Pennsylvania Game Commission's GoHuntPA radio commercial is offensive
In mid-May, along with about 40 members of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association, I had a sneak preview of the Pennsylvania Game Commission's new GoHuntPA hunter-recruitment initiative. The program is slated to go live on Sept. 24.
The explanation of the program's purpose and strategy went smoothly and was well received by the group of outdoor communicators initially. However, then a member of Top Flight Media (the ad agency that designed the program) played a radio spot that is supposed to air in the fall. Hands flew up and a hot discussion ensued.
In the 30-second radio commercial, a hip-sounding young man declares, "Play your 'man-card' – buy a hunting license," or something to that effect. Numerous writers in the room expressed their displeasure with the use of that phrase to advertise hunting. Some thought that it excluded women from the hunting equation, while others found it offensive.
Top Flight creative director Frank Arendt defended the phrase and said that it played well to some of their test audiences. Nevertheless, that did not quell the wave of criticism. It certainly didn't "play well" for our audience.
The phrase, "Play your man-card," burned my ears, too. Although it took me awhile to decide exactly why it bothered me, finally it hit me. The ad is essentially saying, "Be a man – go out and shoot stuff."
The shooting and killing of game animals is part of hunting – no doubt about that. However, it is not the main reason why anyone who I respect participates in the sport. If we as sportsmen and sportswomen have to stoop to that level of advertising – to attract that crowd (people who just want to shoot stuff) – then hunters have more problems than a perception of too few deer.
For the most part, Top Flight Media appears to be creating a sound, well-thought-out and expertly produced campaign. It would be a shame to see that marred by one 30-second radio commercial.
We have a little less than four months until the GoHuntPA campaign is completely unveiled. I sincerely hope that the "powers-that-be" decide to pull or alter this ad. One writer suggested a simple one-word fix – "Play your wild card." No one offended, hunting not demeaned – problem solved.