target, I don't know," he said. "The clown is a big seller and I'm expecting a phone call from the coalition of clowns any day now to ask us to stop making clowns. But, you know, what can you do?"
In the end, Davis said, he's giving people the opportunity to live out a fantasy.
"It's something you don't have to feel bad about killing," he said of his targets. "If the zombie apocalypse happens tomorrow, you're going to want to kill every zombie that comes near you."
Evan McMorris-Santoro is the White House correspondent for BuzzFeed News.
Contact Evan McMorris-Santoro at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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