People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has gained itself a lot
of attention by sponsoring on ongoing campaign against the Oscar Meyer
Weinermobile. The Weinermobile is a 27-foot long vehicle shaped like a
hot dog. Oscar Meyer sends it to different cities to promote its products
and audition kids for an upcoming ad campaign. And at almost all stops
it’s been met by animal rights protesters.
Carrying signs with slogans
like “Pigs are friends not food” and occasionally featuring
protesters in pig costumes (how appropriate), PETA recites its litany
about the supposed health risks of eating meat, the “torture”
that animals slaughtered for food are forced to undergo, and occasionally
attacks on Oscar Meyer for “exploiting” kids. Much of the rhetoric,
in fact, resembles the rhetoric used against the tobacco industry. As
PETA’s Bruce Friedrich put it, “The Weinermobile is the meat industry
version of Joe Camel enticing kids into a practice that may well kill
them later in life.”
A typical example of the heated
rhetoric was provided by Brenda Sloss, a director of the St. Louis Animal
Rights Team, who told reporters when the Weinermobile visited St. Louis,
They [kids] deserve to know the truth. The truth is Oscar Meyer is
in reality a dead pig that has gone through torture … Every time you
bite into a hot dog you are biting into pesticides, animal feces, ground-up
animal parts and antibiotics that have been pumped into the animals.
Friedrich seems to think that
the Weinermobile campaign is “raising awareness” and he’s probably
right — like PETA’s recent claim that milk is a racist drink, however,
the effect is probably to alert the public to just how extreme PETA’s
agenda is. As Claire Regan, manager of corporate communications for Oscar
Mayer put it,
Kids love it [the Weinermobile], and we do the auditions like Hollywood.
Hot dogs are fun food; they bring people together at cookouts, fairs
and ballparks. People are out there to have fun. What happens is that
parents get upset when activists yell at them. Parents don’t want someone
making their child feel guilty because they don’t believe in a vegetarian
diet, and they don’t want their kids yelled at. Parents feel they have
rights to choose how they live.
What’s The Beef? St. Louis, August 1998.