Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Weren't we supposed to stop using captive great apes in ads, Google?

Business Insider just published Ace Metrix's list of top-performing ads in 30 categories for the first quarter of 2015. Among them is Google's "Friends Furever" spot for Android:

Wait a minute here: Didn't the US Ad Council announce that it no longer supports the use of great apes in ads back in 2008?

PETA has been lobbying the ad industry to stop using apes as props for years. As a result,  Omnicom Group's BBDO, GSD&M and Merkley & Partners; Interpublic's McCann Erickson, DraftFCB and RPA; Havas' Arnold and Euro RSCG; WPP's Grey Group, Ogilvy & Mather, Young & Rubicam and JWT; and Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi and Leo Burnett all agreed to stop using great apes in ads in 2011. The Google ad was created by Droga5, who apparently didn't get the memo.

I'm not PETA's greatest fan, but as a human (and having the Jane Goodall Institute as a client) the exploitation of our closest cousins by my industry troubles me.

The challenge with using any animals in advertising is their treatment, since they are not willing performers. The most intelligent social animals, such as great apes (chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans), elephants, and whales/dolphins, are wild animals that suffer from anxiety and depression when removed from their peers — even if captive bred. (Dogs are domestic animals, so they're a little bit of a different issue.)

The Google ad has representatives of all three of these animal groups performing for your amusement, and that of 16 million of your closest friends.

Jane Goodall is asking people like us, who create ads and entertainment, to sign a pledge not to use captive great apes in our work. I think it's time we stopped treating our cousins like props.

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