PETA’s strategy has long-included shock and awe. Its shocking campaigns make us go, “aw” for all the animals of the world, leaving us wondering whether we’re the worst people in the world for eating meat.
First things first — just because you’re not vegan doesn’t mean you hate animals. But PETA has no reservations about humping the fence between thought-provoking advertising and downright insensitive marketing. And the following seven campaigns are so controversial, they’re some of PETA’s most shocking of all time. Heck, one was even inspired by an infamous Donald Trump conversation (page 6).
So, before reading any further, just be aware that all of these topics involve sensitive subject matter.
When PETA compared cows to rape victims
Comparing animals born into the dairy industry to human rape victims? Hm … we’re not so sure that was the best move. But hey, it got people’s attention, which is really what PETA’s messaging is all about. And plenty of people took to Twitter to express their disdain for advertising they thought was insensitive.
PETA’s response? Well, it didn’t back down. The animal rights organization defended itself, saying it wasn’t diminishing human victims of sexual assault simply because it was acknowledging that other kinds of animals are victims of abuse, too.
Next: This one is pretty extreme.
When PETA used protesters dressed as KKK members to protest dog shows
The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show has a loyal following — a following of canine enthusiasts eager to throw their support behind their favorite dog breeds. PETA, however, doesn’t exactly see it that way. Not surprisingly, the group has taken drastic measures to protest the American Kennel Club.
In 2009, PETA members dressed in KKK attire outside the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York. According to PETA spokesman Michael McGraw, the campaign was meant to draw a comparison between the AKC’s efforts to create a “master race” with pure-bred dogs. In reality, though, that’s quite a stretch.
When PETA used an image of an overweight woman to call for vegetarianism
Taking aim at overweight women, the billboard read, “Save the whales. Lose the blubber: Go vegetarian.” Finally! Did someone just solve every overweight person’s problem? No, not even a little bit. But apparently, PETA believes going vegetarian is all it takes to lose weight. Cue the eye roll.
PETA did, however, apologize and swap the ad out to read, “Gone: Just like all the pounds lost by people who go vegetarian.” So, do you think the edited version is any better than the original?
Next: This message is just misleading.
When PETA posted a “got autism” ad on a billboard
Yes, PETA jacked the “got milk?” slogan and replaced it with “got autism?” And people were outraged for obvious reasons. Through the billboard campaign, PETA claimed there’s a direct link between cow’s milk and autism. But are the claims true? Not according to Time, which mocked the ad as totally bogus.
Next: This brought up a lot of pain, especially for a certain group of people.
When PETA compared chickens to Holocaust victims
PETA knows how to push the boundaries of what’s socially acceptable and what’s undeniably offensive, and the case was no different here. Controversy sparked as soon as this campaign, which compared chickens to Holocaust victims, went live.
Regarding the 2003 PETA campaign, Anti-Defamation League national director and Holocaust survivor Abraham Foxman said,
The effort by PETA to compare the deliberate, systematic murder of millions of Jews to the issue of animal rights is abhorrent. PETA’s effort to seek approval for their ‘Holocaust on Your Plate’ campaign is outrageous, offensive and takes chutzpah to new heights.
Next: When politics and PETA mix …
When PETA stole a line from Trump’s infamous tape with Billy Bush
When a recorded conversation from 2005 resurfaced, everyone got a glimpse into then-presidential candidate Donald Trump’s true feelings toward women. “Grab them by the p-ssy,” he proclaimed. Not surprisingly, the now-infamous tape between Trump and Billy Bush fast became the disturbing phrase heard round the world. And PETA was quick to jump on the media-frenzied bandwagon with a timely campaign of its own.
Despite the unpleasant language, at least PETA’s use of Trump’s vocabulary had good intention (but still …). The campaign called for people to “Grab a P-ssy” — which translates to the less-offensive version of “adopt a cat.” By that time, though, Trump’s original use of the phrase had already outraged plenty of people, and not everyone found PETA’s interpretation amusing. It was, after all, a questionable move.
Next: This campaign has some mixed messages.
When PETA used an abused woman to showcase the power of veganism
This PETA campaign comes a little too close to featuring an actual person who’s been abused. It’s called “Boyfriend went vegan and knocked the bottom out of me,” and its commercials are totally insensitive at best. And at worst? Well, that’s up for you to decide.
Either way, it’s clear PETA’s pushing an agenda — yet again — while simultaneously pushing the boundaries, as well. Didn’t watch the clip? Here’s the takeaway: It appears that boyfriend beats girlfriend. Turns out, it was from wild sex, because naturally, going vegan turns any guy into a strong and powerful force in bed. So, yeah, perhaps PETA is only deterring people from veganism with this one.
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