An open letter to PETA from your target audience (I think)
Hi PETA. Yes you, the “People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals”. It’s your target audience here. Or at least I think I might be your target audience. I’m not sure you actually know anymore. Which is why I’m writing. I think you guys have “jumped the shark” and thought you might like to know why.
Why am I your target market?
- You had me at “ethical treatment of animals”: when I hear that name, I think: cool! I’m one of you! I’m a person in favour of that – I mean, who wouldn’t be right? It’s a hard concept to argue with. Animals need someone to speak up for them. Yay.
- I’m a social-justice-minded guy: I’m a “soft lefty” who believes in equality, justice, and the environment, so ideologically, we should be able to speak the same language right?
- I’m a dad: you know, influencing the choices of the next generation (when they listen).
- I’m a blogger: when I speak, literally dozens listen. Okay it ain’t thousands a day, but it’s something.
- I’m a heterosexual: and despite my better intentions, when I see nice-looking semi-naked woman, you get a free pass to a bit of my attention. So yeah, all those early “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” campaigns against fur did catch my eye, and because they were clever and fairly well executed, and (read this line twice please) there was a clear connection between the creative and the message they actually did make me think twice about the fur trade. So congratulations.
But that’s where you’re losing me
Last week, I made the mistake of clicking on your “PETA State of the Union Undress” and suddenly I felt like I was on water skis heading straight for the shark pool.
Yes PETA. I get it. That’s “State of the Union Undress” – like “address” but naked (snort snort, chortle). And apparently this is your third annual installment, timed to coincide with the US President’s State of the Union speech.
The video features a speech by a model who strips down, not just to her knickers or cleverly concealed naughty bits, but to full frontal nudity (you’ll notice I’m not linking to it. Feel free to Google away, but trust me, you’ll feel sleazy afterwards).
Almost worse than that, the performance is awful. The speech is rambling and badly written. The subject matter is all over the map, from seal hunts to chicken farms to “promoting healthy vegan lifestyles”.
Save the SuperModels!
But how about when you top it off with exploitation of human beings? Surely that’s even worse than (gasp) eating eggs.
What really got me was the baby seal look on the poor model’s face. She just looked profoundly uncomfortable – like she’s not sure why she signed up for something like this, and she’s hoping her mother and / or future non-porn-industry employers aren’t watching.
Basically, she looks unethically treated.
And that’s what got me thinking. Who among us speaks up for the poor, oppressed, fabulously-rich and beautiful?
My new organization:
All joking aside…
PETA, just be aware that when you put together extreme lack of focus with sensationalism all you get is noise. Just noise.
If you want me back, just work on these two things:
- Focus on issues where you can actually make a difference. I might be convinced to stop wearing fur or eat less meat but if you tell me never to buy leather or drink a glass of milk, you’ve lost me.
- Try subtlety. Seriously. It works. You can tease and be playful, but make sure there’s a solid, audience-friendly point at the end. And make sure it never crosses the line into titillation and sensationalism for their own sake.
Because while you might “reach” your audience, trust me: they won’t be listening to what you’re trying to say.