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Andrew Boulton is a copywriter with a decade of scribbling experience at places like Egg the online bank, some top agencies in the Midlands and once for a man who carved dolphins out of cheese. He...

... was nominated for the Professional Publishers Association Award for Business Media Columnist of the Year despite having little or no grasp of the semi colon. He has decent hair but a disappointing beard. You can follow him on Twitter @Boultini.

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15 December 2012 - 1:11pm | posted by | 12 comments

Disarm: why marketing’s biggest challenge is to persuade America to give up its guns

Disarm: why marketing’s biggest challenge is to persuade America to give up its gunsDisarm: why marketing’s biggest challenge is to persuade America to

Like everyone else who heard the news of yesterday’s Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut, I am shocked, horrified and saddened. I’m quite sure that the hearts of every one in this country go out to the parents and the community.

And yet, if you were to gauge the mood last night on Twitter, another emotion appears to be dominating people’s thoughts, even more so than the grief and sympathy. Anger.

I know that I could never understand the mentality of someone who would commit such an atrocity, but I’d like to think I could empathise with the policies and attitudes of the Government of a democratic nation. In this case, I am at a loss.

It is not our place to judge or harangue America over the way it governs itself. But it is very much our right to evaluate and criticise a political stance that can directly lead to the deaths of 27 innocent people, most of whom were children.

As ever, our response to these incidents (of which this is the latest in an all too long sequence) is simply ‘why?’.

Why does the law of the land permit (some would even say encourage) the ownership of firearms? Why is it so relatively easy to obtain a lethal weapon in a modern, civilised society? Why is a document written over 200 year ago impervious to social evolution even though this particular part of it is at best irrelevant and at worse dangerous.

The unrestrained fury that has swept across the world of social media is born out of this confusion. This appalling incident was committed by a mad man, but it was committed in an environment in which mad men are given the opportunity to destroy lives.

Piers Morgan is not a man I would care to be trapped in a lift with, but I found his incandescence in the face of the dogmatic pro-gun arguments to be incredibly admirable.

Life is not black and white, never less so than in the ‘red, white and blue’, but one thing must, must, must be true, and that is if guns are so readily accessible, occasionally they will find the way into the hands of maniac.

This is not opinion, this is a fact that is carved in the headstones of 13 people from Columbine, 12 people from a cinema in Colorado, 32 people from Virginia Tech. Depressingly I could go on.

Now, surely, must be the time for the fight. For making a powerful, irrefutable case that the United States must accept and implement tighter gun control.

I work in the world of marketing, and I have seen the extraordinary powers of persuasion exercised by the finest minds in the industry.

Marketing elects Presidents. It opens a film to hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue in a single weekend. It builds empires, it destroys preconceptions, it changes people's minds.

Step forward then the marketers. Build a campaign that cannot be ignored or denied. One that implores people to think more of the broken hearted parents who will be burying their children this week than of a piece of paper from the 18th century that has no place or purpose in the modern world.

The argument is complicated and sensitive, and there are those who will never be persuaded. But every time one of these tragedies occurs and so many lives are pointlessly lost, the element of doubt creeps deeper and deeper into the American psyche.

The right words, the right message at the right time can build the kind of spirit and momentum that can carry the United States into a safer, brighter future.

I understand that some people will feel that is not my right to air my views about another country’s culture and society. I accept that.

I also understand that there are gun owners in the USA who are responsible and careful, and they would legitimately feel aggrieved if they were punished because of the actions of a handful of psychopaths. I accept that too.

My only defence is that we know what the current climate will bring. If no action is taken, this will happen again. Doing nothing has not worked, so doing something is the only option left, even it upsets some people.

I believe the message of tighter gun control is one, today more than ever, that can be sold to the American people. I know I’d buy it.


Andrew Boulton is a copywriter at the Together Agency.


15 Dec 2012 - 15:31
gille13601's picture

You are the MAIN PROBLEM!! The so called 200 year old document IS our COUNTRY!! If you don't believe in the constitution then DON'T call yourself an American. Call yourself a traitor and move out to France or England. It's time

16 Dec 2012 - 10:39
malcolm_tucker's picture

Decent article and I hope the industry will take your ideas forward. Quite a departure from your usual banal and inane ramblings.

16 Dec 2012 - 18:47
jimga13587's picture

2 points.

The first comment is from someone who is clearly content for the murder of children to continue unabated in their country.

The second comment from the pathetic individual who is too ashamed or frightened to post under their own real name and instead calls them self ‘Malcolm Tucker' is the kind of smug and tedious remark we've all come to expect from this prick.

Great article though.

16 Dec 2012 - 19:11
andrewboulton's picture

Steady on everyone.

Firstly, to you Gille, I say in the article that I quite accept it's not my place as a foreigner to criticise America's policy or society. But when 20 children are killed because your constitution permits (and even encourages) people to own guns then I think you'll find there are very people in the world who would not look at that situation and question whether re-examining that constitution is a price worth paying to create a country in which parents do not have to fear for the lives of their children while they are in a primary school of all places. Fair point?

Now, Malcolm (can I call you Malcolm?) imagine my delight when I saw that you have actually found something positive to say about one of my articles, Happy days. Although, tell me this. For someone who clearly loathes every article I write, why do you seem to keep on reading them?

Finally, Jimga. Terribly kind of you to stand up for me and I'm glad you liked the article. Just to bring a bit of balance to your points I genuinely don't think that Gille is content to live in a society where children are vulnerable to these kind of attacks. It's only natural that they should feel defensive of their country at a time like this.

And, as for your comments about our friend Malcolm, I'm quite sure that deep down he isn't really a ‘prick'.

Cheers all of you for reading the piece and sharing your thoughts though.

16 Dec 2012 - 23:04
malcolm_tucker's picture

Andrew, I don't loath your articles at all, and yes I'm an avid reader. You see I suffer from chronic insomnia and I find that your articles are a great aid for inducing sleep. There;s a voice-over recording studio in the building where I work and Stephen Fry is always popping in and out. Next time I see him I'm going to grab him and force him to make a recording of your collective musings which I will then play on a continuous loop whenever I'm really struggling to fall asleep. Better yet, I can get that fucking Melvyn Bragg to do it. Yeah I think I can market such a recording for insomniacs the world over. If that ever becomes a reality we'll have to discuss royalties and the like. So don't let my remarks ever discourage you from writing for the Drum - keep em coming (not that I thought for a second that would ever be the case) Now as I previously mentioned this particular article of yours is a very serious one compared to your usual offerings, and rightly so as the subject matter doesn't get more serious than a class full of infants and their teachers getting slaughtered by some fuckwank who had easy access to a fucking assault rifle that his tit-arse mother was legally allowed to obtain. So I would encourage you to press on with your ideas, don't just write this article and leave it at that. If you can start something concrete that would finally make the Yanks appreciate what a fucked-up mindset they have with this sacred cow second amendment bullshit, it will be the most important and commendable thing that you are ever likely to do in your life. All those copy-writing awards that you so desperately covet would pale into insignificance compared to this. Honestly, all these industry awards (not just copy writing) aren't worth a cup of cold piss. Aim higher.

17 Dec 2012 - 08:47
scott@traffic's picture

Carnyx Group - please find out who 'gille13601' is and delete their account. They are obviously just too fkn dumb to be a member of this group.

17 Dec 2012 - 10:44
rosiemilton's picture

There's no point in defending the right to hold arms (this is the biggest argument - for self-protection), if the people losing their lives cannot defend themselves.

17 Dec 2012 - 10:58
miked11445's picture

Tragic indeed, but the guns the USA needs to get rid of most of all are the ones the sell, give, but most of all use overseas. Children are killed, some by drones, on a regular basis. Has Obama no tears left for them? God bless the children and families across the Middle East...

17 Dec 2012 - 11:09
scott@traffic's picture

miked11445 - Mike, your way off the mark here or are you just trying to rile people? I'm outta here now if it seems its just the loonies posting stupid comments now

17 Dec 2012 - 11:13
J_Price's picture

Decent article with some good points. Please see some of Mr Bill Hicks's social wisdom. Very apt even 20 years on.

Re: Guns IMHO The mentality is broken. Sure, must be great fun firing at paper targets to improve skill but done far more harm of people fearing than making them feel safe. When you have the right to bear arms because you fear your neighbour who has decided to bear arms because he thinks 'you' are going to buy a gun. It's a catalyst for disaster.

17 Dec 2012 - 13:27
Spottswoode's picture

Killers are going to kill. Gun, crossbow, sword, knife, screwdriver, bomb. Ban one they'll use the other. Though I don't believe in the ownership of guns, banning them will probably at best limit the number of casualties in these instances not stop them happening. Banning them to cut the other 10,000 deaths by guns used in daily life is more appropriate.

17 Dec 2012 - 15:50
rhall19389's picture

Oh dear Malcolm. If ever there wasn't a time or place to vent such bitterness this must surely be it. What kind of numpty is unable to keep such futile comments to themselves when such a valid and worthwhile argument for positive change is being made.

Great article Andrew.

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