Sex sells, but what about guns and ammo?

 abc.net.au  2/14/2018 7:44:03 PM   Patrick Williams

Updated February 15, 2018 07:04:06

They say sex sells. But how do you feel about guns and ammo?

A new billboard advertising a Brisbane-based gun shop, spotted on the Bruce Highway through the Sunshine Coast, north of Brisbane, is causing a stir online this week.

The advertisement for Gun World Australia shows a line-up of more than a dozen bullets from big to small, along with the words:" Size does matter".

A photo of the billboard was posted on a local community Facebook group over the weekend.

"Does this billboard belong here … or does it not?" the post asked.

Hundreds of people weighed in, debating over whether the billboard was appropriate.

So are gun shops allowed to advertise their product?

Yes they are.

Guns and ammunition can be legally purchased and owned in Australia through registered dealers.

And like any other legal business, these dealers have the right to advertise their products through available means.

'They're looking to get controversy'

Australian National University's marketing expert Dr Andrew Hughes said the ad was designed to cause controversary.

"That's the whole idea of the design," Dr Hughes said.

He said there were no special rules or restrictions around the advertisement of guns, but like all other ads they cannot be offensive.

"Advertising is a self-regulating industry, so in some states and territories there are some restrictions but usually they're quite board and left up to the industry and companies themselves," he said

"You can make complaints about ads like this, you can say an ad like this is quite offensive.

"I can imagine that ad won't be up there too long before someone makes a lot of complaints and it's taken down.

"It could be about the implied innuendo with the slogan, it could be also because the display of different bullets."

The University of Queensland business school's Dr Liz Ferrier, who lectures in advertising, said the ad was reaching those beyond the shop's target audience.

"They're looking to get controversy. They could go niche and get the right people, but this is in your face," she said.

"Controversy for a brand like this, it wouldn't be good for some brands, but for this one that's going for … their target consumer is not going to mind this sort of tongue-in-cheek, bad taste humour at all. It's not going to damage their brand.

"Their particular clientele won't give a rat's whether it's tasteless or not, they'll think everyone's being too politically correct."

Dr Ferroer said outdoor advertising avenues such as billboards had seen a resurgence in popularity these past few years.

"Previous it wasn't as united, but now it's a big national network and there's a measuring system that everyone agrees on," Dr Ferrier said.

Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) told ABC News they have received a small number complaints over the billboard.

A spokeswoman said they were still being processed.

"If the complaints raise an issue under the code [of ethics] then a case will be raised," the spokeswoman said.

According to the ASB website, if the billboard is investigated and a complaint upheld, the advertiser is requested to remove or amend the offending advertisement as soon as possible after receiving a copy of the draft case report.

'Our business is not to offend people'

Gun World Australia manager Jason Muller said he welcomed feedback for the billboard, both positive and negative

"Everyone's entitled to their opinion, it's a free country," he said.

"It's advertising, it's accepted by the advertising standards bureau and they've approved it. At the end of the day it's up to people to perceive it however they like … we support the sporting shooting industry and people following the sport."

Mr Muller said as far as he was concerned the billboard has been a success.

"We get a lot of people commenting on how good it is to see advertising going on for the shooting industry. A lot of people are ringing through and customers coming into the store to say how great they are," he said.

Mr Muller said the advertisement was designed in-house with help from the billboard company.

"Our business is not to offend people but to broaden the awareness of the competition and the competitive sport of shooting and a wide variety of hunters that are in south-east Queensland," he said.

Gun World Australia is no stranger to controversary over its billboards.

Late last year a Christmas-themed billboard drew the ire of some in Brisbane and Ipswich.

The billboard featured a young woman wielding a handgun and dressed in a Santa outfit, along with the words, "Santa knows what you really want for Christmas".

Complaints were made to the ASB and it was investigated but were eventually dismissed.

Topics: information-and-communication, advertising, brisbane-4000, maroochydore-4558, qld

First posted February 15, 2018 06:44:03

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