Posted by: Mark | October 28, 2008

The BackUp: Marketing a Tragedy

I ran across this novel home accessory through a twitter post today. It’s called the Back-Up. The youtube commercial speaks for itself.

This is ludicrous yet extremely comical. Everyone hides things under their beds. My wife and I used to store our wedding photos there. I remember as a kid finding a baseball bat there that my dad kept. But now this takes it to a new level. Don’t just hide your shotgun, but have it on a bedside rack so that you can have easy access to it.

As if the absurdity of the invention wasn’t enough, you have to also consider a recent post that the BackUp sponsored on You can read the whole thing here, but I’m going to excerpt it a bit so you may not need to.

“Jennifer Hudson’s mother and brother were gunned down in their home Friday. Could an invaluable device have saved their lives? It’s called The BackUp and it is a bedside shotgun rack…”

“Whether it is someone known or a stranger entering the home, too many people in this country are paying with their lives during these home invasions. The Hudson family is just one of far too many Americans gunned down in their own home.

What can be done? Law enforcement and the government aren’t solving the problem. So law-abiding citizens are now forced to take their safety, security, and life into their own hands.

Shotguns are often weapons of choice at home because of their deterrent effect on assailants, their close-range stopping power, their affordability and their reduced risk of injury to innocent others from stray shot. But the problem is storing them in a place where you don’t have to turn your back on your assailant. Propped in the corner or under the bed takes valuable time to get to, and could cost you your life.

But now there is a solution. The BackUp makes them easily accessible during a time of need. Racked between the mattresses, The BackUp offers immediate access to the homeowner’s shotgun: in the hands, cocked and ready to defend in 2 seconds.”

I know that I am a moralist, and I look around the world and often get upset when I see things that I find morally questionable, but this one pushes way over the edge as far as I am concerned. It takes advantage of an unfortunate tragedy–the murder of Jennifer Hudson’s family–and uses it as a case-study for why people need to buy it’s $39.95 bedside gun rack.

As your typical liberal, my feelings on guns are pretty critical. I don’t see why people need guns besides for hunting, and you certainly don’t need to access a shotgun from your bed to hunt. In the issue of self-defense, which the BackUp clearly caters to, I think most cases for self-defense are overstated, and perpetrators resort to violence when they themselves are scared or uncertain. Having a weapon of self-defense only adds to the fear and uncertainty of the perpetrator rather than calm them down, and encourage them to just rob you and get on with things. If it was up to me, I’d rather guys break into my house and rob me blind, but spare my life, then come in and have things turn into a shooting war. Most burglars are not sadistically on the prowl for rape victims, and if you are statistically unlucky enough to fall into the hands of one of these individuals, it is a horrible tragedy. However, it’s also an unlikely tragedy, just like if I was to get attacked by a shark. (see previous post.)

Therefore, I think the BackUp is just a gimmicky marketing scam to further scare people into thinking they need a loaded shotgun in their hands in under 2 seconds.

But my thoughts on the product aside, I think what is really morally reprehensible about this is how they have tried to capitalize on Jennifer Hudson’s tragedy to sell more products. Their post states that there are 8,000 burglaries a day in the United States, and yet they cite a very particular and specific burglary and killing 3 times. Obviously the Hudson tragedy is all over the internet, and by tagging Jennifer Hudson in this post, the company is trying to use the media attention that is spotlighted on these murders to sell more products, and I am sure it is working. I’m sure that tons of worried shotgun owners are getting startled into buying the BackUp, and a small start-up company will congratulate themselves over the next few weeks for creatively selling more products and increasing revenue during an economic downturn. Wahoo! Way to go guys!
In a nutshell, it’s sad. It’s remarkable how shameless some companies will be just to sell us crap that we don’t need.


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