25 February 2018

Delta NRA twitterJim Collins writes: “An important and crucial quality of (Level 5) leadership is is to never blame others when things go wrong.”

The same applies to leading brands and their responsibility to the community they serve. It’s essential a brand talks with one clear voice and that the message is clear.

The message from the National Rifle Association (NRA) this week was certainly clear. But they make a cardinal sin by blaming everyone for their inadequacies as opposed to sympathising with the concerned victims and sharing responsibility.

Their reaction left me speechless. This is what they wrote:

“The law-abiding members of the NRA had nothing at all to do with the failure of that school’s security preparedness, the failure of America’s mental health system, the failure of the National Instant Check System or the cruel failures of both federal and local law enforcement.”

The good news? The backlash to this response shows that common sense does seem to have a place in society in the US after all.

The NRA’s response

Whilst Donald Trump may have happily accepted support from the NRA for campaigns, to the tune of $30 million, other very large household names are calling it a day and removing their association.

Still instead of a calm and rational approach from the NRA, blame seems to be the order of the day. It’s a tactic that may have served them well in the past. However, an antiquated NRA is about to learn a painful lesson: Blame is simply not an acceptable form of defence.

They spout: “Some corporations have decided to punish NRA membership in a shameful display of political and civic cowardice.”

The reality is that around twenty brands have cut ties with the NRA already following the 18th shooting in the country since the year began. Many cutting discount programmes they run with the organisation, all public denouncing them.

Brands include airlines Delta and United, car hire brands Hertz, Budget and Avis. As well as hotels Best Western and Wyndham Hotels and software firms Symantec and Norton.

According to a Guardian article about the news, Chubb – the insurance firm – has dropped cover for NRA Carry Guard insurance too. This insured gun owners for costs incurred, including legal fees, if they shot someone and claim self-defence.Donald Trump tweet about american gun laws and Hillary Clinton 2016

Power of the people

After a week of appalling retorts to the victims and school children affected in the atrocities, the power of a new social media movement is making itself heard. Loud and clear.

The exodus of businesses disassociating themselves with the NRA also demonstrates it’s not just the kids and those affected that are concerned. There is a huge and ever-growing political movement and rallying of the population to reassess gun laws in the States. Social media and pressure groups including Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America have been pushing the big firms to take action for some time. Finally they have momentum.

#BoycottNRA has been building momentum on social media and consistently trending across the world. This could be an opportunity for the NRA to shift the conversation. If they were instead to rally their five million members to find a compromise to promote gun safety and improve laws without going to either extreme, they could perhaps find a softening in the reaction.

A shift in the NRA’s focus is long overdue. It is clear to the majority of the world that such wooly gun laws are not innately linked to freedom, particularly when so many people are dying at the hands of people who should never have been able to get their hands on a weapon in the first place.

NRA - statement on gun law in America

Instead, the organisation has responded horrendously, attacking everyone else and being as stubborn as ever. It is an incredible shame.

There is no denying the power that people have. We’re in an ever-increasingly connected age where it is easier than ever to find like-minded people and rally around a cause.
The kids involved in the Florida shooting are driving a movement and consumers can easily make their points heard with their wallets.

Those days are gone

The days that consumers can be taken for a ride are gone. The corporate social responsibility, ethics and morals behind a brand are important. There is so much choice in every industry and market that consumers can easily switch allegiances to a company who are more aligned in values.
That’s what we’re seeing here with the huge number of brands disassociated themselves with the NRA. I think we’ll see more stepping away as the days go on.

The challenge will be how the president reacts. Whilst he has called for minor changes in the law, as a man who likes to be popular he now find himself is between a rock and hard place. Traditionally he is in support of the current gun law situation and $30m support for his presidential campaign ties him closely with the NRA. Equally, many of the supporters he rallied to win the presidency are avid gun supporters. So how does he balance common sense and safety? Combining doing the right thing with ensuring his second term in office which is clearly a priority for him? I don’t envy the job of resolving the issue with guns in America.

To me, it’s simple. Ban them! If it makes you unpopular but saves even one life, you have to follow through and ban them every day.

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