CareerBuilder's decision to use live chimps in its internally-made Super Bowl XLVI spot provoked an outcry from animal advocates. Eighteen different ad agencies by that point had agreed to stop using great apes in the commercials they produce, the result of an ongoing effort started in 2008 by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Among them were Omnicom Group's BBDO, GSD&M and Merkley & Partners; Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson, DraftFCB and RPA; Havas' Arnold and Euro RSCG; WPP's Grey Group, Ogilvy & Mather, Young & Rubicam and JWT; and Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi and Leo Burnett.
CareerBuilder, one of the few national advertisers still using apes in commercials, told Forbes before the game, “During the production of our ad, we followed the strictest guidelines to ensure our chimpanzee stars were treated well and not harmed in any way. We hired top trainers known to provide the highest standard of care for their animals. We also had a member of an animal-rights group, the American Humane Association, on set during the entire filming to ensure the chimpanzees were treated with respect.”
But Anjelica Huston, writing on behalf of PETA, sent an open letter to CareerBuilder CEO Matt Ferguson asking the company to cease use of the great apes in advertising. "Having a monitor on the set does not forgive the fact that you have paid to have these bright and social young apes torn from their mothers and subjected to confusing and often abusive training,” she wrote. “These animals will likely be sold after a few years to some cheap roadside zoo or traveling show, where they will be condemned to cramped cages, left to suffer from extreme loneliness and sink into despair. And for what?”
On the creative front, the spot returned to the theme from the company's memorable efforts in 2005 and 2006: chimpanzees as obstinate, time-wasting cubicle-mates who demonstrate the need for CareerBuilder's online job listings. Directed by Bryan Buckley, once deemed the “30-second Auteur” by The New York Times and who broke down his Super Bowl oeuvre for Ad Age in 2012.
Production company: Hungry Man. Creative director/art director: Matt McIntyre. Creative director/copywriter: Jeff Martin. Producer: Ben Latimer. Editorial: Beast. Editor: John Dingfield.Send credit info to [email protected].