THE ORIGINAL AD
In this Peta Asia Pacific advertisement, Sophie Monk, an Australian actress poses nude in front of a background of chilli peppers with the caption “Spice up your life — Go Vegetarian.” When I first saw this advertisement, I did not understand what it meant. I could not see the connection between vegetarianism, nudity and Peta. After some research, I found that this ad was part of a larger campaign launched by Peta to find the sexiest vegetarian celebrities. Most of these ads use thin, naked women as a vehicle to promote vegetarianism. My problem with this advertisement is that it sends the message that Sophie Monk is attractive only because she is a vegetarian. It plays on her sexuality to convey to the viewers that if someone wants to become more attractive, they should make the switch to vegetarianism. The chilli peppers in the background are not there because of its health benefits, it is there because it helps sell the idea of a sexy vegetarian. Moreover, the caption “Spice up your life,” does not directly refer to the consumption of chilli peppers, but instead it refers to vegetarianism as a lifestyle that can increase sexual desire. In addition, the small font size of the “Go Vegetarian” part of the ad is also problematic. It is so small that it is almost like a hidden message of the ad instead of the main focus. Based on the size of the images and font alone, a viewer’s eyes would instinctively travel to the naked body and then to the “Spice up your life” part before ending with “Go vegetarian” creating the message that a person is physically attractive only if he or she is a vegetarian.
THE RECONSTRUCTION: MY SPOOFED VERSION
When I was reconstructing this advertisement, there were aspects of the original ad that I wanted to keep. Firstly, I wanted to keep the message of “Go Vegetarian” because I think that it is a positive message. There are prominent studies that show that vegetarianism can lead to a healthier lifestyle and that it is better for the environment. Secondly, I wanted to keep Peta in a positive light. A lot of the spoofed ads put companies in a negative light but Peta is a non-profit organization with a positive mission, which is the ethical treatment of animals. Moreover, the consequences of spoof ads are also different for non-profits. Individuals can choose to not buy products from companies that have a reputation of publishing sexual and objectifying ads, but Peta’s message of “Go Vegetarian” should not be rejected in the same way. Thus, my reasoning behind the construction of this ad was how to make this ad better. I tried to think of ways where I could use the elements of the original ad to play with the idea of “vegetarianism as sexy,” in a clearer and non offensive way.
Keeping the problems in mind, I modified this ad in two main ways:
1) I tried to change the casual logic from the original ad, which is “the body is vegetarian and is thus sexy” to “vegetarianism as sexy in itself”. I covered the model in a blanket of chilli peppers which reassembled her lying in a bed of them. The caption “So hot you can make a bed out of it” speaks to the hotness of the chilli peppers or the attractiveness of vegetables as the main focus of the ad rather than nudity.
2) I changed the word order from the original ad and placed the words “Go Vegetarian” first and in a larger font because it is the main message. If we were to delete the “Go Vegetarian” part and cover the Peta logo of the original ad, we would not know what the ad is about. However, if we removed these aspects from the spoofed ad, it would still be about vegetables!
CONCLUSION: A SIDE-BY-SIDE COMPARISON
THE BODY IS SEXY BECAUSE IT IS VEGETARIAN—->>>
VEGETARIANISM IS SEXY BECAUSE VEGETABLES ARE HOT