Christchurch business sticks to its guns over billboard claim

The Advertising Standards Authority told Gun City to remove this billboard on Cranford St by...
The Advertising Standards Authority told Gun City to remove this billboard on Cranford St by March 25 but it was still in place. PHOTO: DYLAN SMITS
A Christchurch arms and hunting business appears to be sticking to its guns, defying an Advertising Standards Authority demand to remove a misleading billboard.

Gun City was ordered to remove the billboard on the back of a ute near its Cranford St, Redwood, superstore after a complaint was made to the ASA, arguing the business could not justifiably describe itself as the “world’s largest gun shop”.

The ASA told Gun City to stop the advertisement and confirm compliance on March 25 – but as of Monday, April 15, the billboard was still in place.

The “world’s largest gun store” claim is also still used on Gun City’s website.

Gun City management was contacted for comment but did not respond.

The ASA ruling stated Gun City defended its claim based on “years of research”, which included visiting “any shop which we believe may come close to ours”.

Gun City said in the ASA ruling it was not claiming to be the biggest shop in the world that sells guns, but rather the largest gun shop based on the area dedicated to the sale, display and storage of guns for retail sale.

“We measure the size of the footage in wall space, rack space, counter space and floor space dedicated to the sale of shotguns and rifles,” Gun City’s ASA response claimed.

“I have personally travelled to 64 countries and visited the large gun shops in these countries.

"As I write this I am travelling back from the largest European gun show, ‘IWA’, in Germany and visited large shops in Germany, Denmark and Sweden.

“The large shops in the USA sell guns and many other products, even boats, so they are larger.

"We correctly state that we are the largest gun shop based on the area dedicated to the sale, display and storage of guns for retail sale.”

The authority said a more robust and quantifiable measurement, such as comparative retail floor space and the number of products for sale, was required for an absolute claim like being the “world’s largest gun shop”.

Told Gun City’s billboard was still in place, ASA chief executive Hilary Souter said it would follow up.

“There is no specific  timeframe for compliance because this can differ from medium to medium – for example removing a TV ad across a media schedule versus deleting a digital post,” she said. 

“However, we do expect advertisers to take steps to comply as soon as possible.”

By Shannon Pitman, Open Justice multimedia journalist, and Star News