How the Brady Campaign Uses Anger to Inspire Action

This Grand Control from the Brady Campaign features a moving 4-page letter written and signed by Jim Brady, asking for help to close the gun show loophole. Brady's copy is highly engaging and effectively uses the copy driver of Anger to encourage the reader to take action.

Jim Brady, the former press secretary to Ronald Reagan, died Aug. 4, 33 years after he was shot in an attempted assassination of the president.

Having suffered a severe brain injury, no one would have blamed Jim and his wife Sarah if they had chosen to live out of the rest of their lives in quiet comfort. But instead, they worked tirelessly for gun reform. They founded the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, whose major achievement was to pass The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act requiring federal background checks on gun purchases.

Recently, a direct mail appeal came across my desk from the Brady Campaign. The full-color envelope stood out on my desk, featuring an image of a candlelight vigil. Contained within, the 2-page letter was signed by the Brady Campaign’s President Dan Gross and featured a story about the 2014 Santa Barbara shootings. The mailing also included a full-color lift note from Sandy Phillips, mother of one of the victims from the 2012 Aurora, Col. movie theater shooting.

However, while this piece is a good effort, I feel that nothing can compare to the powerful, dramatic, and honest words of Jim Brady himself in the long time Grand Control mailing featured in “The Secrets of Emotional Hot-Button Copywriting.”

The copy driver is anger. Here are some passages:

“Dear Friend:

“I’m sitting here in my wheelchair today, trying to control my anger, but without much success.

“More than thirty years after the assassination attempt on President Reagan left me confined to a wheelchair, dozens of other lives have been affected by other catastrophic and unnecessary shootings in Aurora, Colorado and Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

“And still our leaders do nothing to close the legal loopholes …

This personal, heartfelt 4-page letter also is well designed with short sentences, indented paragraphs, and underlines to help the reader along and drive them to take action by signing a petition and making a donation.

Peggy Hatch is a senior advisor at NAPCO Media. A direct mail copywriter, she co-founded Who’s Mailing What! with her husband Denny Hatch. Her previous position at NAPCO Media was Group President for the Target Marketing Group.

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