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The Power of the Wristband: Controversial Campaigning

In the world news recently, you may have heard of the case of Abdirhman Abdi and the police officer charged for manslaughter of the man in question. The Ottawa police officers have been purchasing wristbands expressing solidarity with the officer accused. These wristbands bear the words “United we stand, divided we fall” with the number 1998; which is the accused constable Daniel Montsions badge number.

Although an extremely controversial story, this is a notable example of how a small yet powerful act of a wristband can get the conversations started.

“Make a start, even if you have a controversial idea!”


High Demand Wrist-Wear

The black and blue wristbands, which support the Ottawa officer have been in extreme high demand. What started as a small awareness campaign has now become a huge campaign, which has caused for more of the controversial police solidarity bracelets to be produced and ordered.
This debateable series of events has brought some bitterness surrounding the initial sale of 1,200 wristbands with the inscription “United we stand, divided we fall”. The wristbands reached their highest peak when police officers, at the beginning of April were banned from wearing them with their uniform on, and on duty. The bands were on sale from the end of March, whereas the public didn’t become aware of the wristband campaign until the following Wednesday; the same day as the first scheduled court appearance.

Confrontational Campaign

Some of the officers continued to sell the wristbands across all police stations in the city. Police officers in investigative units, the union, and in prison facilities also continued to distribute and sell the controversial bands. More bands have been ordered, but it’s not known exactly how many.

While the wristbands were not publicly advertised, the campaign was and is no secret, and in fact, police officers and officials were fully aware of the production and distribution of the wristbands. Even though no marketing campaign followed the wristbands, the controversy and bands themselves were enough to spur on the conversation.

Prior to media backlash from the wristbands, there was no dispute and officers and other law enforcers did not stop the wearing of wristbands; although after controversy and media coverage, the decision was a cautious one.

Ottowa police leaders are asking fellow officers who are wearing the wristbands to think about the message it may be sending out to any communities.

Controversy through Marketing

Controversy does one of two things; makes a story more interesting, but can also generate discomfort amongst the other opinionated group. But, either way, people are talking about it. So, is controversy an encouraging conversation?

This story has certainly caused controversy, and in doing so through the act of wearing the simply yet effective wristband just shows the influence they hold.

In this modern age, there are hundreds and thousands of media stories and marketing campaigns that we engage with every day, but the storied we remember must catch our attention. Through provoking controversy and deliberately violating our expectations, do shock marketing tactics spark interest, and bring traffic to a campaign?

Fighting Wristbands with Wristbands

While some are saying, the wristbands are offensive, others are saying there is no malicious intent behind them and it is simply support of their work force. An Ottawa businessman is now fighting wristbands with… even more wristbands, and has ordered 500 of the emblazoned with Abdirahman Abdi’s name, along with the white star of the Somalian flag.

This is to show solidarity to the family of the killed, along with support of his nationality. Greg Birch, a former fire fighter has launched his new initiative after the backlash of the police wristbands, and says:” I thought it was fairly outrageous; for Abdi’s family to be dealing with everything they face, and now these police bracelets, ”It seemed almost like a slap in the face to these folks, to my mind, anyway.”

Various charity fundraising wristbands

Previously, the same police officers have sported coloured wristband without any controversy or incident for several causes, such as the ‘Do it for Daron’ Campaign, PTSD Campaigns, as well as a child of a fellow officer fighting leukaemia and to honour a constable who was killed on the front line.

What is your opinion on Controversial marketing?

This story is one which shows the power that a silicone wristband is a small yet powerful marketing tool. Whether controversial or not, the wristband can cause conversation and get people supporting your cause. If you’re interested in a wristband to support your cause, we would love to for you to get in touch to discuss the perfect choice for you.