Moms Demand Action targets Kroger in new campaign

PSAs question the grocer's policy for allowing loaded assault rifles in store

A new radio campaign from grassroots organization Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America is demanding that Kroger, the largest supermarket chain in the U.S., stop allowing the open carry of guns in its stores.

Developed by Grey Canada’s Toronto office, the public service announcements titled “Poodle” and “Scooter,” feature recorded customer phone calls to actual Kroger stores. Employees attempt to explain why pets and children’s scooters are prohibited from its stores due to “liability” concerns, while store policy allows shoppers to open carry loaded guns.

The ads, which ran in the Cincinnati area during the Kroger investor relations meetings last week, were paid for by the Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, the largest gun violence prevention organization in America. The radio campaign will continue to run through U.S. Thanksgiving in other markets.

According to Patrick Scissons, chief creative officer at Grey, the radio spots caused quite a stir. Kroger began pressuring radio stations to stop running the ads, and even bussed its investors away from a planned meeting on Oct. 29th in Cincinnati to avoid a Moms Demand Action rally.

“It’s obviously geared at the company in question, in terms of putting pressure on, but it also raises the profile of the overall issue of gun safety and just reinforcing what public opinion is already out there,” said Scissons. “There is a certain amount of complacency that’s happening relative to gun violence. From our standpoint, putting that juxtaposition out there helps highlight the absurdity, and what kind of priorities we need to have to move forward to make it more of a safer environment.”

The radio campaign is an extension of the “Guess Which One” campaign that launched in September. Creative for “Guess Which One” featured individuals open carrying firearms in the aisles of a supermarket alongside “banned items” such as outside food, skateboards and a lack of appropriate attire. Those ads ran as homepage takeovers in the online editions of USA Today, as well as in the Cincinnati Enquirer, Columbus Dispatch, Houston Chronicle, Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press.

Grey has been working with the organization since its inception in December 2012. The “No More Silence” campaign, which marked the anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, made the 2014 Film Lions shortlist and “It’s Time for Gun Sense” received special commendation from the jury at the 2014 Marketing Awards.

Scissons, who initiated the relationship with Moms Demand Action after seeing founder Shannon Watts on MSNBC two years ago, said while industry recognition is nice, it’s awareness and a desire to end gun violence that drives the work.

“It’s part of a larger kind of idea that we’ve been continuing with which is all about putting out factual but perspective changing ideas and communication.We’re really excited to be a part of this and this initiative is important to the Grey network as a whole. For us, this type of social cause work is something that we pride ourselves on and we’re hoping that it can bring change because that’s ultimately why we’re doing it.”

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