Stephen Brook, advertising correspondent
Wednesday December 22, 2004
Puma ad: sportswear giant said it was cleared by animal rights group
Puma has said it will not be reshowing an advert that features a chimpanzee in a nappy, after renowned scientist Dr Jane Goodall joined with more than 30 animal rights groups to condemn it.
But at the same time the sportswear giant vigorously defended the advert, saying it had been cleared by the American Humane Society and the New York office of PETA, the animal rights group.
The claim today sparked a war of words with Peta who have vigorously denied any communication whatsoever with Puma.
"We are strongly against using animals for entertainment," a Peta UK spokesman said. He added that he would be contacting Puma to dispute their statement.
The row blew up after Puma said they were pulling the advert in the wake of protests from animal rights campaigners.
"The spot is not on air anymore," said Ulf Santjer, the head of Puma corporate communications.
Dr Santjer added that the advert would not be reappearing because it had already finished its scheduled on-air run.
But Puma's own press release from November, when the ad was launched, said it would run until March 2005.
Groups including the RSPCA, the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Captive Animals' Protection Society urged Puma to scrap the TV advert, which shows a young chimp in a nappy playing with a sports shoe.
"Chimpanzees and other apes suffer horribly for society's entertainment," said Dr Goodall, who rose to fame with her conservation campaign.
"It is time to move beyond the misuse of creatures who are vulnerable to our exploitation precisely because they are so like us."
Craig Redmond, a campaign officer for CAPS, said chimps used in advertising were taken away from their mother at a very young age and could only be used in adolescence because they grew too strong for humans to handle after that.
"They then spend the next 40 years in captivity because they are no use to the entertainment industry," Mr Redmond said.
Puma said it had taken "great care" during the filming of the advertisement.
A New York agency, All Creatures Great and Small, provided the chimpanzee for the advert, which was filmed in the city.
"The chimpanzee is three years old and we can assure you that he has been given incredible care throughout both his career in commercials and his life with his human parents," Dr Santjer said.
"As we were told, his parents adopted him after his mother died and they have raised him from a baby. The American Humane Society attended the photoshoot. We also had the animal's trainer managing his activities the entire time - as an integral member of the team.
"Before the ad was broadcast it was also sent to the national office of the PETA in New York, and they did not have any complaints."
Campaigns by animal rights activists mean that adverts such as the long-running campaign for PG Tips that featured chimpanzees could never appear today.
Adverts for Halfords and Grolsch beer featuring animals have also been withdrawn after complaints from groups such as CAPS.
In May a campaign by CAPS succeeded in getting an advert pulled that was created by M&C Saatchi for the alcohol industry organisation the Portman Group.
The M&C Saatchi ad had chimpanzees drinking from beer bottles and feigning drunken behaviour in an effort to tell young people not to be "drunken monkeys". The advert was never broadcast.