CREATIVE IMPULSE

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The Independent Online
The Vegetarian Society's latest campaign - which consists of two ads, in the February editions of Marie Claire and the Big Issue (North West) - cost less than pounds 10,000. But their impact has been impressive. So impressive, in fact, that the Meat and Livestock Commission (which last year lavished pounds 15m on advertising, according to its figures) is drafting a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority. The National Farmers Union's objection has already been lodged.

Meanwhile, inquiries for Vegetarian Society membership packs - normally about 20 a week - are running at 500 a week.

The client: The Vegetarian Society

Samantha Calvert, campaigns officer:

"The material we have produced in the past was very much black and white, with a splash of blood. 'Meat is Murder / Death on your Hands' - that school of promotion. This is very different. We are just saying 'Here's something you might want to think about'. The campaign isn't completely offensive - it's even quite funny. We weren't out to upset people."

The agency: Poulters Communications

Graham Daldry, deputy creative director:

"The 'Feeding You The Facts' campaign is all about providing the other side of the story to the information put out by the meat lobby. The key aim of these ads is to provide basic information.

"We've run a lot of ads before looking at cruelty-free and welfare issues, but health issues are extremely topical at the moment. People are deeply concerned about the safety of what they eat. The time seemed right to focus on that.

"We opted for a very simple, arresting format. When you've got something strong to say, there's no point dressing it up, so we made the ads as stark as possible. Just one picture and plain text.

"The Big Issue ad shows a picture of a roast joint, and above it a list of drugs allegedly fed to farm animals: 'Clenbuterol. Ivermectin. Furaxolidone. Chloramphenicol. No wonder it's called a joint.'

"The advertisement with the bull's testicles is important, because it introduces humour. It's a younger tone of voice. We want people to see vegetarianism as lively, witty and interactive - not humourless.

"There were much worse things we could have said about meat, but we didn't want to be accused of going over the top or being sensationalist. We wanted to show things that had immediate impact but were regular occurrences, not one-off horror stories.

"The really careful choice came with the selection of editorial slots. If you go on billboards, you are ramming the message down everybody's throat, and risk causing offence or a bad reaction. For instance, some time ago, we once ran a hard-hitting ad on the front page of the nationals which provoked several complaints.

"Choosing to advertise in the Big Issue and Marie Claire meant that we were reaching a certain kind of person for whom these ads would not be too aggressive. And the choice of Marie Claire, rather than traditional, worthy left-of-centre publications like the New Statesman, say, is all part of vegetarianism's move into the mainstream."

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