The Prepare for Misuse campaign builds off Brady & Ad Council’s long-standing End Family Fire initiative that aims to save lives through advocating for safe and secure gun storage.
The idea for this campaign was sparked by the fact that 40% of gun owners report keeping a loaded gun within reach at all times when they’re home – loaded and prepared for use.
“Prepared for use”, a common refrain, represents the mindset that millions of gun owners across the country possess – that their guns will keep them safe, and therefore an unlocked gun is safer than a locked one. The opposite is true. Unsecured firearms kill or injure 8 US children every day. In flipping this phrase and narrative, we set out to show the irony of this false perception by offering an unacceptable alternative.
We set out to create a comprehensive campaign that included OOH, social, and TV and targeted cities with a high density of gun owners. We needed to connect with the gun-owning audience and change their behavior through objective truth: if your gun is prepared for use, then you must also be prepared for misuse. We focused on safety as our common goal by outlining the necessary steps gun owners must take to keep their families safe should they decide not to restrict access to their guns.
Ad Council and Brady tasked us to evolve End Family Fire’s long-time focus on the dangers of unsecured guns in the home to encompass all three types of “family fire” – intentional, unintentional, and suicide. We were asked to deliver one film that could be cut into multiple lengths for linear TV and online video, along with one accompanying out-of-home execution, and a social media element.
Bringing this to life with narrative filmmaking allowed us to show all three scenarios – intentional, unintentional, and suicide – playing out back-to-back in the same bedroom, like alternate realities.
We used light, camera work, and blocking to transport our audience between instances, pulling a thread through that ties each together. Finally, we broke the fourth wall with our hero in a way that is only possible in film. Speaking directly to camera helped to underscore the urgency of our CTA, as if to say: We are talking to you.
Because this is airing on TV and potentially seen by victims of gun violence, we did not want to show blood, gore, or actual gunshots going off. Instead, we set out to paint a scene of intensity without showing it overtly on screen, balancing the need to capture the attention of gun owners without further traumatizing victims of gun violence.
For out-of-home, we aimed to capture the attention of gun owners in gun-dense areas by subverting another uniquely American fear – that someone is coming to take their guns away. While this is often used to justify the world’s laxest gun policies, the data shows that those coming for our guns are not government authorities, but our children, spouses, friends and relatives.
We also created a digital roulette experience demonstrating that when you leave your gun unlocked, you’re leaving the use of your weapon up to chance. These executions reveal some of the worst-case scenarios that can occur when guns are not stored securely.
One of our main goals with the work was to ignite conversation around safer gun storage in the United States and ultimately increase the number of gun owners who lock up their guns at home.
As soon as the campaign launched in March 2023, high-profile gun safety activists enthusiastically shared and reacted to the work on social media. Activist and Stoneman Douglass survivor David Hogg and father of Parkland shooting victim Fred Guttenberg shared our film to their millions of followers on Twitter. This exposure helped propel the work quickly across social channels, spurring commentary about the significance of safe gun storage in saving American lives.
To date, our digital campaign elements have garnered over 42,500,000 impressions online.
Since the campaign launched on March 13 2023, 16 states have passed gun safety laws in the US, with at least six of them directly related to storage practices. This includes states like Alabama and Nevada that are known to have lenient gun laws.