PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is an animal rights activist organization with more than 3 million members. It is the largest organization in the world of its kind and focuses primarily on the abuse of animals in any way connected with cruelty, animals used as food, clothing, entertainment or laboratory test subjects.
PETA uses some highly aggressive campaigns to get its word out to the public, including the use of highly publicized actors and notable celebrities. There are a number of controversial ads that PETA has published over the years that have been quite shocking and offensive. Let’s check out ten of PETA’s most controversial ads:
10. Be an Angel for Animals – Always Adopt. Never Buy.
PETA is notorious for using celebrities for their ads, but this ad posed a nude Joanna Krupa holding a crucifix. Why is she even nude in the first place? What does her nakedness have to do with animals? This outraged many Catholics and Catholic churches calling the organization a fraud. Catholic organizations say that PETA exploited the religious symbols and a person who claims to be a Catholic.
9. Save the Whales. Lose the Blubber: Go Vegetarian.
PETA’s vegetarian billboard campaign in 2009 drew harsh criticism as it was aimed right at obesity and those struggling to lose weight, especially women. PETA made it seem like becoming a vegetarian would ensure you could lose all of the extra pounds and have the beach body you always wanted. Most saw it as ‘fat-shaming’ – a lack of empathy for those struggling to lose weight, sexist against women, and downright cruel.
8. Boyfriend Went Vegan
PETA launched a 30 second video campaign that compared animal abuse with abuse against women. The ad is supposed to bring humor to the situation, but not everyone thinks sexual abuse and domestic violence is a good way to promote veganism. Portraying a beat up women might not be the right avenue for everyone.
7. Manitoba Ad
PETA used a Greyhound bus attack in Canada to compare eating animal meat. The ad was to show how humans kill animals and use the meat as meals, but PETA used a gruesome stabbing and decapitation of a young man in Canada as the storyline. This ad was tasteless, very disturbing and disrespectful.
6. Meat Kills
Right after the 2009 death of Jacqueline Fleming and her newborn son, PETA launched a large billboard campaign right outside the Glasgow hospital where the swine flu epidemic had been so prominent. The billboard read “Meat Kills” with various diseases listed in the background which might be contracted by eating meat: E. Coli, Mad Cow, Swine Flu, MRSA. PETA made sure that swine flu stood out in the background. This was a very disrespectful ad just after the death of Jacqueline and her son.
5. Time to Go Vegan?
The 2014 bus campaign features a heavy set man sitting on a bus that is tilting as if the bus will tip over. The ad was develop to coerce people into choosing a better lifestyle and chose veganism, so as to not make buses tilt? However, once again PETA choose to shame people and insult a problem that many people over the world have trouble with – obesity.
4. Tombstone Targeting KFC
In 2008 PETA went after Kentucky Fried Chicken for their ‘unethical treatment of birds’ by creating a tombstone for the fast food restaurant. PETA placed the tombstone in a Louisville cemetery where the founder of the fast food restaurant was laid to rest. The incident was extremely distasteful, and has since caused legal issues between the two.
3. I Beat Women … Not Animals
After the Chris Brown and Rhianna domestic abuse situation took place, PETA used it to its advantage. They created a very distasteful ad using this scandal for additional publicity using a puppy pit bull no-less. Talk about stooping to great lows.
2. To Animals, All People Are Nazis
A PETA ad campaign entitled “Holocaust On Your Plate” was used to compare the Holocaust to eating animal meat. PETA used pictures from the Holocaust of children in camps next to pictures of baby pigs in jail with the title ‘Baby Butchers’. They also used pictures of skinny malnourished individuals from the Holocaust next to skinny malnourished animals entitled ‘Walking Skeletons’. The offensive nature of this campaign led to the ads being banned in Germany. Using historical events that were tragic such as the holocaust in ad campaigns is nothing new to PETA.
1. PETA Dressed Up as Klan Members
PETA drew national attention by dressing up in KKK outfits outside the 133rd Westminster Dog Show. PETA’s objective was to draw attention to American Kennel Club’s ability to create a ‘master race’ of pure bred dogs. Most found this wildly offensive and in no way similar. The example PETA tried to set did not sit well with most bystanders. The protest did get national attention however, just as PETA wanted.