25 April 2007
Got an email yesterday from Guns and Ammo magazine pitching something called “Subscriptions for Soldiers”. The subject line reads
Valued Subscriber, the troops need your support.
Then after some flagwaving and heart-string tugging, a link is provided to an online sales page where I can donate money to pay for subscriptions:
For only $10 you can help us shoulder the cost of sending a gift subscription to active service members serving at home and around the world. We have gathered thousands of requests for magazine subscriptions from our servicemen and women and now we need your help!
… We currently have 22676 service member requests …
…Your gift subscription will be given anonymously. Due to privacy and security concerns, Primedia will not release your name and address to the recipient of this gift and will also not release the recipient’s name and location to you or anyone else.
First off, I’m not a subscriber. Never have been. That makes this feel a lot like spam. At very least, it gave me a bad first impression. I’ve emailed someone at the magazine for comment on that.
Second, I feel this a cynical use of patriotic sentiment and concern for our service members:
… an exciting new program that gives you a chance to personally show the hardworking men and women in America's armed forces how much you truly appreciate their sacrifice … You get to show Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines how much you care.
Reminds me of the door-to-door magazine subscription rackets claiming to help “inner city youth avoid drugs” or “deserving kids earn college scholarships”. How could you be against those noble goals?
Though it presents like a scam, the program is operated by Primedia, the magazine’s parent company. There’s also a link to the program from Guns & Ammo‘s webpage. Large scale donors are identified here and include quite a number of gun manufacturers. I don’t know what that tells us. Perhaps they’re advertisers interested in growing the reader base?
So, this is certainly good for Primedia, probably for some in uniform, but perhaps not the best way to show your support of the troops.
If this is something you feel good about, please go donate. I’m a bit put-off, myself.
If this is, in fact, a great program for the troops, how could Primedia have handled publicity so it wouldn’t seem so slimy? Or do you think I’m overreacting here?
Added 12:45pm 4/25
Someone from new G&A owners InterMedia Outdoor, Inc. kindly replied to my email inquiry and confirmed the legitimacy of the program and apologized if the email to me “was in error”, pointing me to the opt-out function.