PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is known for its provocative ads--many of them featuring women in various states of undress--that aim to draw attention (however indirectly) to animal rights. But their latest ad, a Valentine's Day video that warns women about the "dangers" of their boyfriends' burgeoning veganism, may have crossed a line.
The ad, released online Monday, shows a limping, pantsless woman sporting a neckbrace, struggling to carry a bag of vegetables home from the store. (Unsurprisingly, we'll warn that this ad, embedded below, may be a bit too racy for the eyes of younger viewers.)
"This is Jessica," the narrator, Kevin Nealon, says. "She suffers from 'BWVAKTBOOM,' 'Boyfriend Went Vegan and Knocked the Bottom Out of Me,' a painful condition that occurs when boyfriends go vegan and can suddenly bring it like a tantric porn star."
Jessica's boyfriend is then shown fixing a hole in their bedroom wall. "Oh, you're feeling better?" he asks as she disrobes.
A call to PETA revealed that the campaign was slated to be launched on Valentine's Day; the accompanying BWVAKTBOOM.com website, launched Monday, includes "tips on how to have sex safely with vegans—such as mounting all TVs and mirrors securely to the wall."
But does the ad also promote violence against women?
"The piece is tongue-in-cheek," Lindsay Rajt, PETA's associate director of campaigns and outreach, told Yahoo News. "People who watch the ad all the way through see the woman has a mischievous smile. She's happy to go back with him. It's playful."
But released on the day after the Grammy Awards, when some criticized the show's producers for allowing a performance by singer Rihanna's ex-boyfriend—and domestic abuser—Chris Brown, you have to wonder if PETA is striking the right tone.
"PETA is going for shock value here," Michael Learmonth, digital editor at Advertising Age, wrote in an email to Yahoo News. "But I don't think portraying women as beat up physically is a good idea, even in jest."
Learmonth added: "These ads aren't made for TV, so the strategy here is that they will cause controversy, trigger coverage, and go viral."
Last week, the group executed a pre-Valentine's Day stunt in Shreveport, La., placing a live couple making out in a bed downtown to promote the vegan lifestyle. A sign on the headboard read: "Vegans Make Better Lovers."
Prior to the Super Bowl, PETA released a "Girls Gone Wild"-style anti-milk ad that it said was banned from the broadcast.
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