Peta ad banned for exploiting Peter

I’m a big fan of the animal rights charity Peta but they have gone a step too far with their latest advert. 

Peta (people for the ethical treatment of animals) have never shied away from using shock tactics to get their message across. And often these tactics work. One of their videos of a sheep being very cruelly slain to death actually encourage me to become a pesco-vegetarian (I’m still working on giving up fish). 

They’re latest poster went a step too far though, showing an image of Baby P’s killer Steven Barker and written underneath is: “Steven Barker: Abuser, Baby Abuser, Rapist. People who are violent towards animals rarely stop there.” Barker apparently tortured frogs and guinea pigs when he was a child. 

But the poster, which appeared on a billboard in Haringey where Baby P lived, has now been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) who said it could be seen as “exploitation”.

They added: “We considered that the claim and image used in the ad had been used in a shocking way merely to attract attention and that the reason did not justify the means in this case. We therefore also considered that the ad was likely to cause serious offence and distress to some people.”

I understand that the message they are putting across is a very important one, but, as the ASA rightly point out, the ends cannot always justify the means. Some kind of poster which put across this message without the reference to this suffering, abused baby would have been more than adequate. The use of statistics to prove the correlation on a well designed ad would have done the job and grabbed attention.

I feel that this was the lazy way out for Peta. They saw an opportunity to grab headlines and they used it irrespective of having any respect for the memory or life of Baby P. Basically, this just isn’t a good enough reason to exploit the harrowing life this poor child had to live through and they should have been a lot more creative when putting the ad together rather than just going for the obvious.

On a final note, it is kind of ironic that the advert is getting all of this publicity. Despite what I have said above it’s obvious from this situation and numerous other similarly ‘shocking’ ads in the past, that good advertising seems to merely amount to creating posters which are so outrageous they are bound to get complained about and banned. And then the company in question can just sit back and enjoy the free ride of press they will receive, which is going to be seen and heard by far more people than the advert itself would have ever reached.

By Sophie Hudson

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