Monday, February 2, 2009

How PETA screwed the pooch

Not that Super Bowl ads are ever that good, but last night's were terrible. And even though I'm not crazy about PETA, I would have loved if they'd gotten an ad in. Not the ad they made, but the ad they should have made.

You're probably aware of the following:

'Veggie Love': PETA's Banned Super Bowl Ad

Yes, PETA made an ad they knew would get banned so they could have a PR round of instant meaningless controversy. They even feigned surprise that the ad was banned. (Though I admit that anything that leads to the phrase "screwing herself with broccoli (fuzzy)" has benefited the world.) But PETA would have done much better to make a good advertisement using the same theme, one that would have made their point as well as the airwaves.

So, free of charge, my case for the ad they should have run, the ad that would have used the "veggie love" theme:

We open at a dining table with a woman chewing her food, licking her lips, etc., and saying how wonderful the meal is. The camera pans back: her dining partner is a guy in a giant broccoli suit. (Fuzzy.) Various shots of romantic dinners with men paired with asparagus-women, women paired with pumpkin men, etc. Then the "studies show that vegetarians have better sex," with some actual effing suggestions about where to find this info so people don't immediately dismiss the claim. Finish with a closed door, moaning sounds, maybe even a joke about how the broccoli gives good head.

I'll admit that what I've described above isn't necessarily a great ad, but it could be aired, it has some wit to it, and it's engaging. What PETA ran (or, rather, made much ado about not running) has none of those things. And as many admirable things as PETA does, their stunts don't make the case for vegetarianism well. Hell, they don't even tap into the potential target market viewing the Super Bowl, unless you believe that the condescending truck and beer ads accurately reflect the viewership.


Randy Simes said...

That commercial is ridiculous. :)

The Unbearable Lightness of Blog said...

Superbowl ads don't come cheaply, so if you're a non-profit during a recession you go for the manufactured controversy. PETA is often criticized for their sensationalism and shock tactics, and that their sophomoric stunts work against their cause. This may be true sometimes, but in a culture where most people eat meat without a second thought to the suffering involved in producing it, PETA manages to stay in the news.

Charlie Green said...

I'm not sure that staying in the news is necessarily a virtue. I still meet people who get defensive immediately when they learn I'm vegetarian. More often than not, I find out they associate vegetarianism with PETA's more negative press.

My sense (and I admit I'm giving PETA short shrift) is that they always go for the manufactured controversy. And there's a major feminist criticism of their ad campaigns that I tend to side with.

All that aside, I love The Unbearable Lightness of Blog as a name (even though it burns just a smidge).