In late September, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals ended up hooking up with the advertising agency that came up with the absurd “Truth” anti-smoking campaign. Miami-based Crispin Porter and Bogusky helped PETA continue its habit of misrepresenting the truth while, ironically, helping it promote smoking to very young children.
PETA’s wanted to convey the message that some tobacco companies do animal research, and so smoking subsidizes this sort of animal “cruelty.”
But they picked on odd method to make this point. Crispin Porter and Bogusky crafted several stickers that parody popular cigarette brands. Marlboro becomes “Murderboro” while Kool becomes “Krool.” On the back of the stickers are pictures of animals being forced to breathe cigarette smoke.
On the one hand, the stickers misrepresented the research done by the tobacco companies targeted. The stickers showed monkeys, dogs and rabbits being forced to inhale smoke, but in fact the companies targeted by PETA only do research on rodents.
Like the tobacco companies did for so many years, PETA seems to think that deception is okay as long as it encourages people to buy what they’re selling.
On the other hand, for once I agreed with a Philip Morris USA representative who said that, “PETA is acting irresponsibly by handing out tobacco logos to children.”
In fact, The New York Times reported that PETA representatives had handed out the stickers to children as young as age 6. That’s just appalling — I know the reaction of my almost-6 year old daughter would likely be a sudden interest in all things tobacco. Not that PETA cares. As Dan Mathews told The New York Times, “If kids stop smoking as a result, we’re delighted, but that’s not our focus. Our focus is to get kids to voice their outrage [about animal research].”
And I’m still waiting for an explanation of how activities like this jibe with Ingrid Newkirk’s claim during a March appearance on Crossfire that PETA doesn’t target children “because everything we do is based at adults.”
An anti-tobacco campaign aims not at smoking but at the use of animals in tests. Nat Ives, The New York Times, September 27, 2002.