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Vodafone pug case: PETA intent is good but extreme: Marketing Experts

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Vodafone pug case: PETA intent is good but extreme: Marketing Experts

How many times have you gone 'Awwww' while watching cute as button pugs in the Vodafone India ads? Well, that just might end soon if animal welfare organisation, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals – better known as PETA, has its way. PETA has requested Vodafone to stop using pugs in its advertisements. In a letter to Vodafone India Chief Executive Officer Sunil Sood, PETA said pugs are “not normal dogs” and are “always in pain” because they are a genetically compromised species with exaggerated features developed through breeding.

“These dogs have become popular in India, thanks largely to your commercials, and are purchased by people who are usually unaware that they’re severely compromised genetically by being bred for unnatural traits, such as tiny flat noses, bulging eyes, and folds of skin,” PETA CEO Manilal Valliyate said in the letter.

Experts who chatted with exchange4media contended that this action by PETA has been a tad over-the-top. N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA, says, “PETA as a brand is one with good intention but is going a little over-the-top. When we are showing cruelty towards women or children, it’s like saying don’t take children or women in ads. These days they are being extreme and must instead take the middle path. It is uncalled for and a more balanced approach is expected from someone so respected.”

Saurabh Uboweja, International Brand Expert and CEO, Brands of Desire, also feels that the animal welfare organisation usually adopts an extremist approach. "PETA is known to use shockvertising (shock advertising) to stick out their point of view on ethical treatment of animals. In this case, it is not so much about Vodafone or Pugs as it is about PETA's opportunity to raise their voice as a leverage on the high profile Vodafone campaign. They have smartly timed a PR campaign to send out a message to the brand and to the thousands of households who adopt a pug as their pet,” he says.

Both Uboweja and Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consultants, reason that the use of animals in advertising, has for years, been said to tug at the heartstrings of even the most cynical. 
“As far as using animals in advertising or branding is concerned, animals have been extremely effective as part of brand identities as well as for marketing products due to high familiarity with emotional and behavioural attributes of humans,” says Uboweja.

“Animals tend to soften things. The 'so-sweet' factor is a big addition. Of course dogs are an Indian favourite. Wonder what the cats did wrong!,"quips Bijoor.

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