Animal rights advocacy group Peta has long used gratuitous sex appeal in its campaigns, but its latest effort, which landed at No. 10 on this week's Viral Video chart, with 934,000 views, may have set a new benchmark for tackiness.
For better or worse, it looks like it worked.
As reported heavily last week, the always-incendiary nonprofit group has invented a "disorder" it's calling BWVAKTBOOM to help sell young people on the benefits of a vegan diet. (Spelled out, it means, charmingly, "Boyfriend went vegan and knocked the bottom out of me.") The lead spot depicts a woman in a neck brace limping down the street and carrying a bag of vegetables as solemn piano music plays. We learn she's suffering from "a painful condition that occurs when boyfriends go vegan and can suddenly bring it like a tantric porn star." So much for subtext.
The campaign includes nine other confessional-style videos from young people with bumps, bruises and sprains -- all the result of the increased sexual stamina their partners experience after switching to vegan diets.
Peta tried to peddle this message in a low-budget, highly sexual 2009 Super Bowl spot titled "Veggie Love", but it was deemed too suggestive for prime time. So Peta's determination to be even more crass in an attempt to go viral appears to have been a sound strategy.
Those criticizing this campaign say it trivializes domestic violence -- even sexual abuse. (Some would object to categorizing rough sex that 's consensual as "domestic violence," but that 's a different argument.) Peta is backing into this premise with some scattered studies that connect impotence and lack of stamina with heart disease and high cholesterol, which are often linked to a diet that includes large amounts of animal fat. The campaign's core claim -- that being vegan makes a person a dramatically better lover -- isn't supported by concrete evidence, but its target audience of sex-obsessed millennials might overlook that detail.
Meanwhile, the Viral Video Chart remains dominated by Super Bowl success stories, with M&Ms. cheeky "Just My Shell" No. 1, with 4.6 million views. And Chipotle's first spot, "Back to the Start," which hit the web last fall and had a well-received television debut during the Grammys, finally made the chart this week at No. 5, with 1.1 million views.