Thursday, 1 September 2011

I'll hate you, you'll hate me, we'll both get rich

Start with a media that loves adversarialism: for anything that happens, there has to be somebody who's angry about it. If there's nobody that's angry about it for an aggrieved reaction quote, there's no story.

A firm that wants free publicity then can't do much better than to put on a promotion that will upset somebody who likes being upset. The aggrieved group complains, and there's your story. Donations flow to the aggrieved lobby group and the firm gets more media coverage than it could have hoped for otherwise.

Today's instalment: Gun City in Auckland runs a sale where one firearm in the store has a $1 price tag. You have to find which one, but if you do, the gun's yours for a dollar. Next, make sure the hoplophobes get riled up. And then instead of just paying for ad space in the Herald, you get story column inches.
A Father's Day promotion at an Auckland gun shop offering a "mystery firearm" for $1 to the first person to spot it on the racks has been labelled sick, sad and irresponsible.

But the man behind the bargain stands by his offer and says the dad who gets the gun will be "God blessed".

As part of its annual Father's Day sale Gun City in Mt Roskill is offering a special deal to one lucky punter on Saturday. If they spot the gun with the $1 price tag - it's theirs to buy, providing they have a current Firearms Licence.

But anti-gun lobbyists say the promotion may send the wrong message to the public.

Professor Kevin Clements, director of the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at Otago University, said there were already "more than enough guns" in New Zealand.

"I think that it is a very sick and sad promotion for Father's Day," he said.

"New Zealand already has 230,000 licensed firearms owners and over a million weapons. The assumption that a father needs or wants a new gun for Father's Day sends all the wrong messages to children and partners.
The marginal risk posed by another gun owned by an already-licensed owner can't be high.

The antis stir up their base and presumably generate donations; the store gets free publicity. A wonderful symbiosis.

I suppose what I need to do is send Doug Sellman a copy of my stuff with Matt and Brad on alcohol social costs so he can get angry about it and generate press for both of us and more donations for his charitable-tax-status lobby group. Then we could go and have a beer afterwards and laugh about it. Like professional wrestlers after a match. Except the audience is kinda in on it with professional wrestling. And I'm not sure Sellman would either want a beer or have one with me.

Academia's not so different either. Citations get counted, not weighed, so a good professional adversarialism (I trash your papers, you trash mine) can make both parties better off.

HT:, who also has been running a short series on the likely cuts to come at U Canterbury (yikes!!!). I'm hoping I've got an immunity idol on that one. My work on alcohol is being featured in the next issue of the University's monthly magazine, The Chronicle. And, I've also been asked to give one of the University's public lectures, formerly known as UC In the City (when there was a city in which to deliver the lecture) but now to be the Spring Lecture Series (on campus), yet to be scheduled for October or November. It would be perverse for them to then fire me. Or at least it makes me happy to think so.


  1. Hey Eric, can you post the details when you know when/where the lecture will happen. Would be good to see the presentation.



  2. Oh, I'm a shameless self-promoter; the lecture will get its own post when scheduled.

  3. A similar example: