We should be targeting the audience, not the advertisement
Another day goes by, and another Facebook post begs me to focus on a single issue campaign that is ineffective.
Today, someone shared a petition being passed around that is begging Loblaw’s, one of Canada’s largest grocery retailers, to remove a deceptive advertisement immediately. The ad in question depicts a deli-meat sandwich with the phrase “Made with love. Raised without antibiotics or hormones” stamped across it. I think we can assume the deli meat in question is pork, because Animal Justice is now on their case about pigs.
The petition launches into an explanation of why “loving” must be excluded from the sales pitch, with undercover videos of pig abuse at pork suppliers and “concealed” cruelty at the helm. Of course, the argument continues by weighing pig intelligence against dogs and children. Should readers agree and follow along with sending the email message crafted in the petition to the grocers President, they’ll simply be asking for the removal of the ad and not that this treatment or use of pigs change in any way (and without making any changes themselves). The theory is that the ad tricks people into thinking pork products are a good choice, and that removing it will make everyone reconsider. But the reality here is that like all single issue campaigns, this endeavour is a waste of time.
The store caters to what the public wants
Most single issue campaigns will target a company or brand for carrying, promoting, or contributing to the use of animals. The problem is that it ignores demand entirely. Loblaws is likely labelling their pork antibiotic and hormone free, and loving, because they recognize that consumers are becoming more and more interested in knowing what they buy. With false labelling on basically everything packaged humane, cage-free, and animal-welfare approved, we should be more concerned with educating consumers on what really happens, then the suppliers. There’s no point in petitioning the people who knowingly place the ads, when we should spend our time educating the people they’re targeting instead. Otherwise, it’s a long road to take down each and every ad that also falsely depicts happy cows on dairy farms, or touts the health benefits of serving meat or eggs. And at what point will we begin petitioning restaurants, clothing stores, and all the other retailers than peddle this bullshit?
The label doesn’t change what’s happening to pigs
Everyone already knows a pig dies for a pork product, “clever” advertising like this doesn’t really cover that up. Whether or not this ad runs, and whether or not they use the terminology “loving” or not, what’s happening to pigs doesn’t change. The “victory” removal of this ad won’t change the chain of commodification that pigs and so many other animals face on the way to becoming items for purchase. Showing the undercover videos highlights one small part of the problem without speaking to the most important solution we have; going vegan.
Their stores and products aren’t worse than any other
This campaign forgets that Loblaws is no different than any other grocery store, and that the pork products they carry are no worse than the eggs, milk, steak, and other animal products that line their shelves. When you focus on the single item they’re selling, you justify people going to Loblaws and choosing something else for their carts, or believing another store will have better standards for their meat. We need to advocate for always leaving animals off of our shopping lists, no matter where we shop, and no matter what we’re buying.
This doesn’t teach anyone about veganism
People can scan the Animal Justice website, read the entire petition, send it off to Galen Weston, and be no closer to helping animals. Why? Because veganism is totally excluded on this campaign. The time, energy, and expenses affiliated with creating this webpage petition would be much, MUCH better spent sharing the necessity for going vegan. Pigs don’t need us to stop using inappropriate language, to widen their cages, or to change their feed. All animals require that we stop using them, and that doesn’t require a dollar, a petition, or global overnight change. Animals just need us to decide that right now, our choices are the biggest influence we have.
Advertising is one small piece of the propaganda puzzle that attempts to illicit people to continue in the exploitation of animals. Removing one ad, from one company, will not have an effect on the lives of animals like helping one person to go vegan will. Single issue campaigns routinely fail those they aim to help, and countless other animals they throw under the bus along the way. We need to advocate that through veganism, we are influencing change everyday for all animals. When people change, those who sell to them will too.