NRA's ad agency Ackerman McQueen ends 38-year relationship

It comes amid internal chaos and turmoil at the NRA which was 'self-inflicted' and 'could have been avoided,' says the agency.

NRA's ad agency Ackerman McQueen ends 38-year relationship

The National Rifle Association's (NRA) advertising agency has pulled the plug on its decades-long relationship.

Ackerman McQueen (AM), a shop based in Oklahoma City, announced the decision this week following months of internal chaos inside one of America’s most controversial brands.

Trouble brewed earlier this year when the NRA’s EVP and CEO Wayne LaPierre caught wind of questions that were being raised regarding group spend by unpaid NRA President Oliver North.

Trouble escalated in April when the NRA sued AM for refusing to provide details of a contract it had with North, who has since stepped down.

The agency said in a statement on Wednesday: "Today, faced with the NRA’s many inexplicable actions that have constructively terminated the parties’ Services Agreement, Ackerman McQueen decided it is time to stand up for the truth, and formally provide a Notice to Terminate its almost four-decade long relationship with the National Rifle Association.

"The turmoil the NRA faces today was self-inflicted. It could have been avoided. We deeply regret that it wasn’t."

AM is responsible for some of the NRA's most notorious campaigns to relax gun legislation across the U.S.

The organization recently doubled-down on its war against the media and mass shootings by launching NRATV and driving its propaganda on YouTube.

However, last year saw the first major turning point in terms of brand attitude toward the NRA.

In the month since 17 students were murdered by a gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida in February 2018, many companies did their best to distance themselves from the institution.

Big names like Delta and Enterprise went one step further by publicly disassociating themselves from the NRA altogether. There is a lot to gain from this. But what’s more significant is how much the gun club stands to lose.

"Disassociating from the NRA may not yield a significant shift in perception or preference for its partner brands, however, because these brands have benefited the NRA’s brand by providing positive associations, their removal may hurt the NRA’s long-term perception," Kyle Boots, director of brand and social analytics at Y&R’s research arm, BAV, told Campaign US at the time.

— DICK'S Sporting Goods (@DICKS) March 2, 2018

"The NRA has historically benefited from major brand associations like Walmart, Kroger, Enterprise whose brand perceptions are especially strong on measures such as approachability and reliability."

Research from BAV, which measured nine million data points across 56,000 brands, suggests that the NRA has found itself in a crisis because it has no humanistic attributes to lean into to counterbalance the negativity --  the vital element that NRA-affiliated brands brought to the table. It also found that NRA-affiliated brands did not benefit from their association with the brand.


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