Snapchat, Snap

As we’re steadily approaching Snap Inc’s IPO, details about the company including its innovation, culture, and finances are surfacing on the interwebs. Yesterday, we were greeted with what could’ve been the company’s first hardware product and now we are getting a look at their aggressive marketing and sales tactics. And tomorrow is the day when Snap’s public offering goes live.

The allegation stem from the email conversation between a Snapchat executive and Everytown for Gun Safety, a non-profit devoted to putting an end to gun violence and fatalities. It depicts how the former tried to strong-arm the latter to purchase their hefty six-digit ad package in opposition to the free content partnership they were being offered. After some retaliation, the ads executive went on to warn the non-profit that if they won’t buy the ad slots, then the NRA (National Rifle Association) surely would.

First reported by Mic, in an email exchange, Rob Saliterman, Snapchat’s head of political sales, approached Everytown with an advert opportunity that would appear in their upcoming gun violence awareness “live story” on the platform. He quoted them a massive sum of $150,000 for the custom filter and lenses ad campaign for the event. But, at the time, he was unaware that Snapchat News was also approaching the non-profit to partner with and feature them in the said live story.

This is, however, the point when you’d like to pay attention to understand Snapchat’s unfavorable sales tactics. When Saliterman came to know about the lead being followed by another division within the company, he shot back an email to Everytown reading:

I just learned our News Team is doing a Live Story on National Gun Violence Awareness Day. 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.

Since Everytown was now being offered an editorial partnership and a free-of-cost spot in the live story, they no longer wanted to shell out bucks for the same. So, a rep from the non-profit organization responded saying they couldn’t afford the advertising budget. It was also concerned about the live stories, featuring civilians who’ve lost their lives to gun violence and a call for reforms, being attacked by pro-gun advertising from NRA.

To this, Saliterman replied with an explanation of their advertising model, which he says is similar to TV adverts where anyone has the potential to buy out any spot in between the editorial content. Thus, he added that the NRA, who had previously advertised with them in 2015, could end up buying one or a string of ad slots. His email read,

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.

Thus, caught amid this internal political game, Everytown for Gun Safety had to forego the opportunity of being featured in Snapchat’s gun awareness live story. And it also didn’t accept the advertising proposal put forth by the executive. The said situation is presently up on display as this is a grim situation for the company, but there can be differentiated opinions.

It can be seen as the ad executive trying to intimate the non-profit of the possibility of NRA running their ad during the gun awareness campaign, which is a definite possibility. It would have come as a grave shock for Everytown if they themselves had discovered an NRA ad running in between their campaign. So, prevention is better than cure, but the sales team surely went a step too far in their attempt to close another deal — which is the reality behind media salespeople.

Also, a Snapchat spokesperson tells Mashable that the situation arose because of the firewall that exists between the editorial and sales teams. The former just works on the content while the latter finds prospective ad buyers for the said story. Thus, they kind of work in sync but still aloof of what the other is planning, which is the prime reason for this confusion.

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