PETA, an animal rights organization, constantly receives national attention and a certain shock value using powerful and distinct images to expose their messages of animal suffering. Starting in 1980, many of their campaigns have attempted to use powerful visuals with the use of celebrities to address the issue of animal cruelty and to persuade people to convert to an animal friendly lifestyle. Their campaign, I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur, is PETA’s most recognized yet controversial anti-fur campaign. This campaign is an individual behavior change campaign that tries to change and promote behaviors that lead to improved individual or social well-being. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur campaign’s ability to convey effective messages on animal rights to the public using powerful visuals and celebrity icons. Two theories that can be used to successfully analyze this campaign are the theory of planned behavior and the social cognitive theory.
There was a combination of different literature found that easily pertains to the issue addressed in this paper. This broadly classified literature includes the history and background of PETA’s organization, an analysis of the use of celebrity icons in the anti-fur campaign and the different perspectives and criticism depicted in their messages.
A large amount of information relating to animal rights disseminates from the many websites PETA is associated with. These websites are a key factor to attract supporters and publish information that will help advance its activism. These two PETA websites that were very useful for researching this paper are www.peta.org and www.furisdead.com. These websites not only give insight on the history and mission of the organization but also focuses of the different communication strategies they have used and how they have evolved over time.
In 2003, Michael Spector, New York reporter, analyzed the different efforts of “the women behind the most successful radical group in America, who he considers PETA’s driving force, Ingrid Newkirk. Newkirk is in charge of creation of the images and campaign strategies and ideas for PETA (52). The article not only discusses the important ideas of Newkirk but depicts his own perspective towards PETA’s strategic methods and how it has changed over time. At first, Spector’s perception of PETA is similar to how most people feel about the organization. In the article, Specter states “The organization has offended so many people in the two decades since it was founded ... that just to hear the word PETA is enough to make many people shudder—from fear, disgust, or simply weariness” (54). However, as the article continues, he gives PETA credit for guiding the attitudes of the public about animal welfare.
Unlike Michael Spector, many authors, including Alison Vogelaar and Wendy Atkins-Sayre, analyze PETA’s use of visual images...