PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), that venerable old gadfly to the meat-eating, animal-testing, inhumane masses once again wants to be seen and heard. As the name would suggest, PETA is a longstanding animal rights organization that might be best known for their “Go Naked” campaign targeting those drawn to wearing fur, along with their multiple consumer boycotts and crafty publicity stunts to draw attention to animal cruelty. As far as fighting the good fight, PETA has been there for over 30 years bringing animal welfare and animal rights into the national conversation. But with what has become almost an annual tradition, PETA has attempted to break in, or break through, to that most unsympathetic and bloodthirsty audience – the Super bowl viewer.
Two years ago, PETA submitted a television ad, intended to run during the Super Bowl (any idea what 30 seconds of airtime costs during the Super Bowl? $3 million is the current estimate) called “Veggie Love” depicting a collection of top model looking women and their amorous relationship to vegetables, with the tagline “Vegetarians Have Better Sex.” The ad was summarily rejected by NBC and never broadcast because it (as stated by NBC) “depicts a level of sexuality exceeding our standards.” See video below (Note: there are depictions of sexuality and vegetables):
PETA is again trying to provoke (and inform) with their follow up ad, which is more of a budget version of the first attempt, titled “Veggie Love Casting Call.” This is the low rent version of the previous ad (and said to be the actual audition tape for the original ad) but treads similar ground – veggies, sexy bikini-clad women, and a pro-veggie, pro-sexy message. The odds are this one will never see the light of game time, nor will it have half a chance to titillate, nor change the minds of the largely carnivorous Super Bowl audience.
PETA courts controversy, there is no doubt about that, but I have to question whether this campaign is the most effective use of their time and money? Even if the ad were broadcast, it is hard to imagine that the millions of Super Bowl viewers will see it as anything more profound than the flashing of Janet Jackson’s right breast. The viewers (men and women alike) will see it as a flash of sexuality and shenanigans, not unlike the rest of the 135 ads that run between plays. A PETA spokesperson said about the ad, “We’re using a fun and sexy way to get a very serious point across: Going vegan is best thing you can do for animals, the planet, your health, and your sex life.” The jury is out on this one. And it is hardly worth noting the level of hypocrisy exhibited by NBC on this one – citing too much sexuality coming from the network that proudly runs shows like “Friends with Benefits,” and “Lipstick Jungle.”
No doubt the issues that PETA endeavors to bring into the public conscience are worth noting and paying attention (animal welfare, animal cruelty, and the detrimental effects of a meat-laden diet). However, are they just preaching to the diverted? Is there a better way to get Joe Football on the side of the vegan elite? Can sex actually sell this concept?