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Breaking Through the Clutter: PETA’s use of sex in advertising April 27, 2009

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Over the last few years, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has been using sex appeals to make their advertising more memorable.  Recent efforts to issue a series of billboards in Worcester, Massachusetts, for example, have been unsuccessful due to a belief that the organization’s new ads are too controversial. Though PETA insists that they are simply trying to show that vegetarianism is fun and sexy, they have been attacked by some critics for using – and objectifying – the female body to sell their product. This was NBC’s grounds for rejecting a much discussed PETA ad for the Superbowl. That advertisement may be seen in the following video:

Discussion Questions:

1.  What is the purpose of using sex appeals in advertising?  Why do you think PETA feels the need to resort to such a strategy?

2.  What risk do you think PETA runs in relying primarily on sex appeals?

3.  PETA often uses fear appeals in their online advertisements. Do you think fear appears or sex appeals are more effective? What do you think works better for television?

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