18 August, 2010

PETA Ruins Primate Advertising for Everyone

Came across this gem on the Consumerist this weekend, so it may be a few days old. But there's one question nobody is asking, and it actually makes me kind of sad.

PETA was apparently put in a tizzy by a recent Dodge commercial, produced by Wieden + Kennedy, featuring a chimpanzee pushing the button on a confetti cannon. So Chrysler took a page from George Lucas and did the only logical thing.

The original.

The Digital Remaster.

And according to this LA Times blog post, Dodge also decided to pull the accompanying print ads.
On one hand, it's actually an improvement--like when an actor's improvisations make a hohum script look like pure genius. On the other hand, although PETA has failed to ruin eating meat for the world, they may have just ruined animals on film.

One commenter, claiming to be a PETA member noted, "Yeah. I'm a member of PeTA but I have to ask, don't you guys have some horrific pet stores or university animals experiments to shut down? Can't you leave Hollywood alone, since laws have been made and complied with for many years now?"

Another wondered if PETA will be going after KIA for their questionable use of giant hampsters.

And many others noted, Nice work PETA, now that monkey is out of job (and this may hold more truth than you think).

Those comments were obviously meant as jokes, but in truth, no one has noted if this particular chimp was abused or not, and digitally removing the animal from the spot really doesn't fix the issue. It's really more just Dodge saying, Okay, now will you shut up? And that's generally what PETA looks for with these high-profile requests and frequent naked protests: Attention. PETA will tout this as a victory, but the one entity who wasn't protected in this instance, was actually this chimp. After all, they didn't go back and unshoot the commercial or release him into the wild.

And in all seriousness, after all this blowback, and with other company's following suit, that chimp's next job may not happen. As an advertiser I'd be leery of pitching anything with animals to most clients, for fear of similar reprisals. So it makes me think, is this the death knell for primate advertising? No more e-trade. No more careerbuilder. No more Suburban Auto Group Trunk Monkey. Today the chimp, tomorrow the lemur, Friday the three-toed-sloth. Will I have to file away all those great spots I've written in my head staring monkeys in smoking jackets; monkeys hugging hobos, and a monkey playing badminton with (dare I say it) Bruce Campbell? Sadly, probably.

I think Dodge made the best of the situation and came out with a more entertaining commercial, but I shudder to think what kind of awful CGI they'll now need for the remake of Every Which Way But Loose. If you've seen the recent Marmaduke debacle, you probably threw up in your mouth a little just now.

Mark my words, August 2010, we saw the end of an era. "Right turn clyde?" Never again. Animal advertising has gone extinct.

On the bright side, the market for monkey robots just skyrocketed. I have some spots to revise.

--George C. Convery, Copywriter

PS Apparently, pulling campaigns featuring higher primates is a real sore spot for me. I blame my dad for taking me to Every Which Way But Loose when I was 6 months old...and for my separated shoulder.

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