13 Jun Has Marketing Gone Too Far with Bulletproof Blankets for Schools?
Bulletproof blankets for school children? It’s a sad, sad reality we’re in that this is even a thought. Recently, Reynolds High School near Portland, Oregon, became the 74th school shooting since the December 2012 tragic incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. There are simply no words for this.
ProTecht, a protective products company, has built a protective blanket that teachers and children can use in states of emergencies. Two prime examples they’re using in their marketing campaigns are schools shootings and natural disasters such as tornados.
Steve Walker, a podiatrist, initially designed the product after last year’s tornado disaster in Moore, Oklahoma (Walker’s home state). He partnered with a patient, Stan Schone who developed a 5/16-inch (thick?) pad out of U.S. Military grade materials that guard against blunt-force trauma. Since teaming up with ProTecht to build and manufacture the blanket, the marketing campaign has shifted its focus towards school-shootings.
From the company’s website, the “Bodyguard™ blanket was developed and tested to specifically protect our children and teachers in the event of a school shooting.” The company urges administrators to consider the blanket as a part of a school’s lockdown policy. But at $1,000 a pop are the blankets really a viable option? And is this really in the best interest of the target audience or is it a misdirected marketing ploy?
The decision to focus the marketing of the product on the heart-wrenching details of school shootings seems tactless. A lot of media coverage has called them out for profiteering; others have called for the need to focus on the root cause, not the symptom.
The marketing campaign itself isn’t anything fancy. They have a few videos on their website and while they weren’t created with a monster budget they’re effective. They had me in tears, especially as a mom with a young child of my own that will one day head off to school. I don’t believe the company is trying to be insensitive – it’s a tough subject and they have a product that could help save lives. But, there has to be a better way to market the product than playing off people’s fears and creating a reputation for being opportunistic.
So what do you think about marketing a blanket to protect children from school shootings or natural disasters? What advice would you give ProTecht for future marketing campaigns?