Type: Cinema advert (135 seconds).
Director: Dougal Wilson
Agency: Mother. Post production: MPC
Page Reference: Livingston, D. (2011) Teleshopping AK-47. followthethings.com (www.followthethings.com/teleshopping.shtml last accessed <insert date here>)
Joke or reality? Check out this spoof teleshopping advert showing the ease at which AK-47 can be purchased due to loopholes in international laws (Source: Rafferty 2008, np link).
Amnesty International is launching a startling campaign this week featuring a young boy testing out an AK-47 on a home shopping channel, hoping to highlight the ease with which arms traders circumvent gun laws. The advertisements, which will be shown in cinemas starting on Friday, feature guns for sale in the same living-room like format used to sell items ranging from toasters to diamond rings. . . . In the two-minute advertisement, two presenters seated in a living room extol the virtues of the AK-47 to their viewers and suggest that it is so simple to use, that even a child can handle it. As proof of their claims, a young boy comes forward to fire off a few bursts. . . . The advertisement is part of a campaign aiming to collect 1 million signatures calling for the United Nations to devise control the sales of deadly weapons (Source: Anon 2006a, np).
Amnesty . . . is today launching a campaign to raise awareness of the need for an international arms trade treaty to create legally binding arms controls and to regulate the sale of guns. . . . The provocative cinema ad will be shown across the UK for the next four weeks, with space donated by Pearl and Dean. The ad takes the form of a spoof teleshopping channel promotion. Sales presenters are seen talking up the firepower and reliability of the AK47 as a young boy demonstrates how the gun is so easy to use that even a child can fire it. Buyers are even offered ammunition thrown in free when they place their order. The final caption reads ‘The arms trade is out of control’ and asks people to text their name and the word ‘arms’ to 84118 to join the "Million Faces’ petition for action to control the sales of deadly weapons (Source: Day 2006, np link).
Mother's first campaign for Amnesty International is a darkly comedic pastiche of daytime TV shopping channels, with arms for sale in the place of the more traditional keep-fit devices. ... the 135-second cinema ad sets out to grab viewers' attention by offering AK-47 machine guns for sale via the spoof shopping channel Teleshop. Sales presenters talk up the weapon, describing how loopholes in international law make it very unlikely that anyone purchasing one will ever be prosecuted. They go on to explain how payment is accepted in hard cash or diamonds, and how the guns are so easy to work that even children can use them - as evidenced by a number of ongoing civil wars in Africa fought by child soldiers (Source Anon 2006b, np link).
To raise awareness of its campaign for a tightening on the restrictions governing the arms trade, Amnesty International teamed up with Mother and director Dougal Wilson to produce this clever spot. The action takes place on the pastel-coloured set of TeleShop, a spookily accurate parody of a chintzy shopping channel studio, where the two presenters are revealing the latest product up for grabs: ‘the villain's favourite, a veteran of more than 75 wars, it's the AK-47 assault rifle!’ exclaims a joyous and suitably tanned Clive. ‘We'll accept hard cash, dollars through offshore accounts... we'll even accept diamonds,’ he cheerily informs us. The casting and dialogue is spot on but the serious message - that there are massive loopholes in the laws that govern the arms trade - isn't eclipsed by the satire. It hits home when a kid is brought onto the set to demo just how easy the AK-47 rifle is to use. Even a child can handle it, Clive points out, as they regularly do as soldiers in places like Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Source: Anon 2006c, p.64).
TV presenter Angus Purden told yesterday why he is backing a shocking advertising campaign against the arms trade. The Scot plays a shopping channel presenter selling a Kalashnikov machine-gun in the hard-hitting spoof. Angus, 31, is seen selling the rifle to viewers for less than £500 - with a year's supply of ammo for quick orders. The adverts - filmed for human rights campaigners Amnesty International - will be shown in cinemas across Britain. The advert aims to highlight the lax controls on the arms trade. It has already been circulating on email before the official launch next week. Angus, who fronts the BBC's Cash In The Attic, is seen with a female assistant on a fictional TV channel called Teleshop. In their sales pitch, they explain the assault rifle is a veteran of more than 75 wars and that ‘shoppers’ who call within the hour will get a year's free ammunition. Angus tells his sidekick: ‘You don't need to worry about getting into trouble. Surprisingly, there are convenient loopholes governing the arms trade around the world.’ He then hands the gun over to a schoolboy who proceeds to blast a tailor's dummy to pieces. ‘Look, that's the head, lungs, hearts, obliterated... fantastic,’ says Angus, before switching back to a feature on his 'n' her dressing gowns. More than 550 million small arms are in circulation across the world. The light-weight Kalashnikov - the AK-47 - is used in wars across Africa and thousands are in the hands of children (Source: Roberts 2006, p.45 link).
The two-minute commercial is shot to resemble a TV shopping channel. Two tanned and jovial presenters in a pastel-coloured studio make us an offer we can't refuse. TeleShop has 10,000 AK-47 assault rifles stored in secret locations outside the UK. Phone now to buy 'the villain's favourite', a veteran of more than 75 wars. Hard cash, dollars processed through offshore accounts and even diamonds are acceptable in payment. 'There are rather convenient loopholes in the rules governing the arms trade around the world, so you needn't worry - you won't get in trouble,' explains Clive, who is wearing a pink shirt. 'That's good to know, Clive,' says Sue, 'and it's good for business as well.' All the details of tele-shopping are well observed. The channel's logo, a shopping trolley, is permanently on screen and the rifle is displayed throughout in a graphic box, showing the TeleShop price-saving. The number of units sold climbs rapidly, until it exceeds 9000, and further information about the rifle scrolls along the bottom of the screen. The AK-47 reposes on a rotating stand covered in blue velvet, and the spot captures the patronisingly upbeat language of commercial inducement to a tee. 'I might have to treat myself to one, I think,' coos Sue. Informing viewers that child soldiers in Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo use the weapon, the presenters introduce a teenage boy, Sam, who machine-guns a mannequin, leaving smoking holes in the dummy's polo shirt. 'Head. Lungs. Heart - obliterated,' Clive enthuses. 'Fantastic’ (Source: Poyner nd, np link).
The cinema ad ... is part of a multimedia campaign to get 1m people to sign Amnesty's petition. The campaign is calling on the United Nations to introduce an international arms trade treaty that would create legally binding arms controls and ensure that all governments regulate arms sales to the same basic international standards. ... The UK is one of more than 40 countries that have stated their support for such a treaty. The global arms trade is worth $21bn (£11.7bn) a year (Source: Pearlman 2006, np link).
The ad is backed with a DM campaign, which features models posing with weapons shot in the style of a spoof mail-order catalogue, and is completed with online and viral elements (Source: Anon nd link)
A copy of a spoof ‘Teleshop’ arms catalogue, a squirrel postcard and a pendant in the shape of an AK47 assault rifle.
One three-panel, full colour printed leaflet (6 x 9 in.) on 170gsm gloss paper, containing three colour photographs reminiscent of a clothing catalogue, with models posing with weapons. Title and strapline on each page reads ‘Teleshop. Guns and weaponry for the life we lead today’. Front cover shows a man emerging from a shed with a watering can and an AK47 assault rifle, priced at £474.99. Other photos show models posing with a Rocket Propelled Grenade Launcher (£999.99) and a 9mm pistol (£177.25). Reverse details Amnesty International’s ‘Teleshop’ arms trade campaign and ways in which people can get involved. Postcard, full colour, 6 x 4 in., ‘copyright 1989 Quality Postcards’, shows a squirrel eating a nut on an area of grass in which miniature and full sized daffodils are in bloom. Minor curling, bending of card in bottom left corner, hand-written message on reverse in black ink. Pendant, sterling silver with black rhodium finish. As new. Also included in lot is one padded envelope (8½ x 12 in.) with customs sticker (not pictured).
... The postcard message reads: ‘Shooting in London for Amnesty. Picked this up in their office. Their latest campaign against the arms trade. Culture jamming. Check out the spoof ‘Amnesty Teleshop’ film on YouTube, too. A shopping channel excerpt. Between ice cream makers and ‘his and her’ bathrobes. A boy with an AK47 shoots up a mannequin live in the studio! Shocking!! Thought you might like your own. Hope you like the pendant. Be careful out there! Love Hal x.’ (Source: Cook & Woodyer 2012, p.233).
The human rights watchdog hopes it shocks movie-goers and prompts them to take part in an anti-gun campaign, said Amnesty spokeswoman Eulette Ewart. ‘It's a parody,’ she said. ‘It's just illustrating that it is easy for unscrupulous arms dealers to get around controls’ (Source: Anon 2006a, np).
Amnesty International's Northern Ireland programme director Patrick Corrigan admitted that some people may find the daring campaign disturbing. ‘The advertisement is highly satirical and shocking and we thought very hard about the most appropriate approach to try and communicate to the general public about this issue,’ he said. ‘But what's truly shocking is that one person dies every minute from armed violence. And there is a scandalous lack of controls to stop weapons getting into the wrong hands’ (Source: Morrison 2006, p.3).
The advert was filmed at Elstree Studios near London, with a top production team of 50 who all worked on it for nothing (Source: Roberts 2006, p.45).
Angus said: ‘Before we got our hands on the rifles, we had to practise by using umbrellas. The end result is kind of camp and chilling at the same time. I got a shiver up my spine when we learned about the child soldiers in countries like Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. We saw pictures of kids wearing army uniforms, holding machine-guns and with grenades strapped to their bodies. It's difficult to digest’ (Source: Roberts 2006, p.45 link).
MPC’s flame artists composited in flashes from the muzzle of the firing gun and increased the bullet holes seen perforating the dummy and the wall behind. They also enhanced the destruction of the set by adding in smoke, steam and falling debris. The windows and glass covering the grandfather clock’s face was shattered. MPC’s FXStudio worked closely with the Art Director to emulate a TV shopping channel designing supers showing the price and availability of the arms as well as icons and titles detailing ‘usps’ and sales info (Source: Anon 2006d, np link).
Mel Herdon was chosen to oversee a radical redesign, the first phase of which is just coming to an end. A former private sector agency strategist, Adil Abrar, was hired three years ago to help define [Amnesty’s] visual identity and communications strategy. The two now work closely together on a range of projects, many of which encompass new media. . . . Straplined 'Teleshopping is so nice because you can buy anything', the video shows two ditzy TV presenters happily showing off the properties of an AK47 as part of a QVC-style shopping programme. The Teleshop video was made into a podcast and there was even a PSP version, which Herdon admits didn't take off because most people just watched it on YouTube. It's ironic, considering that as a political organisation Amnesty is banned from TV advertising, that it should find such an effective medium in internet video. ‘We like this area of work,’ says Herdon. ‘It's not something other charities are doing and we're good at it. Human rights and humour sitting uncomfortably side by side shocks people into doing something, and the web can be a very cheap tool for bringing in lots of new people’ (Source Anon 2007, p.21).
A glossy mail order 'small arms catalogue' from the fictitious Teleshop company - shot by celebrity photographer Sean Gleason - will feature models posing with machine guns and automatic pistols. And an email campaign will surprise internet users with fake special offers for weapons. In addition, a 'roadshow' will tour shopping centres across the country with fake salespeople demonstrating the ease with which an AK47 . . . can be assembled and fired (Source: Morrison 2006, p.3).
Spoofs only work if they mimic their source of inspiration with ruthless precision. This piece from Amnesty International is seeringly relevant. TeleShop, a 'lifestyle sales catalogue', [see photo above] offers a stunning array of lethal arms, beautifully highlighting the fact that the international trade in guns and weaponry is going on around us as nonchalantly as the trade in his-and-hers cashmere jumpers. The art direction is almost too spot-on; a sugar-candy family, living in a home as white as an American smile, show off the latest must-have accessories - stylish pieces such as the classic M16 rifle (perfect for civilian massacre) or the easy-to-use AK-47 (a popular choice for child soldiers). Initially, I thought the concept was light on shock factor, but, as I shared it with others, I realised it had tremendous cut-through and ability to stimulate debate. Given that this is a piece intended to get people to lobby governments for an international arms trade treaty, this has to be good (Source: Clark 2006, np link).
The AK-47 assault rifle's cheapness, reliability and capabilities have made it popular in war-zones across the world. The weapon was invented by Russian Mikhail Kalashnikov at the end of the Second World War. It is believed to be responsible for more deaths than the atomic bombs that fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing 230,000 (Source: Roberts 2006, p.45 link).
This ad could have gone so badly wrong but, like all the best work, it walks that tightrope without falling off (Source: Roalfe 2006, np link).
A parody of a home-shopping channel, it might not be the first time you have seen the premise, but the execution is excellent. The standout moment is the softly spoken Scottish salesman keenly watching a child demonstrate an AK-47 and delivering the inane voiceover: ‘Head, heart, lungs obliterated - fantastic!’ The contrast of the trivial, comforting surroundings magnifies the horror of the arms trade. A charity doing arch satire - I hope this will be effective for it (Source: Bacon 2006, np link).
Moving... truly moving... I felt like crying when I saw that kid blast the mannequin. Imagine what that will do to a human being! (Source: marvingardns 2006, np link).
Where it changes from selling a deadly weapon to dressing gowns was very funny. It's chilling as well especially at the end (Source: TheRainWitch 2008, np link).
Am I the only one who was sitting there with their credit card in their hand a little upset when the Amnesty International thing came up (Source: dykesy30 2011, np link).
I thought this was serious until the end!!! (Source: popupwool 2009, np link).
Anti-Gun Propaganda. Listen up! Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. Take away the gun then it’s knife, then screwdriver, the rubber duck (Source: Luke19644 2009, link).
The commercial makes its point, yet it seems to assume we are so jaded that only the most self-flattering and roundabout way of delivering the message will capture our attention. Instead of showing us real child soldiers at work in Liberia, which should be disturbing enough, the commercial is sidetracked by advertising's aspirations to creative irreverence, its contradictory desire to both trendy and iconoclastic. (Mother is the agency behind it.) Is humour necessary or even appropriate to the subject? Is it likely that a shopping channel viewer who had never thought about the arms trade before could be made suddenly conscious of the laughable aspects of the tele-shopping format and thereby alerted to the carnage these inadequately regulated weapons bring about? As for more sophisticated viewers, when the audience is soaked in images of violence, both actual and fictional, it seems improbable that visual euphemism could succeed in making violence shocking again. The ad's somewhat laboured ironies come across as squeamishness (Source: Poynor nd, np link).
its not an anti gun message – its an anti arms trade message. they’re trying to stop ‘illegal’ arms trading that is escaping justice by using ‘loopholes’ in the law. they’re trynna [sic] stop arms trading where guns get into the hands of unstable political activist groups and corrupt regimes, the sort that use child soldiers etc. They’re not trying (in this campaign at least) to put an end to weapons used for recreational hunting/target shooting and self-defense (Source: pontoonking 2010, np link).
A hard hitting video. . . . Children killing children with AK47s, . . . is not inevitable. Cut the supply of guns and weapons and you may begin to reduce the number of people needlessly killed (Source: WaterAid 2008, np link).
Irreverent comedy made this advert about illegal weapon sales truly memorable by using daytime TV advert pastiches in which gormless presenters discussed the advantages of AK47 machine guns over keep-fit machines (Source: Bussey 2009, np).
So, did it work on me? Despite its innocent first appearance, this is a deeply sinister piece that got me thinking and, just as importantly, talking (Source: Clark 2006, np link).
Amnesty International is planning to capitalise on the success of its 'AK47' spoof cinema ad campaign with a series of stunts. The charity will launch the PR element of its campaign for greater gun control by setting up 'product demonstrations' in UK shopping centres. Actors standing on display stages will pretend to demonstrate weapons in the same way that companies advertise credit cards. They will also hand out information from recent reports claiming half a million people - equivalent to one a minute - die as a result of armed violence every year. The campaign is still in the planning stage, but is to be rolled out across the UK within the next six weeks. Amnesty wants to push the issue to the top of the agenda as it presents a petition for tighter arms controls to the United Nations. The cinema ads showed a fake satellite shopping channel called Teleshop running an infomercial for Kalashnikov automatic rifles. Presenters offered viewers free guns and ammunition, before handing a weapon to a boy, who emptied the magazine into the studio wall. The ads, which ran in the Vue cinema chain, generated considerable publicity for Amnesty's bid to put pressure on arms exporters to tighten controls. They showed how easy it is for weapons to be bought by people across the globe. Amnesty hopes the stunts will generate local and national media coverage, and help raise the profile of its wider 'Protect the Human' campaign. The initiative has been running since last October and has a target of recruiting a million more people to the human rights cause this year (Source: Black 2006, p.12).
An international charity was ‘selling’ AK47 machine guns in a Birmingham shop yesterday, as it launched a campaign for tighter controls on arms trading. A QVC-style teleshop and dummies were set up in a Digbeth High Street store to show how easily weapons can be bought. Amnesty International's campaign includes a two-minute spoof ad for 15 certificate films at Star City's Vue Cinema. Several dummies were assembled in the shop window to illustrate the devastating firepower of the weapons, sold around the globe in countries where the arms trade is barely controlled. Steve Ballinger, Amnesty's arms expert, said: ‘Birmingham has been touched by shootings and gang violence in a major way, but people in Birmingham probably don't realise how this wider issue can affect them.’ Although gun control regulations are pretty good in the UK, elsewhere in the world the arms trade is 'legal' but subject to few or no controls, so there is nothing to stop guns getting into the wrong hands. ‘The problem is in some countries like Uganda or the Congo, guns are as cheap as cigarettes. Whether it be the hands of ten-year-old child soldiers, dictators who use them to oppress people, or for wars, we need to send a message to the UN when they meet to discuss this in June all governments should support the same international standards.’The two-minute ad ... was the brainchild of Adil Abar, from Hall Green. Presenters talk up the reliability of the machine gun, sold at a 'bargain' price of £474. Yesterday the ad was recreated by actor Geoff Cotton. He said: ‘When you pick up one of these guns they're a seductive piece of kit to hold, especially for a boy, but then you see the damage it causes to the dummies which is chilling. This is not a toy and when you think about this being in the arms of ten or 11-year-old 'soldiers' it turns your stomach’ (Source: Anon 2006e, p.5).
Shoppers were shocked to see a new shop selling AK47 guns had opened in Cardiff - but it was all an educational spoof. The CBAT art shop in Bute Street, Cardiff, was handed over to a roadshow teaching people about the danger of guns on our streets yesterday. Actor Geoff Cotton, whose character Henri Durand was shot dead in the BBC drama Spooks, has backed a crackdown on the gun trade and was at the event to promote a petition to tighten up on gun trafficking. He has also starred in a spoof ad produced by charity Amnesty International, which has been shown in cinemas for the past few weeks. Speaking at the roadshow, Geoff said: 'It is ironic that Henri Durand was killed by an AK47, but it has helped me to understand more about gun crime. 'I totally support the campaign to stop gun sales and think that the fade ad delivers a hard-hitting message.' The educational cinema advert and live roadshow both feature Cotton posing as a spoof television gun salesman boasting that an AK47 can blow off heads and limbs while blowing holes through someone's body. He claims that they can be fired by children and are easily available and affordable worldwide because of loopholes in laws. Amnesty International Wales director Eleanor White said: 'Some people might find our advert disturbing. 'But what is truly shocking is that one person dies every minute from armed violence. 'There is a scandalous lack of controls to stop weapons getting into the wrong hands.' Amnesty International has now started a petition urging top politicians to discuss the tightening of controls of the international arms trade. They are aiming to get one million people to lend support to their campaign by texting their name and the word 'arms' to 84118. The charity aims to present their petition to the United Nations and lobby for an arms trade treaty in June. Ex-Spooks star to feature in spoof ad: Film fans at Vue Cinema in the Millennium Plaza, Cardiff, are to see a special spoof advert put together by charity Amnesty International. Geoff Cotton stars as a TV host from a sales channel trying to sell AK47 guns. In the tongue-in-cheek advert that will run before films screened at the cinema chain throughout March, Geoff says that the gun, veteran of 75 wars, which can be easily used by children, is freely available at a bargain price (Source: Rogers 2006, p.16 link).
In some countries Amnesty International has been informed that guns are as easy to buy as cigarettes. The organisation claims national arms controls are riddled with loopholes allowing weapons to be sold to conflict zones and countries which repress and torture their people. A 2005 Amnesty International report followed shipments of over 240 tonnes of weapons, including millions of rounds of Kalashnikov ammunition, from eastern Europe to war-torn countries in Africa. Amnesty traced the supply of weapons and ammunition to the governments of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda and their subsequent distribution to armed groups and militia suspected of involvement in massacres, mutilation and mass rapes of civilians. Worryingly, three of the companies involved in these arms deliveries operated from Britain. British arms brokers are easily able to evade lax controls, simply by stepping outside the country to conduct their deals, Amnesty claims. Procedures are also woefully inadequate at monitoring how arms exports are used. This prompted government minister Ian Pearson to concede that Britain had little knowledge or control over where its arms exports end up. Amnesty International is calling for an international Arms Trade Treaty which would create legally binding arms controls and ensure that all governments regulate arms sales to the same basic international standards. Mr Corrigan urged people to join the petition immediately. ‘People here can do something about this,’ he said. ‘Just by texting us their name, they can join a global petition that we will present to the UN in June, calling for an Arms Trade Treaty to keep guns out of the wrong hands. And by joining Amnesty in Northern Ireland they can help us stop the human rights abuses that are happening every day around the world.’ Over the coming months, Amnesty International will give people new and different ways to stand up for humanity and human rights through www.protectthehuman.com (Source: Morrison 2006, p.3).
The UK DVD release of Lord of War includes, prior to the film, an advert for Amnesty International, showing the AK-47 being sold on a shopping channel of the style popular on cable networks (Source: Wikipedia nd, link: the opening credits for Lord of War are in store here).
I was struck this week by the impact of a simple advert that, coupled with the film it was preceeding, has brought about quite a bit of contraversy and talk with my mates, here and particularly in the USA. ... And the film was Lord of War. I just thought it was good to see two mediums – Amnesty International and Hollywood – complimenting one another in such a powerful way (I’m sure AI gained prestige and LoW increased in sales)… It just struck me as a possible alternative to conferences… mass appeal thru movies coupled with awareness and action available thru related groups (Source: DAMNFLANDRZ 2006, np link).
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'Video embedded with permission of Amnesty International. Compiled by Daisy Livingston, edited by Ian Cook (last updated July 2011).