The Blog

by Mike Hayward

An Open Letter to PETA & Atheists

Hi there. I’ve noticed your work over the years, and I was hoping you could answer one nagging question for me.

What are you doing?

I’m not trying to be a jerk here, I seriously want to understand what both your general thought processes are when it comes to advertising. More specifically, what are you hoping to accomplish?

If you’re trying to alienate people and cement the stereotypes that you’re both radical fringe groups that aren’t worth listening to, congratulations. You nailed the brief.

I’m in advertising, so you’ll forgive me if I’m over-thinking this by trying to attach a strategy to your work. For all I know your goal may just be to see your name mentioned in the press as many times as possible. Sort of the Lindsey Lohan approach. You’re certainly talked about, and that’s all that matters.

Let’s cite some examples. For PETA, there’s this and this and this. And if they have their way, this.

And Atheist groups have produced the following gems, viewable here and here and here.

One of you thinks it’s a good idea to publicly make light of a politician’s cancer diagnosis, the other decides to sully both religion and a beloved children’s figure in a single billboard.

Both of you are impressive for your sheer ability to offend.

I’m guessing this will fall on deaf ears, but let me rewrite the brief for each of you.

PETA, your strategy should be to 1) separate the legitimate, substantiated, and most egregious forms of animal cruelty from the radical “anything beyond petting animals is pure evil” causes and 2) use advertising to educate people about your legitimate issues in a way that might actually get the average Joe to think you’re making a reasonable point.

Atheist groups (that for whatever reason feel the need to advertise), here’s what I’d do: focus on spreading a message of tolerance of all beliefs, including the choice to not believe in any higher power. Isn’t that really the goal anyway? To get everyone to feel like they can believe whatever’s in their heart without the need to condemn anyone who doesn’t share their exact same faith? For most people, that’s a pretty easy message to get behind.

So that’s it. Your track records indicate that this probably won’t change your minds. I do think people, and groups, get addicted to media coverage, good or bad. And what I’m suggesting here probably will get you less attention from the press. No, it would likely result in something much less important to you: getting people who aren’t already members of your group to actually listen to what you have to say.

Thanks for your time.


Mike Hayward

One Comment

Helen Szablya

Your evaluation of both is right on target! You guys do awesome work. Keep it up! Helen

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