another spot released by Evolve, this would make a great
Saturday Night Live skit. But despite breathy claims across the
web, as an ad it is not epic. It is not amazing.
In fact, what it is, is pointless.
Who, exactly, is this ad meant to target?
I find it highly unlikely that there's Venn diagram somewhere
showing a huge group at the intersection of "owns a gun" and "is
likely to respond to an online ad featuring a dildo joke." And I'd
bet that those who do fall into that little tiny group are
probably among the safest gun owners on the planet.
The thing is, I want to support Evolve, which portrays itself as
a third voice in the American gun debate, somewhere between the
sort of gung-ho gun nuts who bring their rifles into Target to make
a point and those who say "gun control" but really mean "make all
Evolve's mission is gun safety. That and "debate." "Evolve will
make safety and saving lives aspirational, through mass media
campaigns that ignite conversations," says the website. Ah, yes,
the old "ignite conversations" play. It's like "raising awareness"
and "sparking debate" and "staging a social-media protest" (and
Is someone out there having a conversation along the lines of "I
can keep my gun under my baby's pillow if I want to" or "I think
it's perfectly fine to hide my gun in a book bag in Little Jimmy's
The thing is, the majority of gun owners in the U.S. are a
fairly responsible lot.
But, yes, let's concede that there is a substantial group of
irresponsible gun owners out there in the world. Maybe they're
burnt-out drug users. Maybe they're criminals. Maybe they're just
criminally stupid or forgetful. And when you're any of these things
with something as deadly as a gun, horrible things can happen.
Are those people going to see this ad? I can't imagine
it getting much play in the crack house or meth lab or gang hangout
or separatist militia compound or wherever it is you imagine bad
guys with guns dwell.
Even if one of these people did, for whatever reason, see this
spot, would it change his mind? "Why, those two little sports
playing with sex toys make a very good point about gun safety. I
will keep my gun under lock and key from now own. Perhaps
in a safe under that table with all the Bunsen burners on it. Or
behind the case of cough syrup."
Of course, there probably are more than a few slightly daft gun
owners who keep guns in ridiculous places or do stupid things with
them, but getting through to those sorts of people usually requires
something dramatic -- like those anti-smoking ads featuring dying
cancer victims or those anti-texting ads featuring death and
Sometimes we tend to forget this, but there is a point to
advertising. "Creating a conversation" among parties completely
irrelevant to the pitch -- you know, like non-gun-owning media folk
who love a good dildo joke -- isn't it. The point of advertising is
to reach a target and change a mind or make a sale.
This ad, funny as it is, succeeds at neither.