Volkswagen Of America announced late last week that the company will stop using primates in its ads, acceding to demands made by the animal-welfare group PETA. Activists argue that the primate training and rental industry subjects defenseless animals to a life of stress and cruelty, which hardly seems a fair price to pay in the name of selling a few cars.
The most recent Volkswagen clip that drew PETA’s ire was merely a short online preview of Volkswagen’s Super Bowl ad. Such previews are known as “teasers” because our society’s standards of titillation have fallen so low that we are expected to find arousal in an Internet commercial for a TV commercial. This teaser included a three-second clip of a capuchin monkey, according to The New York Times, and in conjunction with its announcement, VW pulled the teaser video from YouTube.
As it happens, Volkswagen’s actual Super Bowl spot didn’t even include a monkey anyway. Only the teaser featured the capuchin, one cute animal amid a panoply of other typical Super Bowl ad gimmicks that Volkswagen held up for mockery. Despite Volkswagen’s new policy, the company’s marketing wizards will still be allowed to make commercials for commercials that make fun of other commercials, strip-mining every cultural symbol for its “brand potential” until, at long last, we live in a world devoid of meaning, where ideas have no inherent truth or untruth. They just can’t use monkeys.
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