Snapchat reportedly warned a gun safety charity that it might run NRA (National Rifle Association) ads on the charity’s anti-gun violence awareness campaign for National Gun Violence Awareness Day – if it did not pay Snapchat for advertising.
According to a Mic report, emails provided by a source close to the exchange from early 2016 show Snapchat’s head of political sales Rob Saliterman issue the warning to the Everytown for Gun Safety charity.
Everytown reached out to Snapchat about advertising on the platform for its #WearOrange event on National Gun Awareness Day. In response, Saliterman quoted costs of at least $150,000 to enable Snapchat users to participate in the even using custom filters and lenses.
In the meantime, Snapchat’s editorial team reached out to Everytown about a partnership surrounding the event. This partnership was offered for free and would have meant the event being featured as a Live Story – leaving Everytown no need to pay for Snapchat’s advertising.
Saliterman did not learn of the development until May, because editorial and advertising sections tend to operate separately, and decided to get back in touch with Everytown.
In an email, Saliterman wrote: "I would urgently like to speak with you about advertising opportunities within the story, as there will be three ad slots. We are also talking to the NRA about running ads within the story."
This seemingly thinly veiled threat, if taken literally, meant that if Everytown failed to pay up for advertising, instead partnering the editorial department, Snapchat’s ad team would likely have sold its ad slots to the NRA – who are Everytown’s mortal enemies.
To this, Everytown expressed its concerns about the possibility but also made it clear that it could not afford to pay the advertising costs.
"That's really unfortunate news on your budget, as Snapchat reaches 41 per cent of 18-34 year olds in the US on a daily basis and I don't believe there's a more efficient way to reach that audience," Saliterman went on to say in his final email to the charity. "To be clear, the story has the potential to be bought by any advertiser, including the NRA, which will enable the advertiser to run three 10-sec video ads within the story. This is analogous to how any advertiser could buy advertising in a TV news program about violence. The advertising will not impact the editorial content within the story as our teams are independent."
In the end, Everytown refused both Snapchat’s editorial partnership and its paid advertising services – with Snapchat going on to run a Live Story called ‘Guns in America’ without Everytown’s participation.