A few happy pieces of animal rights news have me feeling hopeful tonight. A fur ban has been implemented in West Hollywood, and now I’ve read that the UK recently banned a pork ad for not being honest with consumers. The sausage ad apparently depicted the pigs used for the meat as happy little animals who had plenty of room to run around, with unrestricted outdoor access and an open, homey barn—which the Advertising Standards Authority found to be false and deceptive. So they pulled the ad.
Wow. I just wish we had that kind of advertising accountability in the United States. Didn’t Europe just ban a Julia Roberts ad for being deceptive to women who wanted to buy the makeup she was promoting, too? Talk about advertising accountability! Now ad developers will have to turn to something other than lies to sell their products—like creativity, research, and factual information, oh my!
Meanwhile, I hope this ad’s ban in particular will bring a little attention to the plight of pigs and other animals raised for food in general. I think their conditions have been slowly but surely improving in various areas, and if we tell companies that they’re not allowed to show how their animals live unless it’s honest, maybe people will start really wondering about how they’re raised. We are raised from childhood to believe that animals are happy and healthy on most farms when, in fact, the picture usually isn’t so pretty.
That’s not to say that there aren’t good farms out there that do treat animals well; we should seek these out and give them our business if we do eat meat in the first place. But we also need to be aware of the suffering of animals in factory farms, and instead of giving kids sweet songs about Old MacDonald and cute little barn toys, we should refrain from furthering these illusions of sweetness and light. I’m not saying that you need to show your kids PETA footage (heavens, no!), but keep the conversation honest, and when it’s age appropriate, explain about what it means to be free range or factory farm, and seek out kind alternatives together (or become vegetarians, if you wish).
And keep doing what you’re doing, Advertising Standards Authority! Hopefully other ad regulation companies will take notice and do the same. It’s one thing to make a stupid commercial that gets stuck in your head; everyone should have the right to do that. It’s the process of pandering outright disinformation and lies that needs to be ended.