Anti-fur campaigns became part of popular culture during the 1980s-1990s. Beginning with the anti-sealing campaign in the 1970s and expanding to a more general campaign focused on all animals used to make fur garments. (Emberly 1997). Many celebrities became involved in these anti-fur politics and continue to be used as icons for anti-fur campaigns.
Brigitte Bardot, a famous French actress/model became heavily involved in the anti-sealing and anti-fur movement during the 1970s. (Wikipedia 2012) She traveled to Canada to protest the seal hunts taking place in Northern Canada. As a very famous fashion icon Bardot was able to exert a strong influence on many of the people purchasing fur as a fashion accessory. Bardot, other celebrities, and many individuals dedicated to exposing the fur trade seemed to change the consumer’s opinion on wearing furs. In Britain, fur sales fell “75% between 1985-1990” (Emberly 1997:2).
Many groups began campaigns in the 1980s to bring awareness of the anti-fur movement to the general public in hopes of discouraging consumers from purchasing fur products. Lynx, a British animal rights organization used mass media to bring the anti-fur movement to the center of pop culture. Their print ads, and videos had a huge impact on the general population, targeting middle to upper class white women as the main consumers of fur products. (Emberly 1997). Their shocking, print ads were designed to make wearing fur be seen as something morally wrong. Wearing fur was once seen as a status symbol, and Lynx attempted to change that symbol into something to be ashamed of rather than proud of. With slogans such as “It takes up to 40 dumb animals to make a fur coat. But only one to wear it.” (Lynx anti-fur poster 1984), and posters showing animals caught in steel traps, the public was beginning to see fur in a new way. (Emberly 1997)
Greenpeace International had announced in 1984 that they would launch an anti-fur campaign (Emberly 1997). Their aggressive campaign was set to include famous fashion photographers and numerous celebrities. Hoping to guilt fur wearers out of their fur, Greenpeace planned for an aggressive media campaign. However, when controversy over this campaign’s effect on the indigenous trappers of Northern Canada came to light, Greenpeace cancelled this campaign.
Founded in 1980, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is another group focusing on anti-fur efforts. (Wikipedia 2012). PETA has often been criticized for being to concerned with press coverage, and not focused enough on radical action. That being said their media campaigns, while always being controversial, have become very well known. Pictures of celebrities exposing their bodies in protest of wearing fur have attracted the attention of not only anti-fur enthusiasts but many pop-culture followers.
Using shock value such as naked women, gory photos, and foul language anti-fur campaigns such as those launched by PETA and Lynx became very popular since the 1980s and 1990s. Even people who are completely disinterested in the anti-fur movement have most likely seen at least one of these images. If they haven’t seen them, they have certainly heard about them. Using celebrities will ensure that the ads reach a wider audience than a simple ad educating the consumer on the anti-fur movement. Although these types of campaigns portray a very one sided approach to the issue, I think that their use has been pivotal in the growth of the anti-fur movement. These ads will definitely grab people’s attention and hopefully encourage them to learn more on the subject.
Emberly, Julia V. 1997 The Cultural Politics of Fur. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
Wikipedia. 2012. “Brigitte Bardot”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brigitte_Bardot#Animal_welfare_activism Consulted on March 2nd 2012. (Wikipedia 2012)
Wikipedia. 2012. “People for The Ethical Treatment of Animals”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People_for_the_Ethical_Treatment_of_Animals Consulted on March 2nd 2012