The San Francisco SPCA has come under fire for a used car themed advertisement for “certified pre-owned cats.” Is this exploiting cats, or exploiting cars? Or is it a clever advertising campaign that will attract attention and get people to blog about it? oh wait…
The online campaign promoted the ‘used-cat’ angle but also reduced the fees for obtaining the felines, which shocked and awed many.
In an article from the sfweekly, Joe Eskenazi notes the level of horror that people felt from the advertisement:
“members of the group Fix San Francisco have already sent letters to management expressing certainty that this will lead to, at best, irresponsible owners stocking up on cats, or, at worst, horrible people buying lab animals or pit bull bait.” -sfweekly
Maybe it’s my years of watching inane online videos but I don’t see what is shocking about the campaign. It’s a clever way of grabbing attention and adding some levity into what is otherwise a very depressing situation.
The argument about lowering prices of cats leading to deranged cat fiends also seems implausible. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that cats probably aren’t the hardest animal to find if you really want one. FixSF co-founder Julene Johnson agrees:
“I’m not aware of any studies showing that the less you pay for an animal, the higher at risk it is for abuse,” she said.
I understand whenever cute animals are involved there is going to be more passionate people on both sides but anger over the advertisement really ignores the problem the SPCA is facing; they have hundreds of unwanted cats who aren’t kittens anymore and they need to place them in good homes.
Issues about screening is one thing but let’s not bash an organization who is trying creative ways to reach an audience.
So while I have no problem with ‘trying’ to do something shocking for shock’s sake to garner attention to the problem. As an actual messaging tool, I’m not sure how well this is going to hit it’s mark.
Let’s look at the type of person who is going to actually take home a “used cat.” This is pure conjecture but I’m going to say that this demographic is going to be primarily female, previously or current owners of cats, who feel like it is the right thing to do to adopt an adult cat. They probably know something about the problem already and feel like they are doing their part to adopt an adult.
Let’s just say I’m right about this profile. If you were in this demographic, would you be turned on by a commercial about a used cat? I wouldn’t, because it doesn’t address my reason for adopting a cat. I’m not doing it because it’s cool or because I just saw an online ad that made me laugh, I’m adopting a cat because I want to feel like I’m giving back and I love cats enough to save one from being put down.
So as an advertising campaign, I’m sure it will attract more visitors to the site, and at the end of the day they might actually adopt more cats because more eyes are going to be learning about the adult cat problem. But as a messaging tool in itself, I’m not sure how closely it hits the mark.