With the 54th Super Bowl taking place this past Sunday, nearly everyone looks forward to seeing what humorous and powerful messages will be sent during commercial breaks from companies who get the chance to advertise during one of the most-watched, televised events in the US.
Marketing and creative teams for companies go the extra mile to ensure that viewers across the country will remember their few seconds of fame in between the big game. But animal rights organization, PETA definitely missed the mark with their commercial.
Their commercial that they claim the NFL rejected from being played on FOX channel is distasteful and a cringe-worthy sight. What the organization calls “paying homage” to former San Francisco 49er’s quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, was definitely interpreted by many as disrespectful to Kaepernick.
The commercial features digitized animals kneeling while the National Anthem is played in the background. The commercial ends with the quote “respect is the right of every human being” and the hashtag #EndSpeciesism
Kaepernick, aside from his football career, is well known for his act of peaceful protest that first began in late 2016.
By kneeling during the National Anthem at football games, Kaepernick hoped to bring attention to police brutality, a very pressing issue that many minorities but specifically Black men and women face around the nation.
But after opting out of his contract in 2017, which many believe to be due to being blackballed by the NFL, Kaepernick has continued to support his act of protest almost four years later. No NFL team has drafted him and it is an ongoing battle but despite how many people tried to change the narrative of his protest, the fact remains that it did indeed bring some attention to police brutality.
Now once again we see another company attempting to change the narrative of his message from the nation holding police accountable for their unequal practices to fighting animal discrimination.
Animal abuse is a different conversation that could’ve been highlighted without appropriating Kaepernick’s message and downplaying his message.
Stealing other political movements message is not a new occurrence in this country. Far too often, those who have not sacrificed for a cause, will take one message on injustice and use it for another without considering how it can undermine the hard work of men and women who sacrificed to create those messages in the first place.
Twitter users replied to PETA’s post of the commercial wondering why they would think it’s okay to go that route with their commercial. PETA responded to many users saying that they believed in bringing awareness to all types of injustice and were inspired by Kaepernick’s protest. And although the costly 60-second commercial won’t be aired on FOX, the organization stands by their ad.
As someone who doesn’t believe in the “struggle Olympics”, competing to see who has it worse in life, I think that the commercial brings an instant comparison of both injustices. Because of this comparison, it’s fair to say that comparing the treatment of animals to Black people is insensitive and especially tone-deaf coming from an organization that focuses on injustice.
Moving forward, continuing to hold companies and organizations accountable for their insensitivity to the sacrifices people make to start national and global movements must be a priority from us all.