Too Cute To Eat?
The perpetrators of the preposterous are at it again. This time, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is trying to persuade children to visualize fish as cuddly "sea kittens."
Launched last week, the marketing campaign features a Web Site, riddled with cartoon illustrations of sea kittens, anti-fishing propaganda and sea kitten merchandise. Kids can even design their very own sea kitten, dress it, name it and e-mail it to friends. (I e-mailed my lipstick-drenched sea kitten, which I dubbed "C.J.," to PETA advocate and actress Pamela Anderson, but I haven't heard back from her yet.)
PETA is even asking academic institutions with fish-oriented names or mascots to scrap their identities and go with "sea kittens" instead, including the Palm Beach (Fla.) Atlantic University Fightin' Sailfish, Spearfish (S.D.) High School and Whitefish (Mont.) High School.
The Norfolk, Va.-based animal-rights organization is known for its outrageous activism and media savvy. Its mantra is to develop a campaign so outlandish that people can't help but talk about it and editors can't help but cover it. (I suppose this makes me guilty, too.)
About 367,000 U.S. youngsters (or 1 in 200) call themselves vegetarians, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey released last week, the U.S. government's first-ever crack at quantifying the adolescent vegetarian population. Will PETA's latest ploy convince more kids to go vegetarian because the Alaska pollock in their fish sticks are apparently as sentient and personable as their pet cat? Doubtful.
But don't take PETA, which has more than 2 million members and a $30 million annual budget, too lightly. The best way to fight the group's anti-seafood message - and to get kids to eat your products - is to tell your story in your advertising and on your packaging and Web site. Inform kids - and, moreover, parents - that seafood is nutritious, vital to heart health and neurological development.
Because if you don't reach out to children, PETA will.