Successful viral marketing, but is it literally sick?

picture-67I, like most everyone on the Internet the last couple of days, as well as traditional media, seem to feel the need to rant about PETA’s most recent media blitz. You may or may not be aware that their ad for the Super Bowl has been banned.

NBC’s explanation:

NBC Universal vice president of advertising standards Victoria Morgan wrote that the “PETA spot submitted to Advertising Standards depicts a level of sexuality exceeding our standards,” describing one actor as “screwing herself with broccoli.”

PETA’s response:

“PETA’s veggie ads are locked out while ads for fried chicken and burgers are allowed, even though these foods make Americans fat, sick, and boring in bed,” responded PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange. “Whether you’re a 250-pound linebacker, a fan, or a ‘football widow,’ the smartest thing you can do to make sure that you’re around for next year’s Super Bowl is to go vegetarian.”

Hey… I find NBC’s explanation offensive, much less the ad. I also believe PETA  could have crossed the line purposely to ultimately attain far more exposure than had they run it during the Super Bowl and to save the $3 million placement cost. Their site shows they were TOO prepared for the rejection. If that was their goal, they have been successful. Because even I am participating – in the name of research. But just because it has created a popular viral interest does not mean it has successfully connected with their target audience. Possibly just the opposite.

Though the animal-rights movement was founded by a man, Peter Singer, and though many of top positions within the U.S. animal-rights movement are filled by men, women make up between 75 percent and 80 percent of the movement. Of the estimated 2.5 – 3 percent of the US population who are true vegetarians, 68 percent are female and the majority are motivated for health reasons, not animal rights.

I do believe that PeTA has been successful in doing one thing. They have offended both feminists and conservative women alike. You don’t get these two on the same page very often, but PeTA seems to have done it. Again, it is never wise to alienate the majority of your target audience. But you decide. Do you think that special woman in your life would be offended? Or has this ad made you seriously consider being a vegetarian?

VIDEO: Watch the banned PETA commerical. WARNING: May be considered explicit.


Stephanie Holland is President and Executive Creative Director for Holland + Holland Advertising, Birmingham, Alabama. Working in an industry that is dominated by men, she is one of only 3% of the female creative directors in the country. Stephanie works mostly with male advertisers, helping them successfully market to women. Subscribe to She-conomy by Email

4 Responses to “Successful viral marketing, but is it literally sick?”

  1. Well done PETA!

  2. Virtually no skin shown, not offensive to me. The music is what makes this ad *sexy* as it’s similar to strip-tease type music perhaps? I found the ads more offensive.

  3. This was a “planned banned” ad. You’re right about that. PeTA, hopefully, doesn’t have $3M to spend on the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, as long as they get attention for these obnoxious stunts, they’ll continue. Or, perhaps as you point out Stephanie, they’ve offended enough people to fail miserably.

    Scott Lackey
    Jugular Advertising

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