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The PETA Approach – How social media is changing the big game

2 min read

Brands & Campaigns

Whether you’ve been hanging by the watercooler trying to flush your system after Super Bowl gluttony or on Facebook checking out your friends’ thoughts on the game and/or commercials, you’ve heard about it. Chances are you’ve probably watched it in its entirety. Yes, we’re talking about PETA’s television ad. Pulled from the Super Bowl for being too “explicit,” the 30-second spot has consequently generated more buzz than any that actually ran during the big game.

While human instinct has long drawn us to that which we are told to stay away from, social media has put more power than ever in the hands of the consumer.

Five years ago, this would have been a net loss for PETA. A few news outlets may have covered it– and if PETA was lucky, a television news program may have featured a snippet—leaving the viewer in the dark about the message. Today, with YouTube at nearly everyone’s fingertips—curious folks (myself included) just search and watch the commercial in its entirety. Then they pass along to their curious friends via Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, etc. and discuss whether it should have been pulled. As a result—PETA’s message has found its way to more eyeballs than ever–  and people are evangelizing whether they know it or not. Why? Because it’s no longer advertising—it’s news. How many people are going to forward and comment on the “Clydesdale finds love” spot by Anheuser-Busch? By my very unscientific YouTube tally, the score is PETA: 140,000 views; Anheuser-Busch: 2,800.

While this is nothing new (as GoDaddy has been pushing this for years), we have to ask– Is this the recipe for success in social media age? Push the envelope with scantily-clad women, edgy language or crude jokes and hope you get the axe from network television? Perhaps—but it is clear that the power of marketing is shifting. The consumer will continue to define success — on their terms.