November 2, 2009
It’s Raining Cats and Dogs
PETA is an animal protectionist group known as the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals. The group is a non-profit charitable organization that has been around since 1980. Started in Virginia, it is not only based in the United States but also in Germany, the Netherlands, India, and the Asia-Pacific Region. PETA rules under the standard that humans should not eat, experiment on, wear, or use for entertainment for animals. Their missions include preventing animal abuse in ways such as shutting down factories, labs, and corporations that have caused bodily harm or death to animals (PETA Media Center Fact Sheets).
The advertisement being focused on here displays a woman dressed in a cat costume behind jail bars with the slogan, “Cats are too cool to be in zoos.” The advertisement takes advantage of color, value, texture, shape, and lines. It also incorporates sex appeal to catch the eye of the intended audience. The intended audience for most PETA activities includes a broad range of people, but it specifically made up of young adults who are willing to try to make a difference for what they believe in. The model in the picture is revealed to be a celebrity by the name of Isha Koppikar. Like most celebrities, she is thin and attractive. Because of this, the cat costume she has on accentuates her body and catches people’s eyes with her sex appeal. PETA, and most other companies who choose to advertise like this, catch the eye with sex appeal and then force the audience to perceive the message being sent by the advertiser.
The main colors in this ad are black, white, and gray. The background is white while the cat suit the model is wearing is black and the cage she is in has gray metal bars. The text displayed is all in black except for one word that appears in red. In this case, the whole picture consists of black, white, and gray so as to make the word in red appear very significant. The colors also send a message that the meaning of their organization is simple. It is in put in “black and white” that cats should not be put in zoos. Under the slogan, in a smaller text, it says, “Let animals live free.” The message is very easily interpreted, so much so that they even deploy it to be under the slogan. Early on, PETA makes it known that their goal is to let animals live freely, how they believe they should live.
Color in an advertisement typically emphasizes or symbolizes an underlying meaning that is being brought upon by the advertiser. Here, the only color in the ad is red and the only place this color appears is at the bottom of the ad where it says the organization’s name, PETA. It can be inferred that the reason the group chose red in particular is because it is the color of blood. They are completely against the killing of animals, and with all types of killing; blood is involved in some form or another. PETA also chooses to make the name of their organization the only color in the picture so that it stands out. The red here jars the flow of black and white and makes it known that it is for animal protection.
Texture is another key attribute of an advertisement. It helps the reader draw emotion so that the intended message gets recognized faster and more effectively. A huge part of this ad is the black and white color along with the gray, metal bars of the cage. Due to this, the texture sensed by the interpreter will most likely be a feeling of coldness and hardness. With these come feelings of loneliness and sadness. These feelings are successful because this is how PETA wants its audience to feel after they think about the death and torture of animals.
As for shape, half of the ad is three-dimensional while the other half of the ad is two-dimensional. The two-dimensional part of the image is the black and white background with the text. The blackness at the top of the background forms white lines that appear similar to lightning bolts coming down onto the cage. In storms, lightning is typically associated with fear, so here PETA is imprinting a feeling of fear in their audience’s brains that this is what will happen to cats if not for their help. It is intentionally two-dimensional to highlight the importance of the three-dimensional section. The three-dimensional part of the advertisement is the part where the model, Isha, is in the cage. She looks very angry about being there and looks to have thoughts of escaping. The fact that only this portion of the picture is three-dimensional complements the fact that PETA is using sex appeal to catch the eye of the interpreter.
The last component of the ad is the text displayed and how it is actually arranged. When it comes to text arrangement, font size, type, and color are significant factors when determining whether the intended message will come across easily or if it will be misinterpreted for something else. The biggest sized text in the picture is put near the middle of the ad. This shows the reader that this text is the most important for the audience to see. It is the main slogan and is meant to be interpreted as being clever and well thought out. The message of the ad lies in the text under the slogan that says, “Let animals live free.” A lot of the times, the message is hidden in the image itself, but in this ad, it is shown to you. This freedom for animals is what PETA is trying to get across. The reason the message would be out in the open is to create a sense of urgency to the reader that they need to help with the organization in any way they can at that moment. At the very bottom of the picture is the model’s name, Isha Koppikar, and it says that she is for PETA. This is where the word PETA is in the color red. Under the line where it announces that Isha is for PETA, the full name of the organization is written out. All of this information is given to the reader to provide them with a full understanding of who they are and what they do.
Overall, this advertisement definitely sends a message to the intended audience along with everyone else. It is effective in showing what they believe in by integrating color, value, texture, shape, and lines. It catches the eye of the reader right off the bat and forces them to think about what is in front of them. However, the advertisements that PETA puts out for the public are very radical and intense. They use a great amount of sex appeal in order to symbolize equality among people and animals. The entire reason a woman was put in a cat suit instead of just having a cat itself was to show that humans and animals should be treated alike. They only use famous models and celebrities to back up the public with them and their views and, while this may be effective advertising, it is certainly not effective in selling their ideas. Due to this reason, and anti-advertisement was created to mock the original PETA ad discussed above. In this ad, a comical feel is presented that mocks the entire organization itself.
The anti-advertisement created uses the old saying that cats have nine lives to mock what PETA stands for. The anti-advertisement will have the same idea as the first did, but instead of the cat having feelings of loneliness or sadness, it will have feelings of indifference toward being in a cage. More importantly, it will make the general public indifferent. Animals were put on the earth simply to be inferior to humans and, because of this, they should be able to be used by humans whether for clothing, food, or experimentation.
Just as the original advertisement, the area of focus in the anti-advertisement is the cat portrayed in the cage, but the main words here say, “Cats have nine lives.” This ad has the opposite affect when it comes to sexual appeal. Since the argument is that humans and animals are not equal, a cat is put in the cage instead of a woman in a cat suit. This is symbolic of how animals are inferior to humans. Generally, this ad should reach out to all audiences that understand what PETA stands for, even if they are against it. Like most cats, this cat is particularly unsexy. Though it might not catch the eyes with sex appeal, it does with color contrast and text arrangement so that the intended message is understood.
The spoof advertisement has the same arrangement of black and white throughout as the original ad. The only difference is that the cat is colorful instead of the black cat suit worn by the woman. Regardless, the black, white, and gray still has the same effect on the image, which is to emphasize the bright colors. The slogan is in black and white and so is the background. Since the background is like this, it appears to make the rest of the image of the cat in the cage stand out and become more three-dimensional.
The anti-advertisement consists of more color than that of the original. This was done on purpose to emphasize the only things in color, which are the cat and the name of the organization. The name of the organization, PETA, and its spoof acronym is in red. The spoof acronym is, “People Eating Tasty Animals” which mocks the entire organization because their platform is to prevent this. Because it is one of two sections with color, it draws attention in the picture. The other area of color in the ad is in the cat, which is an ugly golden brown color with orange stripes. The point was to draw attention to how “unsexy” the cat is so as to mock the idea of using sex appeal to sell the product. The cat is massively overweight and has a look of indifference on his face. The look of indifference sends the message that cats could live in a cage or out in the wild because they are animals and therefore, inferior to humans.
The texture of the anti-advertisement conveys a sense of emotion just like the original ad did, but in a different way. The original advertisement used texture to draw attention to the jail bars of the cage so that the reader could further interpret the feelings of sadness, anger, and loneliness. The spoof advertisement uses the same cage for the reader to further interpret the cat’s emotions. The difference here is that the look on the cat’s face conveys a nonchalant, indifferent attitude. It appears that the cat could care less if it was in the cage. A human in a cage would be considerably frowned upon by most modern societies but the cat in the cage should not matter because it is an animal.
The shape of the spoof ad follows the same general pattern where the two-dimensional background emphasizes the three-dimensional cage. However, the background was slightly tweaked. Instead of the original lightning bolt theme to create fear among the viewers, curvy blobs of black were put in place of this. These new and improved structures wave over and below the cat like blobs of nothingness. The black abyss created in place of the lightning bolts simply does nothing but takes away the sense of fear instated by the original advertisement. The two-dimensional section highlights the three-dimensional area so as to emphasize the “unsexy” cat behind the jail bars living unequal to humans.
Text arrangement plays a key part in the anti-advertisement as well. The slogan is placed out to the right of the cage and says, “Cats have nine lives…” and then under that near the bottom of the cage says, “So what.” The text at the top of the cage serves as a mini cliffhanger where the reader expects some sort of animal protectionist slogan displayed under the first words. Instead, the feeling of indifference is added again with the words, “so what.” Everything in the advertisement comes together with this arrangement of text. Once this is read, the reader reads the spoof acronym of People Eating Tasty Animals. It is fully understood with these components that this advertisement is mocking the PETA organization.
In the end, both advertisements sent a message, but they were opposite. They were both effective in deploying text arrangement, color, and shape to relate to various things that would influence the message sent to the reader. In the first advertisement, a message to protect animals by all necessary means was portrayed. The second advertisement was an anti-advertisement of the original ad and sent the message that cats are just animals, which are inferior to humans and because of this, humans should be able to use them in whatever ways they wish to. The anti-advertisement also played a big role in mocking the use of sex appeal in an ad. The point of the cat in a cage instead of using a model wearing a cat suit again was to make it appear “unsexy”. People do not find cats to be sexy, they find models to be sexy. PETA also chose to use a woman in their ad to subconsciously say that humans and cats are equal in nature. A real cat was used in the spoof ad to convey that they are not. While the original message effectively portrayed what they wanted to, the anti-advertisement did its job to mock the first image and send its own message.
“PETA Media Center Factsheets.” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA): The animal rights organization. Web. 18 Nov. 2009. <http://www.peta.org/factsheet/files/FactsheetDisplay.asp?ID=107>.