Most people think either of "gigantic guns" or "gigantic assholes," but that's not what we're here to talk about right now. And really, the guns aren't even what Open Carry Texas wants you to be talking about either. Because that's not the prize they're after. (They've already got plenty, as it is.)
What Open Carry Texas is after is the ability to leverage national, multibillion dollar brands and force them to do the one thing they hate doing more than anything in the world: get mixed up in controversial national politics.
I explained this m.o. in a series of tweets that Matt Shipman (@ShipLives on Twitter) was kind enough to Storify for me. Looking at them all together, it reads a little bit like a slide presentation for a brand managers' and corporate PR professionals' conference.
Come have a look at what I mean, below the fold.
While it's true that all the "fun" in these events for Open Carry Texas is in bringing their toys out to play, they could be doing that anywhere. And if the goal were simply to do it in public, they could do it easily enough on any sidewalk in town.
In other words, to the manager (and other witnesses) on site, the main focus of the event appears to be the guns themselves. For everyone else viewing the event only through photos distributed online, the main focus of the event is the brand. "Look who's letting us do this! Look who's on our side! Soon you'll see us in your location!"
Think about it. How many photos did you see of Open Carry Texas activists in that Chipotle? And how many photos did you see of them actually spending money there, and eating burritos? It's not as though using Instagram to tweet out photos of what you're eating is considered socially unacceptable! For a bunch of people who claim they're just out doing what regular people do, and bringing their guns along, their expeditions sure are long on photographic evidence of (someone else's) brand identity and short on photos of sales. Or long on bling, short on cha-ching, if you prefer.
Oh, lookee here. He bought himself a drink. Thanks, big spender!
Upscale. Downscale. It doesn't matter. All that matters is that you've spent enough money on branding that people will recognize you in the pictures, and Open Carry Texas can score points off of all that money you spent, just by having their photos taken at your place.
A photo on the inside says you've agreed to let them in. And that reads not just as a win but as an endorsement. Nothing's better for them than a brand identity that's so recognizable that even candid shots give their location away. Thanks for putting all that money into store layouts and color schemes, guys!
And in the hospitality industry, it's bad business not to be friendly. But if this isn't supposed to represent an endorsement, who OKed this photo with staff?
Again, don't get too hung up on the guns. I imagine most store managers know pretty well what they'd do if an "Impeach Obama" demonstration showed up at the door, wanting to march through the aisles with their signs and take pictures of themselves under the logo. Or with the staff. That wouldn't likely present a problem. The answer would simply be no, even if they didn't have the legal chops to be able to put a finger on exactly why they felt entitled to say no.
But with guns, getting to that easy answer is apparently much more difficult. It shouldn't be. Brand managers need to keep their eye on the ball. Even the Open Carry Texas activists aren't chiefly focused on the guns, so there's no reason for you to be. Don't bother thinking about gun policy. Think about protecting your brand.