In one poster, there are several rows of gray AK-47s spreading out across a black backdrop. The twisted, wallpaper-like design is overlaid a bright orange message that reads, “This is not okay.” In another, a giant NRA logo is crossed out, and there’s an all-caps message below it: “OUR LIVES AREN’T FOR SALE.”
They’re all part of a dozen free-to-download offerings from CREDO Mobile, a small national cellular carrier that’s part of a family of businesses (there’s also a CREDO long-distance service, and CREDO credit card) that all promise to commit a portion of profits to progressive causes.
In this case, the company is offering these signs for use at the March For Our Lives rally for gun control reform in Washington, D.C. (and around the country) on March 24. But it’s just one way that CREDO has developed to power direct action protests.
Over the last 30 years, the company has given more than $85 million to socially minded organizations. Decisions about how to spend that money are largely driven by CREDO Action, a 5-million-member political action network for both customers and allies. The network convenes a monthly process where its members nominate several organizations that may be in need; other members then vote to determine how distributions are apportioned.
Since the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the company has used a variety of tactics to renew the push for gun control. “[W]e have engaged more than 400,000 progressive activists in the fight for gun control, through online campaigns calling on Congress to ban assault weapons, urging the Senate to block the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, demanding the NRA’s corporate sponsors to break ties with the NRA, and pressuring the Florida Legislature to pass meaningful gun reforms,” writes CREDO CEO Ray Morris in an email to Fast Company.
CREDO has a history of marshaling its forces in this way. After the Las Vegas shooting in 2017, in which 58 people were killed and more than 850 injured, it worked with a fleet of other organizers to petition for the much same thing. After the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting five years earlier, it tapped its base to encourage another march at the NRA’s Washington, D.C., headquarters.
Morris estimates that the group has also donated over $3 million overall to organizations working in their own ways against gun violence. That includes Moms Demand Action, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the Brady Campaign, and Amnesty International. “Many of the organizations we fund do important, on-the-ground organizing and activism,” he adds. “That’s why we donate to our progressive grantees monthly: to ensure these groups leading the fights on the ground get the money when it counts.”
Making professional looking signs available to everyone who wants them is just another part of that. “We aren’t afraid to say what needs to be said,” says Morris, “and we’ve long sought to have our imagery reflect our strength and our stance.” In this case, each sign has the CREDO name prominently displayed upon it too. Such marches are prime product placement opportunities, which ultimately may drive more change. As Morris puts it: “We were founded to do the activism and to give people ways to fuel progressive change with everyday purchases. It’s not an afterthought or something we think will reflect well on our brand, it’s the other way around.”