The Ku Klux Klan, based in Pulaski, Tenn., has retained the international public relations firm Clayton+Daye to educate Americans about the good the organization does and the fun its members have. “There’s a perception among Americans that the KKK is all about lynchings and scrawling swastikas on cars,” says John Arnold, a past grand master of the 150-year-old organization. “Those things are a big part of it, yes. But the group is so much more than that. We have picnics, help people paint houses and fences—in short, we help build community. Of course, it’s community for white people, but it’s community nonetheless.”
In the ad campaign, which will air on TV and radio and have an online component beginning this spring, Klan members and their families will be shown as ordinary Americans who care about each other and the places they live. “What a lot of people don’t get about the Klan and its members is it’s cross-burnings and other activities are motivated by a love of God and America,” says Nigel Ohlsson, Clayton+Daye’s campaign creative director. ‘It’s been especially helpful to me, as someone who came into this unfamiliar with the inner workings of the organization, to see with fresh eyes what it’s really all about. What I learned is, it’s really about community and doing good things for it.”
Ohlsson, based in London, said it’s been eye-opening to see how much Klan members care about other people as long as they’re not black or Jewish or another despised minority. “Yes, there’s that whole bigotry thing, but when you peel that away, what you have are ordinary people living ordinary lives who really care about others,” he says. “If it weren’t for the Jews or blacks or the others who are making the American bloodline impure, the men and women who make up the Klan would not be burning crosses or dragging minorities from the backs of cars; instead, they would be helping granny cross the street or making sure the town park has bulbs in its light fixtures.”
The first TV ad scheduled for airing depicts John Smith, a friendly looking man in his thirties, as he drives around in his pickup truck collecting trash from the side of a country road. “I do this because I care about where I live,” Smith says in the voiceover. “I want my family to be proud of their community. That’s why I take the time to look for trash in our community and get rid of it. If you do nothing, trash will multiply and become a blight on our way of life. Trash is not American. When my kids grow up, I want them to be able to come down this same road that I did as a kid and look on it with pride, because it’s not blighted by trash.”
Another spot will follow a busy mom as she gives her husband fresh-baked cookies before he goes out. “Make sure you give these to all the guys,” she says. “You’re the best,” he replies as he takes the cookies and gives her a kiss. “We’ll be needing a little snack; it’s going to be a long night.”
Both spots end with the tag line, “The Klan: It’s you, It’s me, It’s America the Free.”
Ohlsson says people can buy T-shirts and mugs that reinforce the theme. “It’s a 360-degree campaign,” he says, “so you can watch the TV commercial, see a banner ad on the Internet, and drink coffee out of your mug. You’ll even be able to get the kids a coloring book and crayons—without the brown crayon, of course. Hah-hah. In a year, we think, perceptions will change, and the Klan will become much more accepted part of America.”
This is a work of satire. It is fictional news article not meant to be taken seriously. Photos (some modified): xi (Creative Commons). Not necessarily an endorsed use of images.
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