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The Horrible Cost of Using Chimps in Super Bowl Commercials

The Horrible Cost of Using Chimps in Super Bowl Commercials

CareerBuilder debuted a new commercial during the Super Bowl featuring chimpanzees, which may mean good news for CareerBuilder, but it definitely means bad news for chimpanzees.

CareerBuilder used chimpanzees in many of its early commercials, but then ceased that particular ad series and retired the chimps that had been in them. Their decision to use the apes in their Super Bowl ad this year was a considerable ethical backslide for the company.

You can watch some of the company’s early ads here, and their newest Super Bowl ad here.

The company produced its ad in-house and insists that the chimps were treated well. This is always the claim of those who exploit animals for their entertainment, and it is at best bending the truth and at worst an outright fabrication.

Eighteen firms say no more
Eighteen large advertising firms have pledged to stop using apes in their ads since 2008, and the list will presumably continue to grow. Some larger firms, however, have held out despite pressure from animal advocates.

The biggest problems with using chimpanzees in advertisements isn’t one that many people know about. Beyond the treatment of the apes while they’re performing, it is the way they are acquired and how they’re cared for after retirement that are the biggest problems.

Get ‘em while they’re youngSimply put, an adult chimpanzee is too strong and too dangerous to work with, so all chimps that you see in advertisements are quite young, which necessitates taking the chimps from their mothers prematurely. 

Separating mothers from children is a common motif in the exploitation of both animals and humans. Dairy cows have their children taken from them to become veal, African slavery split up families in America, and in order to make CareerBuilder more money, the company separates young chimps from their mothers.

After the chimps have grown to adulthood, they can no longer perform and usually the only option is to turn over their care to a sanctuary. Because of the special care required by retired performing chimps, it can cost around $20,000 a year to care for the chimps.

Additional studies have shown that when people are accustomed to seeing chimpanzees performing, they are less likely to perceive them as endangered and less likely to want to help preserve the species. All four subspecies of chimpanzee are endangered and are considered a priority species by the WWF (World Wildlife Federation).

CareerBuilder says that their business has been down since they stopped using chimpanzees in their ads and that people constantly asked “when they monkeys were coming back” (chimps are not monkeys, but apes).

A high costSo what is the cost of CareerBuilder’s bid to help their profit margin? The cost is young chimps taken from their mothers, confined and forced to perform for human amusement, and then retired when they’re no longer useful. The cost is hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the chimps in sanctuaries. The cost is a huge blow to public awareness and concern for the plight of chimps worldwide.

If you ask me, that’s far far too high of a cost.

Take Action! Sign the petition telling CareerBuilder to stop using chimpanzees in their ads.

Related Stories: 

Support Protection for Great Apes

Are Monkeys Self-Aware? Does it Matter?

Chimps Can Guess What You’re Thinking


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Photo: Rennett Stowe

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5:57PM PST on Mar 7, 2012

Information is power!

2:44PM PST on Mar 5, 2011

They are our animals not our entertainment!!!

6:34PM PST on Mar 4, 2011

definatly has to stop

8:29AM PST on Feb 27, 2011

Anyone who thought the ad was "funny", has to do some serious thinking and re-evaluating of their morals and priorities. It isn't me,me,me, but thinking of the larger world.

ANIMALS ARE NOT HERE FOR OUR AMUSEMENT AND ENTERTAINMENT -- NOR EATING NOR WEARING -- NOR EXPERIMENTATION. They are sentient beings who share the world with the stupid, cruel, exploitive other animal species, humans.

12:08PM PST on Feb 23, 2011

I've gotta be honest, I thought the ad was funny. So, most people not in the know will think "big deal, it's funny. They're just animals." But I think that, along with hounding the companies, we gotta get people educated. I watched the videos first, so I wasn't really thinking about it seriously. Most people won't, however after reading the article I felt convicted for even laughing at it. I think that most people would too. They see the video and it's funny but then they get the facts behind it and I think that maybe it will cause them to want to act more. The same could be said for when people eat veal or go to Sea World or buy clothes at Wal Mart or anything of that nature. So, like I said before, we gotta make these companies accountable, and I like care2 and other orgs do a great job of it, but we also gotta find ways to make the public more aware of issues that go on in the world.

8:42AM PST on Feb 23, 2011

...and you politicians talk about lowering the deficit? Start here!
In fact, carry this funding over to the lunch programs needed in schools. DUH!!!

10:02PM PST on Feb 17, 2011

disgusted by another human behavior and signed

8:29AM PST on Feb 17, 2011

Read and Signed =]

9:47AM PST on Feb 15, 2011

No we should not stop animals for the ads but we must pressure the ads companies to take care of them instead.

9:41PM PST on Feb 13, 2011

Can we just STOP using animals for entertainment? Seriously!


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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