Groceries Not Guns

Nearly eight American children are shot and killed everyday. If these deaths were caused by something else than gun violence, they would immediately be investigated and regulated with the hope of preventing them from ever happening again. But not a single federal law has been passed to prevent gun violence in decades! Not even after massacres such as Columbine or Newtown. The conversation on gun control in the US is fraught with partisan politics, civil rights debates, constitutional issues, media spin and the influence of lobby groups and the gun industry.

Following the December 2012 school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut that left 28 people dead, including 20 children, MDA – ‘Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America’ was formed. MDA was founded by only one concerned mom from Illinois with the simple goal of fuelling public action so common-sense gun reforms could finally be established.

The ‘Groceries Not Guns’-campaign was divided into two phases, first targeting Starbucks and then targeting Kroger – one of the largest grocery chains in America.

Despite having banned smoking 25 feet from all locations in the so called interest of public safety, it is still allowed to bring armed weapons into Starbucks stores. So moms were asked to skip just one visit to the Coffee chain a week with the “Skip Starbucks Saturday” initiative.

In America Kroger grocery stores support a US law that allows people to bring loaded guns in stores – while skateboards, outside foods like harmless ice-cream cones or going shirtless is strictly forbidden. In Europe people shake their heads in disbelief of the stupidity in these headless American gun politics – it really is no surprise that gun violence is such a common thing in the US. MDA turned Kroger’s own rules against them by using these contrasts to create side-by-side visuals that really underlined the hypocrisy and fueled the conversation.


GREY’s first campaign for MDA, “Choose One”, launched in March 2013 and exceeded all client expectations. The campaign grew membership from one concerned mom to 105,000 actively engaged members. It generated 243 million unique views and was featured on CNN, NBC, ABC and The Washington Post. It was recognized by the White House and helped achieve 91% public support for the proposed assault weapon ban (but it unfortunately failed to win over Senators who were in the pocket of the NRA).

Groceries Not Guns also exceeded all expectations. Receipts showing over $250,000 in lost Kroger revenue, as a result of boycotts, were posted by consumers at in the first 48 hours alone. The new corporate policies initially established in Starbucks spread to Target, Kroger, Albertsons and Safeway, creating 15,763 new no-carry zones, frequented by over seven million Americans every day. The Moms Demand Action community increased more than 10% during the “Skip Starbucks Saturday” campaign, from 105,458 to 117,027, and then more than doubled to over 330,000 members following “Groceries Not Guns.”

From a campaign budget of less than $350,000, over 1.5 million individual responses were generated, including 360,000 petition signatures and 16,000 complaint calls to Kroger. Earned media from “Skip Starbucks Saturday” totalled nearly four million impressions, with “Groceries Not Guns” generating another 350 million unique earned media impressions.

Statistics on gun violence in the US:

  • There were 372 mass shootings in the US in 2015 (475 people killed and 1.870 wounded)
  • There were 64 school shootings in 2015 (including incidents where a gun was fired but no-one was hurt
  • More than 13.286 people were killed in the US by firearms in 2015, 26,819 people were injured (excluding suicides)
  • Nearly eight American children are shot and killed everyday
  • The number of gun murders per capita in the US in 2012 – the most recent year for comparable statistics – was nearly 30 times that in the UK, at 2.9 per 100,000 compared with just 0.1.
  • Of all the murders in the US in 2012, 60% were by firearm compared with 31% in Canada, 18.2% in Australia, and just 10% in the UK.

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