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Guns, Grenades & Pornography

September 23rd, 2011

It just gets better and better. You truly can’t make this stuff up. Not even the random, haphazard plot of a John Irving novel could have imagined what we’re seeing in the newfangled era of marketing and brands today.

In continuing crazy news that seems sometimes more like the pre-apocalyptic events from the Book of Revelations, PETA is starting a pornography website and children are receiving hand grenades as prizes for a contest in religion.

*   *   *

I Scream, You Scream, We All Just Scream. Period.

And under the category heading, “WE REALLY ARE THAT DIFFERENT,” we learn this:

A radio station run by a powerful Islamist militant group in Somalia held an event designed to honor the children who were experts at the Koran. As prizes, they doled out live grenades and AK-47s to contestants between the ages of 10-17. Speaking proudly that day, the Sheik Muktar Robow Abu Monsur, a moderate Shabab leader, said, “Children should use one hand for education and the other for a gun to defend Islam.”

The Shabab, like similar extreme militant groups in the region, have worked to enforce a strict, pure code of Islamic principles. They have outlawed school bells, soccer, dancing, gold teeth and forbade women to wear bras. Another group, Hizbul Islam, demanded that radio stations stop playing music. According to The New York Times, “Some stations substituted the musical introductions to news broadcasts with the sounds of gunshots, engine roars, car horns and animal grunts.”

First Prize for a Child in Somalia: An AK-47

Getting Raunchy for the Sake of Animal Rights

Where does being a provocateur for a higher cause end, and promoter of irresponsible, irrelevant content begin?

Norfolk, Virginia-based PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has announced that it is beginning a new pornography website in order to promote its animal rights platform and vegan diet messages.

According to the nonprofit group, will feature highly graphic videos and photographs, a marketing tactic that the organization has used in the past. PETA has used porn stars and nudity to gain attention and promote its messages n the past. In that regard, it has adopted a strategy that has been pioneered by many fashion companies such as American Apparel and much earlier, Calvin Klein.

Apparently, November is the earliest that the organization would have approval for the website from the ICM registry.

According to spokeswoman Lindsay Rajt, “I think the bottom line is we live a in a 24-hour news cycle where over the years we’ve found our racier actions are kind of a fast track way to get people to stand up and pay attention about the plight of animals.” Previous advertising and online campaigns have featured tantalizing images or video, followed by messages about animal rights.

PETA’s focus is on building awareness, and they have clearly had success with edgy campaigns before. (The Superbowl commercial that promoted better sex among vegetarians was banned by NBC.) All of this just seems like another indication that agencies (and their clients) are willing to go further and test the boundaries of good taste — and even reasonable, relevant messaging — in order to stand out among the incredible market full of clutter.

Animal rights and sex — of course! Why didn’t I connect those two things before? What’s next? Can we expect a full-blown human sacrifice to draw attention to the plight of baby seals?

I suspect that the gimmick will indeed draw a great deal of attention for the organization and likely they will even realize a spike in fund-raising. Over the long term, however, how confusing will this be for an organization that simply wants to draw attention to the ways that animals suffer worldwide? Isn’t that the real mission? And if so, what is the cost to building awareness for the original cause? How many potential, loyal donors will turn away, for every single new impression they make among a wider audience?

They appear committed to this strategy for animals’ rights, as they continue to work to build a separate, even stronger and potentially more damaging image as a publisher of pornography.

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This entry was posted on Friday, September 23rd, 2011 at 11:53 am and is filed under Advertising, Brand Identity, Business, Marketing, Media. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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