Select Page

Animal Rights and Responsive Activism

The ever topical emotional and rational issues of animal rights and inhumane practices inevitably become interlinked and highly complicated. I have too little knowledge or insight to be able to actively delve into these issues with any meaningful and rational coherence.

I do therefore, greatly admire the organisations, that with heartfelt dedication, take on these multi-faceted issues about the ethical treatment and welfare of our fellow living creatures, and appreciate their communication initiatives in providing viewers with enlightening commercials.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

PETA is an American non-profit organisation founded in 1980 by Ingrid Newkirk and Alex Pacheco and based in Norfolk, Virginia.

The organisation has 6,5 million members, mostly active supporters, that plausibly makes PETA, if not the largest, certainly one of the largest, most motivated, and most influential animal rights group in the world.

1. PETA, The Bear

Advertising Agency: VML Y&R, Prague

Directed by Angel Apostolski, the short film is about a bear that is caged and brought to a laboratory to be strapped down, shaved, injected with chemicals, cut open and then disposed of.

The ‘bear’ in the story however, is a little girl’s lost teddy bear that is used with graphic effectiveness as a powerful visual metaphor to highlight the cruelty that animal testing actually entails.

2. PETA, 98% Human

Advertising Agency: BBDO, New York, USA

Toygar Bazarkaya, executive creative director at BBDO New York explained the agency’s creative motivation behind PETA’s public service campaign, ‘The Great Ape Pledge’.

“You’re always assured by filmmakers that no animals were harmed, so you feel good about it. The thing you don’t know is these animals are beaten and punched and tortured to do what they do.”

“They have a window where they look cute to us, around 4 or 5 years old. But by 6 to 8, they become too strong and too dangerous, and they’re discarded. The back story gives you chills.”

To avoid the use and abuse of living creatures in film making, the agency’s persuasive solution was to communicate the power 3D Animation (CGI) has to be a highly preferable and immensely effective alternative.

American actor Adrien Brody felt that the highlighted issue was a highly important public service communication and in acknowledgement of its humane gravity, gladly provided the ‘voice-over’ for the commercial at no charge.

The agency realised however, that to get the attention of their key target market, namely commercial filmmakers, they would have to win a Gold Lion at Cannes. With the help of the highly skilled ‘The Mill’ studios, they laudably achieved that goal.

3. PETA, Behind The Scenes of 98% Human

Design & Animation Studio: The Mill, New York, USA
Creative and Animation Director: Angus Kneale
VFX Supervisor: Vince Baertsoe

The detailed production process of the remarkable realism that was achieved makes for fascinating viewing.

4. PETA, Behind The Leather

Advertising Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, Bangkok, Thailand

For this startling brand activation Ogilvy set up a fake ‘Leatherworks’ pop-up shop in a large, very busy Bangkok shopping mall.

Hidden cameras recorded the shock reactions by customers when they discovered the grim surprises that the prop-makers and stylists had prepared for them. The commercial of the edited in-store footage makes for tough viewing.

Using fake blood, the amazingly realistic props of intestines and even a mechanical beating heart are truly remarkable.

The activation won 5 Cannes Lions. Two Design Golds, a Promo & Activation Bronze, and a Gold and Silver for Media.

5. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Back To The Start

Advertising Agency: CCA (Creative Arts Agency), Los Angeles, USA

‘Chipotle’ is the Mexican-Spanish name for a smoked and dried Jalapeño Chili Pepper.

The Chipotle Mexican food franchises’ stated mission is ‘To Cultivate a Better World’ by ending factory farming. That objective, from day one, has been their principled guide to the way they practice and manage every aspect of their business.

Directed by John Kelly, ‘Back To The Start’ had millions of views online before it was aired on television. The commercial motivated over 11 million impressions in nine days via Twitter alone, and went on to win a Cannes Grand Prix for Film, and a Cannes Grand Prix for Branded Content and Entertainment.

The commercial’s public impact was hugely positive, and the supportive responses so far-reaching, that McDonald’s were motivated to announce that they were putting an end to their inhumane supply-chain procurement and management practices.

The soundtrack of ‘Back To The Start’ features country music legend and singer Willie Nelson. It was played on radio and sold on iTunes, with the proceeds going to Chipotle’s Cultivate Foundation.

The song lyrics are from Coldplay’s ‘The Scientist’.

I was just guessing at numbers and figures

Pulling the puzzles apart
Questions of science, science and progress
Don’t speak as loud as my heart

Nobody said it was easy
It’s such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be so hard
I’m going back to the start.

6. Chipotle Mexican Grill, The Scarecrow

Advertising Agency: CCA (Creative Arts Agency), Los Angeles, USA

‘The Scarecrow’ is an integrated online campaign involving a short animated film directed by Limbert Fabian and Brandon Oldenberg.

The film is linked to an interactive App-based game to motivate support for Chipotle’s ongoing mission ‘To Cultivate a Better World’ by ending factory farming.

The soundtrack features a haunting cover of the song ‘Pure Imagination’ from the movie ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ performed by Fiona Apple.

The excellently crafted campaign won over 600 awards that included a Cannes PR Grand Prix and a Cannes Cyber Grand Prix.