NRA 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 ad agency Ackerman McQueen ends 38-year relationship

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

Ackerman McQueen, 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 this year when NRA EVP and CEO Wayne LaPierre caught wind of questions about group spend by unpaid NRA president Oliver North.

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

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

Ackerman McQueen is responsible for some of the NRA's most well-known campaigns to relax gun legislation across the U.S.

The organization recently doubled-down on its war against the media 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 distanced themselves from the institution.

Big names such as Delta Air Lines and Enterprise went one step further by publicly disassociating themselves from the NRA altogether. 

"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 U.S. at the time.

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

Research from BAV, which measured 9 million data points across 56,000 brands, suggested 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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