Self-proclaimed animal activists Ingrid Newkirk and Alex Pacheco founded it in Norfolk, Virginia in 1980. Newkirk was Washington D.C.’s first female poundmaster, and Pacheco was a crewman for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS).
("Whale Wars," the reality-based show on Animal Planet, documents the SSCS' high-seas fight against whaling; the show's site proclaims it tells the story of “42 crazy die-hards with a mission.”)
PETA, like religion and politics, is not a subject for polite conversation.
While many supporters are devoted animal fans who fund beneficial programs (adoption, spaying/neutering, and euthanasia for diseased animals), the organization’s controversial tactics are criticized constantly, and the group has been tied to numerous criminal investigations.
The Center for Consumer Freedom states PETA is "by far the most successful radical organization in America." Activist Cash, a watchdog group that investigates radical anti-consumer organizations and activists, found that PETA supports the Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front. According to the FBI, both groups “are responsible for more than 600 crimes since 1996, causing (by a conservative FBI estimate) more than $43 million in damage.” PETA acknowledges their support.
While I don’t believe in animal cruelty, I don’t subscribe to the PETA agenda either. I admire their dedication but feel it’s misdirected. It's too bad they’re not fighting for human rights or against crime with the same intensity.
The organization’s ability to capitalize on high-profile support and their ability to deliver messages, despite being banned for numerous reasons by paid media using publicity, social media, and public relations, also impresses me.
On July 15, Canadian officials banned pro-vegetarianism ads featuring bikini-clad Pamela Anderson depicted as meat. The labels support the ad's tagline: "All Animals have the same parts. Have a heart. Go vegetarian."
US Weekly reported Anderson was in Montreal to unveil the campaign when PETA received notice of the ban. This comes as nothing new; many PETA ads have been banned. This year alone, the organization’s failed advertising attempts range from the Super Bowl (below) to Southwest Airlines.
The truth is the ads don’t fail. Expecting controversy, PETA gears PR messages for industry trade sites, blogs, and e-zines (due to the celebrity or politician involved). Controversy sparks interest and increases search results, Twitter trends, and social bookmarking. Video sites run the content, while ad industry-related sites add to the ad’s growing reach.
Although their ads were banned, PETA used the tools available to switch directions and execute. In doing so, they reached millions.
You have to respect their thinking and implementation of their efforts, not to mention the creative nature of the ads, which often parody society ("MilkGone Wild," "Wrong Meeting," and "Spay/Neuter").