Hasta la Viva!
An advertisement by UK pro-vegan charity Viva! has been banned over its “graphic and gory” content in which a woman slurps a yogurt that’s festooned with blood and guts.
“We concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, and unjustified distress,” the country’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which decides the content standards for advertising, wrote in the ruling.
In it, a blonde woman could be seen opening a yogurt labelled “Killer Yoghurt. Flavoured with a mother’s grief,” as upbeat music played in the background.
Underneath the wrapper lies an assortment of blood-spattered viscera in place of jam, which evokes something you’d find under a Civil War operating table.
In the next scene, a model dips her spoon into the container and brings it to her mouth for an exaggerated bite. With an entranced stare, blood begins to run down her smiling chin.
All the while, the narrator describes the dairylicious gutbucket as the “the umbilical cord flavor. “Produced with only the finest ingredients, the stolen milk of grieving mothers,” they gushed in jest. “Taste the torment in every mouthful. Blended with brutality. Be complicit, with Killer Yoghurts.”
The clip then cuts to an indoor dairy farming facility as the jarringly wholesome jingle is replaced by a more sinister tune.
“All mothers have their newborn babies stolen,” the voiceover ominously intones. “Baby calves are denied their mother’s love.”
It adds, “Mother cows are killed when their milk production falls. Many newborn babies are slaughtered.”
The ASA ultimately decided to scrap the “gutsy” ad campaign after receiving seven complaints, which deemed it “likely to cause unnecessary distress and serious and widespread offense” and “irresponsibly targeted, because they had been seen by children.”
However, Viva! argued that the video was a “theatrically staged parody” aimed at exposing the “aspects of dairy farming that consumers did not see,” per the watchdog’s ruling.
The animal rights advocate had wanted to highlight the “hypocrisy of companies which claimed their farms had high welfare standards.”
They declared that the advert was quite tame compared to the “death and violence on TV,” citing reality TV programs featuring “tasks involving real blood and participants eating animal parts.”
In other words, no guts no glory.
However, while the ASA acknowledged the PSA’s satirical tone, they deemed the “graphic and gory” content “likely to shock and cause a sense of disgust.”
“We considered that the juxtaposition of the woman’s happy and wholesome demeanour with graphic close-ups of blood and offal was likely to further highlight the graphic and gory imagery,” they concluded. “We acknowledged that an ad referencing animal welfare might cause distress to some people and, in light of the language and gory scenes, we considered the distress likely to be caused by this ad, particularly to children, was unjustified.”
ndeed, the ad campaign appeared via YouTube to people under 18, per the ASA, who said that Viva!’s attempts to restrict viewership to adults was “insufficient.”
“We told Viva! to ensure future ads were prepared responsibly, were appropriately targeted and did not contain graphic scenes or language that were likely to cause unjustified distress to viewers,” they wrote.
The decision didn’t sit well with Viva!’s founder and director Juliet Gellatley, who said the ruling was “unjust and smacks of censorship,” per the Daily Mail.
“Over three million people saw Viva!’s advert and were unoffended, but following just seven complaints the ASA decided to shut it down,” she declared. “This is ludicrous and perhaps has more to do with our ad making people think about the reality of the dairy industry.”
Gellatley added, “Adverts for meat and dairy products that falsely show farmed animals living in idyll are allowed to be shown despite them portraying staggeringly fake realities.”
The Viva! boss also accused of the ASA of false advertising like the dairy industry, suggesting that it’s an org funded by the advertising industry that masquerades as an official objective body.
“Given how they turn a blind eye to blatantly false claims made by the meat and dairy industries yet jump on anything potentially seen as controversial by organizations such as Viva!, it’s clear where their loyalties lie,” she declared. “I have heard many say the ASA is at odds with their slogan, ‘Legal, decent, honest and truthful.’”
Not all provocative animal rights adverts have been suspended by the ASA.
Last month, the organization refused to censure PETA’s (the People For Ethical Treatment Of Animals) recent graphic, pro-vegan campaign in which they controversially declared that fish consumption is no different than eating cats.
The controversial commercial, which appeared on a billboard outside a fish and chips shop, showed a seafood monger holding either a fish or a dead cat depending on which angle it was viewed from.