People for the Ethical Treatment of Advertising

17 Feb

The latest advertising campaign for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is a classic case of the idea drowning out the message.

In this love-it-or-loathe-it TV spot, a woman in a neck-brace walks gingerly home while a voice over tells us she suffers from a case of BWVAKTBOOM – Boyfriend Went Vegan And Knocked The Bottom Out Of Me. Watch the video and then let’s talk…


If you’re in the mood for more advertising hijinks, there is an associated website with tips on how to manage all this new-found virilty.

Meanwhile, the Internet is rife with opinions, supporters and haters.

Does anyone believe that becoming a vegan turns you into a coke-fuelled porn star in the sack? Of course not, but sexual guffaws is a strategic direction PETA has been steering down of late.

The critics are pounding PETA for a perceived cavalier attitude towards the physical abuse of women, and the proponents want everyone to just freakin’ lighten up.

They both miss the point here. The problem is that the campaign won’t have any impact on peoples’ attitudes towards animals.

It is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury. Signifying nothing.



14 Responses to “People for the Ethical Treatment of Advertising”

  1. lexieludlowgroup February 17, 2012 at 7:25 am #

    It’s incredible how many of PETA’s advertising campaigns are based on creating controversy and less about animal rights. Creating a negative stir around important issues isn’t helping their cause. But I guess at the end of the day they are a radical organization and their campaigns are indicative of that. It’s a shame because animal rights issues deserve more respect.

  2. Doug Brown February 17, 2012 at 8:01 am #

    I like controversial advertising as much as the next person Lexie, but this one is just too far removed from the core message to do much more than make advertising look like its only entertaining itself. I also like your comment about radical organizations producing radical advertising…just wish this one had left me outraged at the treatment of animals.

  3. Elly February 17, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    To me, the ad doesn’t tell me anything about PETA or going Vegan . . . all it really says is that the girl in the neck brace is depressed and has her underwear stuck where it doesn’t belong. In advertising, it’s obvious that ‘sex sells’ but it has to be done discreetly and in a way that doesn’t take away from the message that is being put forth in the commercial. This commercial is a waste of time and money and doesn’t leave any lasting message at all.

  4. Doug Brown February 17, 2012 at 10:21 am #

    I hear you Elly. Maybe the subliminal message is : Eat your wedgies! 🙂

  5. tribalstylemarketing February 17, 2012 at 10:25 am #

    Ya, that dude looked like a *real* Gun Slinger!

    I’m gonna have to agree with the both of you, this Ad is nothing more than pure fiction & comedy. I love vegetarian meals but in actuality, most of the people I know who have tried to go Vegan have had major problems with energy. Then they always say, “You’re not doing it right!” I’m not buying it. There’s way too much evidence to support the latter. We need healthy animal fats/oils to secure our well being. It’s a scientific fact. Vegetables alone cannot do it. Again, the fools @ PETA fall on deaf ears because anyone who’s done any research at all, knows this not to be the case. Consuming all vegetable, fruit, grain, & starch diets will reek havoc on your kidneys. Don’t believe me? Go ask a kidney doctor.

    I would like to point out that yes I am for treating animals ethically. I do not like commercial farming practices at all. I like free range, grass fed beef & so on. I do not eat that much meat & am very picky about the type & quality of meat I consume.

  6. Doug Brown February 17, 2012 at 10:34 am #

    The only redeeming consequences I can see here TribalStyle, are the conversations (like this one) about ethical practices that emerge from such off-base communications. But I am stretching wayyyyyy out there with that one. Feeling generous.

    To your point about vegetable-only diets, I will have to leave commentary to the experts. I don’t eat red meat myself and haven’t for 20+ years and I bop along at a pretty good pace. Still, I haven’t found the need to change my name to Lance.

  7. tribalstylemarketing February 17, 2012 at 10:43 am #

    Right, well there’s your answer right there. Ask any major athlete if they’re vegetarian, you won’t find one that is at the top of their game. Lance Armstrong, & body builders know this, NFL, MLB, NHL all know this. They consume healthy amounts of chicken, fish, beef, & some pork. You get so much more energy & healthy animal oils/fats that rebuild & strengthen your cells. Read some of Dr. Mercola’s work. Like I said, I love vegetables & especially Indian Vegetarian meals, but I’ve learned I cannot live on them alone.

  8. Doug Brown February 17, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    Ha – I wasn’t thinking Lance Armstrong, but Lance Longtime… 😉

  9. Sam Brown (@samuelmbrown) February 17, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    I agree, the message gets lost here. This is something PETA is incredibly passionate about, but then they go and treat it like a joke. It’s inconsistent.

    They are trying to generate attention and awareness, but in reality, they’ve had much better success by simply DOING rather than TELLING. As they say, actions speak louder than words. They’ve demonstrated it on multiple occasions; the KFC incident springs to mind instantly ( They get international attention, and suddenly everyone becomes a lot more educated because of the free press they get.

    They need to stick to what they’re good at.

  10. Doug Brown February 17, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    Brilliant comment Sam. Knowing the process as I do, I suspect that this campaign is less about PETA and more about the ad agency that created it. I feel a disconnection between the brand and its values, and the expression of them through the advertising. There is a feeling of borrowed interest to this execution, which I think is unnecessary given the impactful nature of the brand. Surely they could be authentic to the brand and still get noticed. They have in the past.

  11. thatguylam February 17, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    Classic overthink. I do see where they’re going to a large degree, actually: the traditional gross-out or pitying animal rights stuff can work but it’s predictable and those who have those sensitivities don’t need converting. They’re appealing to their tougher audience, young dudes who want to be known for wang power (I took that from their website). Overall it just makes me go “Huh?!”. My sense is they’ve gone way overboard and, while putting a kinda interesting story out there, I suspect said young dudes will see the hairy hand of the advertiser in a concept that’s overly overtly pandering to them. Also, it bugs me a whole lot that the first 25 or so seconds are making light of physical abuse, redeemed only somewhat in the wink-ish shot from the female near the end. If I wasn’t invited to stay to the end, I may not have stuck around for it here. Then again, maybe I’m too far removed from being a young dude who wants to be known for wang power.

  12. Doug Brown February 17, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    You’ve got that Lam power going for you though, which could be a lot more potent than Wang power! It’s good to have an ad guy’s perspective on this and I’m with you all the way. Showing the boyfriend spackling the wall hole (which I suppose he punched through in a fit of sexual euphoria with all that new-found male virility) is pure art director/copywriter guffaws. Great comment Lam, thanks for making it.

  13. Val Nathan February 17, 2012 at 5:41 pm #

    I totally agree with your take on this Doug.

  14. Doug Brown February 17, 2012 at 9:03 pm #

    How cool to have your comment on our blog Val! Thanks for taking the time.

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