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Negative P.R. Is Still P.R…. Right?


PETA.

Sometimes that’s enough to understand why I titled this post as I did. But yesterday I read Jack Neff’s article in Advertising Age and simply had to comment.

It seems as though PETA Exec VP Tracy Reiman sent a letter directly to Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the hippy-dippy originators of (Unilever’s) Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream (yeah that Ben and Jerry) requesting Ben & Jerry’s switch their cow’s milk based product to… Hold on to your hats… HUMAN BREAST MILK!

Yep. Human. Yep. Ice Cream.

Ms. Reiman defended her point, stating,

“The fact that human adults consume huge quantities of dairy products made from milk that was meant for a baby cow just doesn’t make sense… Everyone knows that ‘the breast is best,’ so Ben & Jerry’s could do consumers and cows a big favor by making the switch to breast milk.”

First, I just had to say “ACK!” As an avid Coffee HEATH® Bar Crunch fan, I was irritated and thoroughly offended. Then I had to think about the impact of the request and the subsequent article. I had to laugh. Maybe – just maybe – PETA and Ms. Rieman aren’t so dense.

Let’s look at it from a P.R. standpoint.

Yes, based on the buzz rolling ‘round the Internet, PETA has created a swarm of simple publicity. Just Google “Ben & Jerry’s” and the first page has more than a half-dozen of links to articles and blogs about the PETA request.

A-ha. They got PETA links to show up under a Ben & Jerry’s Google search.

Now, Google search PETA. I see one link, and it’s an article from the Toronto Star calling this “PETA’s New Stunt.”

And just look at the ire being allied at AdAge

Positioning, name recognition and buzz…

Now, without getting into the base factors of good Public Relations; research, objectives, programming and evaluation (R.O.P.E.), I’d have to guess PETA’s request was less of a heart-felt plea for Vermont’s cows and more of a divisive P.R. stunt to garner name recognition and positioning in their ongoing, myopic campaign.

Did PETA do their homework? ‘Dunno. Maybe that wasn’t necessary. But simply considering it takes 12 gallons of cow’s milk to produce one gallon of ice cream, I don’t think we’ll see a lot of ladies lining up in Vermont for the job (not to mention young men applying for herd management positions). Ouch.

And with that thought, can you think of any mass-produced product – for human consumption – made from a derivative of the human body? C’mon, PETA, think it through. Anything?

So, is this just myopic ignorance or a strategic PR stunt? What do you think?

Until Next Time,

Keep Cooking
Andrew B. Clark
The Brand Chef

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