At times we are blinded by our own beliefs that have been ingrained in us from such a young age. From our religion, morals, to our toothpaste brand our opinions reflect these beliefs without the glimpse of reflection until faced with diversity. How is it then that some brands are able to reverse such strong minded people with diverse messaging? For better or worse it can be done. But how?

The second amendment, the right to bear arms is one of those beliefs that remain wedged. A topic that teeters on the opinions of those in the middle of polar opposites- those who will either buy their first gun or those who won’t. One grassroots network, States United to Prevent Gun Violence (PSA) wanted to ensure that although a right, buying a gun will cause more harm than protection.

PSA took a chance with their shock campaign ‘Guns with History’ to address those with wavering opinions. By putting cause and effect together in one lower Manhattan gun store the opinions of many changed in a matter of minutes. Check out the video:


PSA needed to create a moment, an experience that truly resonated with their target audience. This shock campaign took two parts- a viral video of patrons wanting to purchase their first gun and a well-designed microsite to outline the stories of the guns. Both the video and microsite together told stories about a particular gun and the murders behind them- debunking the myth that guns are synonymous with protection. The power of holding a gun, feeling vicariously through another was enough to make a difference in the minds of many. Grey Advertising gathered the results of this campaign, providing these numbers:

  • 775 million earned impressions
  • 13 million views
  • $12.2 earned media value
  • 3000% increase in donations
  • 1250% increase in signed petitions

These numbers provide some insight into the product of using the proper tools such as videos and microsites to deliver a message of high viralalbility. See the video below for a look at the sharability of this campaign:


To any Marketing Directors out there asking themselves, how do I convince stakeholders that storytelling, videos and microsites generate value, this campaign is highly useful. This concept as stated above reached millions of people and generated a tangible revenue figure. It goes to show that when investing capital into marketing campaigns the stronger the emotional connect, the stronger the story and stronger the time investment, the dividends will follow suit. Even the most volatile topics are subject to change when the proper tools are put into place.