The World Animal Protection U.S. has notified Gucci U.S. of its concern over the luxury brand’s use of tigers in its Gucci Tiger collection campaign, and has asked it to stop using wild animals in its ads.
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As reported, in celebration of the Year of the Tiger, Gucci is offering Gucci Tiger, a selection of ready-to-wear and accessories for men and women featuring various renditions of the animal. There is an accompanying ad campaign conceived by creative director Alessandro Michele and shot by photographer and director Angelo Pennetta. Actual tigers roam the scenes of the campaign, having joined a group of friends for high tea in various spaces of a luxurious, retro-style hotel.
Liz Cabrera Holtz, wildlife campaign manager for World Animal Protection U.S., said: “Gucci is sending the wrong message by promoting tigers as pets and luxury items when they are wild animals who belong in their natural habitats. World Animal Protection urges Gucci to stop using wild animals in their campaigns and issue a statement that tigers belong in the wild. The Year of the Tiger should raise awareness that these incredible animals need conservation, not commodification. More tigers live in captivity in the U.S. than the mere 3,900 who remain in the wild. Tigers are under serious threat due to their use as ‘pets,’ exploitative tourism, farming for traditional medicine, poaching, habitat destruction and the climate crisis. Whether bred in captivity or captured from the wild, the stress these tigers undergo when forced to pose for photos is immense. Gucci’s fashion campaign treats tigers as mere props and encourages consumers to do the same.”
A Gucci spokeswoman said: “Nature, wildlife and its denizens are particularly important to Gucci, which, since 2018, has been totally carbon neutral across the whole supply chain. In February 2020, Gucci joined The Lion’s Share Fund, a unique initiative raising much needed funds to protect endangered species and their natural habitats. Gucci’s support and ongoing contributions are driving tangible on the ground results for this urgent cause.”
Further, she said: “A third-party animal welfare organization, American Humane, monitored the set on which animals were present and verified that no animals were harmed. Tigers were filmed in a separate safe environment complying to Gucci’s policies and then featured within the campaign.”
Lindsay Oliver, executive director of the World Animal Protection U.S., said they sent notification Wednesday morning, but haven’t heard back from Gucci yet. When told that American Humane monitored the photo shoot, Oliver said: “Really there’s no humane way to do a photo shoot with a captive tiger, or a captive wild animal for that matter. There’s a lot of control and manipulation that goes on for those animals. It’s very stressful, it’s cruel and it’s usually a dangerous situation as well.”
She claimed the time during which the set is monitored is very minimal, and there are a lot of things that come into play, such as the transport and the overall stress on the animals, in terms of dragging them through the transportation process, and putting them in cages while they’re waiting to be used. “These are wild animals, and this is not the environment for them,” said Oliver.
Asked if she expects Gucci to discontinue the campaign, Oliver said: “We feel that’s the best move for Gucci, and for them to be able to take a stand for wild animals, to certainly make it clear that wild animals do not have a place in ads like this.”
Discussing whether companies eventually do take action, Oliver said after two years of their organization applying pressure, Expedia has modified its position on offering dolphin shows since she believes dolphins in captivity suffer greatly.
As for whether other companies are being targeted regarding the Year of the Tiger, a spokeswoman for the World Animal Protection U.S., said: “We address issues of animal suffering across industries as we become aware of them, the Gucci ads being the most recent.”
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