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FIREARMS FRACAS: The First Amendment took on the Second Amendment during the 30-day period leading up to this month's column, making media coverage about gun-related marketing and advertising the top story of the month. The media couldn't get enough of stories about attempts to curtail the marketing of firearms in the wake of the Columbine High School tragedy.

In total, the SPINdex sample of influential media outlets devoted 414 stories to the topic of gun marketing generating a SPINdex of 3,975; that made it the biggest marketing story of the month by a margin of more than five to one.

The No. 2 story of the month, the marketing of the new "Star Wars: Episode 1-The Phantom Menace" had some gun- and swordplay of its own, and that type of action contributed to its near-record-setting box office pace, not to mention a Forceful amount of marketing tie-ins.

The anti-marketing story of NBC Sports chief Dick Ebersol's sniping over John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co.'s decision to pull out as a sponsor of NBC's coverage of the Olympic Games that earned a No. 3 spot in this month's SPINdex.

The return of Charlie the Tuna as Star-Kist Foods' spokesalbacore swam into fourth place, while the early salvo of regional advertising efforts by potential

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