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Y&R Creatively Combats Gun Crime In SA

30 April 2014

With the ongoing Oscar Pistorius murder trial, the spotlight is once again on the high level of gun violence in South Africa. 18 people are shot and killed, and between 18 and 72 experience gun violence every day across the country.

An often-repeated myth is that it’s illegal guns that are the problem. As Oscar’s trial, in which he faces charges of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp with a gun he legally bought for self defence, tragically illustrates this isn’t true.

In addition to the risk of being killed by a gun – whether from murder, suicide or an accident, which most often involves children finding a gun that isn’t locked away in a safe – a further risk to owning a gun is that it is stolen or lost.

Police statistics show that over 50 firearms are stolen or lost from civilians in South Africa every day.

Guns are highly coveted by criminals, as they can be used repeatedly to commit crime. Research in South Africa shows that criminals will choose the time and place of attack to ensure their victim is most vulnerable, and that a gun owner is four times more likely to have his gun stolen than to use it in self defence.

In order to tackle the high level of gun violence in SA and to expose myths around the efficacy of a gun for protection, Y&R approached Gun Free South Africa with an advertising concept to highlight the dangers of owning a firearm.  Says Rui Alves, Executive Creative Director of Y&R South Africa’s Johannesburg office, “The core, and provocative message of the campaign is that a licensed gun owner remains connected to their gun, even after it is stolen or lost and used by criminals to threaten, injure or even kill others”.

The ad campaign consists of a TV commercial and a series of print executions, all of which were produced pro bono for Gun Free South Africa by Y&R SA.

Together with Frieze Films and Director Tony Baggott, Y&R’s TV commercial portrays a man about to commit a violent crime with a firearm. As the advert plays, Y&R cleverly places another person, who has had their firearm lost or stolen, at the scene of the crime to show that this person is also responsible for the crime – by having bought a gun, which was subsequently stolen or lost. The line, “If your stolen gun was there, so were you”, drives this message home.

Says Gun Free South Africa’s Claire Taylor, “The real strength of Y&R’s ad campaign is the call-to-action it includes in an effort to make South Africa a safer country. Both the TV and print ads end with an appeal to South African gun owners to hand in their firearms for destruction, in order to help reduce the vicious cycle of gun violence in the country”.

For more information on the procedure to hand in a licensed gun for destruction, see: http://www.gfsa.org.za/take-action/prevent-gun-violence/.