Gun violence is a prominent issue in America as numerous events of mass shootings have been occurring over the past few years. A lot of these, unfortunately, happen within schools and involve innocent children. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, an organization created in order to prevent gun violence, announced a public service advertising campaign in 2013. It featured a series of print advertisements that portray guns alongside other so-called “harmful” objects that were banned in America with the intention of protecting children. One of the advertisements featured a banned children’s book, “Little Red Riding Hood”, and a gun that is permitted. That alone speaks volumes on the absurdity of the current gun regulation situation in America. The advertisement powerfully presents the importance of gun sense by incorporating various persuasive features such as pathos, logos, and ethos, and creating a scene that simply but surely proves to people that change is necessary.
At first glance, the advertisement features two serious-looking little girls. One is holding the book “Little Red Riding Hood” and the other is holding an AR-15 rifle. The text above their heads reads “ONE CHILD IS HOLDING SOMETHING THAT’S BEEN BANNED IN AMERICA TO PROTECT THEM”, followed by prominent red text that tells the reader, “GUESS WHICH ONE”. What’s supposed to be an easy answer is wiped out by the reality behind this question. “Little Red Riding Hood” is banned as opposed to the terrifying weapon in the hands of a little child. The advertisement goes on to explain in small text at the bottom that “Little Red Riding Hood” was banned due to the bottle of wine in the characters basket. This raises the question of why would an illustration cause such an uproar as to have the book banned, but a deadly weapon is so openly available even after numerous mass shootings occurred. The advertisement sends out a clear message that should change public attitude and behavior towards this issue.
Color is an important element in this advertisement. It incorporates a dull, brown, earthy color scheme which plays a role in creating the atmosphere of the advertisement by giving it a more serious touch, and further highlighting the expressions of the two girls. This color scheme gives the girls less of a living factor and makes it seem like their childlike nature and energy was killed and replaced by fear, which further suggests the brutality of the issue. Advertisers often use specific color pallets in order to subconsciously affect viewers and to achieve the intended response as well as to strengthen the persuasive factor of the advertisement.
Moreover, this public service advertisement has a very clear intended audience. It features a cause that’s important for us all to divert some of our attention to, but it’s especially vital for parents in America who will be seeing this advertisement and very likely picturing their own children in place of the little girl that’s holding the gun. The creators of the advertisement also shed focus on American educational representatives and legislators since without their contribution not a lot of change will happen. The advertisement is showing these groups of people that their input is needed and that without it more innocent lives will be lost. When looking at the background of the advertisement, one can see the flag of America, which further portrays the target demographic of the advertisement.
A prominent persuasive feature in this advertisement is pathos, the appeal to emotion. The advertisement is centered around the youth, and the incorporation of the two young girls plays an important role in persuading people that gun violence is a serious issue. Individuals will be replacing the image of the girl holding the gun with an image of a child that they know, and that will strike them even harder. Simply seeing a child holding a gun is a stupefying shock factor that grabs a lot of attention and awakens a feeling of fear in the individuals that view the advertisement. The serious face expressions of the two girls further affect the emotions of individuals and show that this is no laughing matter. It’s heart-wrenching to even imagine your own child holding or using a gun, let alone losing their life due to gun violence. It strongly pulls on the strings of people’s hearts in the simplest of terms. Individuals will likely spend a lot of time thinking back to the advertisement and replay certain gruesome mass shootings that they’ve heard of in the past, meanwhile incorporating their own relatives into the picture. It may emotionally persuade them that change won’t happen without their input and encourage them to spread the message of the advertisement, form petitions, and even contribute to the eradication of this unfathomable problem.
The creators of the advertisement also incorporated logos, the appeal to reason, in a very clever manner. When posed with the statements “ONE CHILD IS HOLDING SOMETHING THAT’S BEEN BANNED IN AMERICA TO PROTECT THEM” and “GUESS WHICH ONE”, individuals would normally come to the conclusion that assault weapons would be the logical object to ban. However, when looking closer into the advertisement one can understand that the book is banned, and that raises a lot of questions. This is a usage of reverse logic. It’s an appeal that is created to show people the severity of the problem by putting the assault weapon alongside the book and asking people which of these two items is banned. Seeing that puts people on the spot and visually portrays to them the absurdity of the matter. The use of a book in the advertisement is a factor that further strengthens the message of the advertisement since books are a source of knowledge, and “Little Red Riding Hood” itself is a very famous children’s book with an important message. Due to the recognition that this book has, it’s smart to incorporate its ban in this advertisement, since a majority of people are very familiar with the story. The background of the advertisement appears to be a school library, which is a factor that stresses on the relation between knowledge and gun violence in this advertisement, and further ties in the comparison between the book and the deadly weapon. Additionally, the book is banned to protect children due to the illustration of wine in the character’s basket, and logically an illustration would have a smaller impact on the welfare of children than a physical gun that they can be openly exposed to.
Ethos, the appeal to the sense of trust, is also presented in this advertisement. The organization, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, is the appeal. It’s a well-known, widespread organization in the US that has branches in all 50 states. It was established in 2012 and since then has been actively flourishing and successfully causing change on various levels. The organization has even partnered with a similar organization called Mayors Against Illegal Guns in order to form a movement of Americans that put their hands together to end the epidemic of gun violence. This gives the advertisement more credibility which strengthens its message and shows people that the campaign has a strong group of people behind it, who are diligently working towards creating a safer society and going beyond measures in order to reach even more people with the message of their actions.
The clever incorporation of the three appeals and effective color scheme to portray the importance of gun sense in America very strongly supports the message of the campaign and further provides exposure to the organization that would open doors for more people to contribute to the cause. It’s a very powerful advertisement that should start more conversations and push more legislators and educational representatives to invest time into providing an improved society for the current generation, and generations to come. The youth is the future and it’s vital to construct an environment in which they can safely and fearlessly explore, grow, and flourish.