Jennifer Hudson, bedside gun rack
Home Back-Up Protection Web site

Gun Rack Manufacturer Uses Hudson Family Deaths to Push Product

October 30, 2008 03:27 PM
by Lindsey Chapman
A Minnesota gun rack manufacturer has viewed the murders of singer Jennifer Hudson’s family members as a marketing opportunity.

In Poor Taste?

A producer of bedside shotgun racks in Minnesota has made an example of Jennifer Hudson’s family members to help promote his product.

A recent news release from the Home Back-Up Protection company asks, “Could a Bedside Shotgun Rack Have Saved Jennifer Hudson’s Family from Tragic Death?” Bedside gun racks fit between the mattress and box spring of a person’s bed.

Hudson’s mother, Darnell Donerson, and her brother, Jason, were found murdered in a Chicago home on Oct. 24. The body of Hudson’s nephew Julian King was found days later.

A. John Peters, president of Home Back-Up Protection, said he’s not trying to make a painful example of Hudson’s family. “I really feel sorry for these people,” Peters stated in a Chicago Tribune article. “I just don’t want this to happen to someone else. Sometimes I think people need to be hit between the eyes.”

When asked whether he thought the ad mentioning Hudson’s family could be offensive, Peters said, “Just having a gun rack offends a lot of people,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

Related Topic: Capitalizing on tragedy

The actions the public takes after unfortunate events can evoke several different responses. Regarding Peters’ marketing idea, a blogger on Gawker wrote, “Every time—every time—a horrible tragedy befalls a famous person, some of our nation’s most clueless PR practitioners use it as a news peg for some unfortunate client.”

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks brought out email spammers looking to use the situation in a different way. Some urged people to stop watching the news and join pornographic Web sites. Others urged people to send donations to help victims (some were legitimate and others weren’t), and even more emails were sent offering commemorative mementos of the day.
“Spam is never an appropriate vehicle for anyone to use for any purpose,” Ken Lucke, a business owner and anti-spammer, told Wired. “It is using the resources of others disproportionately for your own purposes, good, bad or indifferent, and is therefore basically theft.”

The death of a celebrity is another occurrence that causes some people to question a person’s motives. In an article about the death of actor Heath Ledger, ABC News wondered, “[W]hat’s the deal with grieving for someone you don’t know?”

“People want to be close to major events, no matter how tragic,” Stuart Fischoff, senior editor of the Journal of Media Psychology, explained. “They want to feel like they are participating. They want to create that memory of ‘I was there when.’”

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