A shooting range in Texas said this week it replaced guns with puppies in a television ad — and got approval in less than a day.
At first a gimmick born out of frustration, Shoot Smart Operations Director Jared Sloane told Guns.com Thursday the commercial illustrates a double standard in gun industry advertisements.
“Fans and customers love the ad,” he said. “They appreciate our perspective and because they know and trust us, they recognize the ridiculousness of network executives … the same executives that approve violence in their network programs, but not discussions about firearm safety and training.”
Shoot Smart operates three ranges in Fort Worth, Grand Praire and Benbrook, Texas. The company also offers training courses, safety seminars and a small retail section — although says it can’t advertise any of this information on Facebook, YouTube, or local television stations because “somewhere along the way,” a ban on gun sale advertisements expanded to include ranges and training.
“We have never been permitted to advertise on television when firearms were included in frame, and we’ve been repeatedly rejected from networks because we are a gun range,” Sloane said.
Sloane said the puppy ad won approval from local cable stations, who’ve reluctantly aired other commercials for Shoot Smart in the past. Local broadcast stations, however, “won’t entertain the idea,” citing station policy.
The Federal Communications Commission didn’t return requests for comment from Guns.com Thursday. As far as Sloane knows, the agency doesn’t regulate gun advertisements, though many broadcast and cable channels craft their own policies banning commercials selling firearms and ammunition.
“I also believe it’s a case by case basis and up to their judgement,” Sloane said. “But, that is why it’s so frustrating. We get media reps all the time that approach us to sell us ads from all types of media only to get informed we can’t do it later on in the process. We have run some cable ads in the past without showing firearms.”
Sloane said social media advertising policies prove far more unpredictable. “In the past, we have spent thousands on Facebook and Google AdWords, but then out of nowhere, our ads started getting denied,” he said. “When we ask Facebook or Google why we no longer can advertise, it’s always the same response.”
The message, Sloane said, cites a “zero tolerance policy” toward ads explicitly promoting weapons sales, “which includes, but isn’t limited to promotion through gun ranges.”
“So, in turn, we deleted the link on our page that went to the store (a small part of our business),” he said. “We then created new ads and started fresh, but we were still declined.”
“The problem isn’t the rules and why they prohibit the advertising, the problem is the inconsistency,” Sloane said. “Sometimes our Facebook ads are approved and sometimes they aren’t (majority of time), but then we will see an ad that another company is running that is flat out promoting gun or accessories sales. It makes no sense! We just would like a little consistency.”