Marketing Animals - Antennae The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture

Marketing Animals - Antennae The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture

Marketing Animals - Antennae The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture


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<strong>Antennae</strong><br />

Issue 23 - W<strong>in</strong>ter 2012<br />

ISSN 1756-9575<br />

<strong>Market<strong>in</strong>g</strong> <strong>Animals</strong><br />

Adele Tiengo and Matteo Andreozzi – Eat Me Tender / Barbara J. Phillips – Advertis<strong>in</strong>g and the Cultural Mean<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> <strong>Animals</strong> / Adele Tiengo and Leonardo Caffo –<br />

Animal Subjects: Local Exploitation, Slow Kill<strong>in</strong>g / Claire Molloy – Remediat<strong>in</strong>g Cows and the Construction <strong>of</strong> Ethical Landscape / Concepcion Cortes Zulueta – His<br />

Master’s Voice / Cluny South – <strong>The</strong> Tiger <strong>in</strong> the Tank / Iwan rhys Morus – Bovril by Electrocution / Louise Squire – <strong>The</strong> <strong>Animals</strong> Are “Break<strong>in</strong>g Out”! / Gene Gable –<br />

Can You Say, “Awww”? / Sonja Britz – Evolution and Design / Hilda Kean – Nervous Dogs Need Adm<strong>in</strong>, Son! / Kather<strong>in</strong>e Bennet – A Stony Field / John Miller -- Brooke’s<br />

1<br />

Monkey Brand Soap / Sunsan Nance – Jumbo: A Capitalist Creation Story / Kelly Enright – None Tougher / L<strong>in</strong>da Kal<strong>of</strong> and Joe Zammit-Lucia – From Animal Rights and<br />

Shock Advocacy to K<strong>in</strong>ship With <strong>Animals</strong> / Natalie Gilbert – Fad <strong>of</strong> the Year / Jeremy Smallwood and Pam Mufson by Chris Hunter – <strong>The</strong> Saddest Show on Earth /<br />

Sabr<strong>in</strong>a Tonutti – Happy Easter / Bett<strong>in</strong>a Richter – <strong>Animals</strong> on the Runway / Susan Nance – ‘Works Progress Adm<strong>in</strong>istration’ Posters / Emma Power -- Kill ‘em dead!”<br />

the Ord<strong>in</strong>ary Practices <strong>of</strong> Pest Control <strong>in</strong> the Home

<strong>Antennae</strong><br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Journal</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>Nature</strong> <strong>in</strong> <strong>Visual</strong> <strong>Culture</strong><br />

Editor <strong>in</strong> Chief<br />

Giovanni Aloi<br />

Academic Board<br />

Steve Baker<br />

Ron Broglio<br />

Matthew Brower<br />

Eric Brown<br />

Carol Gigliotti<br />

Donna Haraway<br />

L<strong>in</strong>da Kal<strong>of</strong><br />

Susan McHugh<br />

Rachel Poliqu<strong>in</strong><br />

Annie Potts<br />

Ken R<strong>in</strong>aldo<br />

Jessica Ullrich<br />

Advisory Board<br />

Bergit Arends<br />

Rod Bennison<br />

Helen Bullard<br />

Claude d’Anthenaise<br />

Petra Lange-Berndt<br />

Lisa Brown<br />

Rikke Hansen<br />

Chris Hunter<br />

Karen Knorr<br />

Rosemarie McGoldrick<br />

Susan Nance<br />

Andrea Roe<br />

David Rothenberg<br />

Nigel Rothfels<br />

Angela S<strong>in</strong>ger<br />

Mark Wilson & Bryndís Snaebjornsdottir<br />

Global Contributors<br />

João Bento & Catar<strong>in</strong>a Fontoura<br />

Sonja Britz<br />

Tim Chamberla<strong>in</strong><br />

Concepción Cortes<br />

Lucy Davis<br />

Amy Fletcher<br />

Katja Kynast<br />

Christ<strong>in</strong>e Marran<br />

Carol<strong>in</strong>a Parra<br />

Zoe Peled<br />

Julien Salaud<br />

Paul Thomas<br />

Sabr<strong>in</strong>a Tonutti<br />

Johanna Willenfelt<br />

Copy Editor<br />

Maia Wentrup<br />

Front Cover Image: Orig<strong>in</strong>al image - Pirelli, Atlante, 1954 © Pirelli<br />




T<br />

his issue <strong>of</strong> <strong>Antennae</strong> was developed around the idea that advertis<strong>in</strong>g can be much more than<br />

a pivotal market<strong>in</strong>g tool <strong>in</strong> capitalist societies. Over the past few years, through the <strong>in</strong>creased<br />

popularity <strong>of</strong> social networks advertis<strong>in</strong>g strategies have more and more come to play a pivotal<br />

role <strong>in</strong> communication and can be understood as a cultural thermometer <strong>of</strong> our identities and desires.<br />

<strong>The</strong> conspicuous presence <strong>of</strong> animals <strong>in</strong> advertis<strong>in</strong>g is therefore a phenomenon that deserves study; it<br />

is not a new phenomenon <strong>in</strong> itself but it is one that nonetheless demands renewed attention and<br />

scrut<strong>in</strong>y through a human-animal studies lens. Whether photographed, illustrated, animated or filmed<br />

the ambivalent presence <strong>of</strong> the animal, <strong>in</strong>itially seems to facilitate the delivery <strong>of</strong> consumeristic<br />

messages. However, th<strong>in</strong>gs are much more complex. What does the animal sell to us and what do we<br />

effectively buy through these <strong>in</strong>stances <strong>of</strong> visual consumption? What role does the animal play <strong>in</strong> the<br />

persuasions processes enacted by advertisements?<br />

In the attempt to provide some answers to these questions and more, besides a traditional call<br />

for academic papers, <strong>Antennae</strong> also solicited short commentaries on advertisements chosen by our<br />

readers and contributors. <strong>The</strong> colourful variety <strong>of</strong> examples submitted contributes to the outl<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> an<br />

extremely diverse range <strong>of</strong> animal appearances <strong>in</strong> advertis<strong>in</strong>g greatly vary<strong>in</strong>g on the grounds <strong>of</strong> what is<br />

to be sold and which target audiences are to persuade. <strong>The</strong>se shorter entries have been <strong>in</strong>terposed<br />

between longer and more complex analyses <strong>of</strong> specific animal presences <strong>in</strong> advertis<strong>in</strong>g. One <strong>of</strong> the<br />

unexpected result gathered from the collection <strong>of</strong> the excellent submissions we received, highlights a<br />

perhaps not too surpris<strong>in</strong>g, current, overrid<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>terest for mammals aga<strong>in</strong>st any other animal group.<br />

Anthropomorphism may be an <strong>in</strong>evitable expedient essential to the success <strong>of</strong> the identification<br />

process ly<strong>in</strong>g at the core <strong>of</strong> all advertis<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>tend<strong>in</strong>g to sell us commodities. This is rather well<br />

demonstrated through the publication <strong>of</strong> a portfolio <strong>of</strong> v<strong>in</strong>tage adverts with which this issue comes to a<br />

close. For this essential contribution we have to thank Nigel Rothfels who on a warm June afternoon <strong>in</strong><br />

2011 walk<strong>in</strong>g lazily around the streets <strong>of</strong> Zurich came across a very unusual archive. As Nigel recalls, “I<br />

was <strong>in</strong> the city to attend a small conference on science and before long, I found myself star<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>to<br />

the w<strong>in</strong>dows <strong>of</strong> the Swiss National Bank! A quite fasc<strong>in</strong>at<strong>in</strong>g exhibit had been organized <strong>in</strong> the w<strong>in</strong>dows<br />

by staff at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich focus<strong>in</strong>g on the history <strong>of</strong> animals appear<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> advertis<strong>in</strong>g<br />

posters. I went from w<strong>in</strong>dow to w<strong>in</strong>dow enjoy<strong>in</strong>g the posters and tak<strong>in</strong>g pictures. Through the generosity<br />

<strong>of</strong> Dr. Bett<strong>in</strong>a Richter and Allesia Cont<strong>in</strong> at the Museum, we are now able to br<strong>in</strong>g a selection <strong>of</strong> this<br />

rarely seen and remarkable collection to <strong>Antennae</strong>’s readers”.<br />

Besides consider<strong>in</strong>g a range <strong>of</strong> well known and lesser know advertisements, this issue also looks<br />

at the more ethically driven consideration <strong>of</strong> the use <strong>of</strong> animal imagery <strong>in</strong> the advertisements<br />

produced by animal advocacy and conservation organisations through a thought-provok<strong>in</strong>g piece by<br />

Joe Zammit-Lucia and L<strong>in</strong>da Kal<strong>of</strong>, whilst an <strong>in</strong>terview with creative teams at Young & Rubicam<br />

Chicago demonstrates how the presence <strong>of</strong> animals <strong>in</strong> advertis<strong>in</strong>g can be used to the advantage <strong>of</strong><br />

animals through some astonish<strong>in</strong>gly simple but impressive communicational <strong>in</strong>ventiveness.<br />

Lastly I would like to take the opportunity to thank all <strong>in</strong>volved <strong>in</strong> the mak<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> this issue <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>Antennae</strong>.<br />

Giovanni Aloi<br />

Editor <strong>in</strong> Chief <strong>of</strong> <strong>Antennae</strong> Project<br />




6 Eat Me Tender<br />

Love can be dangerous when it comes to cook<strong>in</strong>g. In this image, the evidence that a ‘lover’ wants to possess his woman just like a ‘meat lover’ wants to eat his steak is<br />

exposed <strong>in</strong> a grotesque way. Sexist discrim<strong>in</strong>ation and animal exploitation are here associated to ‘love’, understood as an abuse mitigated by tenderness and care <strong>in</strong> the act<br />

<strong>of</strong> possess<strong>in</strong>g and kill<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

Text by Adele Tiengo and Matteo Andreozzi<br />

9 Advertis<strong>in</strong>g and the Cultural Mean<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> <strong>Animals</strong><br />

One explanation for the proliferation <strong>of</strong> animal trade characters <strong>in</strong> current advertis<strong>in</strong>g practice proposes that they are effective communication tools because they can be used<br />

to transfer desirable cultural mean<strong>in</strong>gs to products with which they are associated. <strong>The</strong> first step <strong>in</strong> exam<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g what messages these animals communicate is to explore the<br />

common cultural mean<strong>in</strong>gs that they embody. This paper presents a qualitative analysis <strong>of</strong> the common themes found <strong>in</strong> the cultural mean<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>of</strong> four animal characters. In<br />

addition, it demonstrates a method by which cultural mean<strong>in</strong>gs can be elicited. <strong>The</strong> implications <strong>of</strong> this method for advertis<strong>in</strong>g research and practice are discussed.<br />

Text by Barbara J. Phillips<br />

20 Animal Subjects: Local Exploitation, Slow Kill<strong>in</strong>g<br />

<strong>The</strong> city <strong>of</strong> Milan will host Expo 2015, with the theme “Feed<strong>in</strong>g the Planet. Energy for Life”. In view <strong>of</strong> this occasion, the <strong>in</strong>terest for cul<strong>in</strong>ary tradition and the global challenge<br />

<strong>of</strong> food security is rapidly grow<strong>in</strong>g. Farm<strong>in</strong>g and livestock rais<strong>in</strong>g traditions plays a major role <strong>in</strong> Italy, homeland <strong>of</strong> the worldwide renowned Slow Food.<br />

Text by Adele Tiengo and Leonardo Caffo<br />

23 Remediat<strong>in</strong>g Cows and the Construction <strong>of</strong> Ethical Landscape<br />

Concern about the impact <strong>of</strong> livestock on the environment has generated debates about how best to manage dairy farm<strong>in</strong>g practices. Soil erosion and compaction and loss <strong>of</strong><br />

biodiversity from graz<strong>in</strong>g and silage production, ammonia and methane emissions, as well as high levels <strong>of</strong> water consumption, have all been identified as direct effects on the<br />

environment from dairy farm<strong>in</strong>g activity. [i] Whilst the issues have been well reported <strong>in</strong> the press, there has been little <strong>in</strong> the way <strong>of</strong> imagery to accompany the environmental<br />

critique <strong>of</strong> milk production. Instead, much <strong>of</strong> the popularly available imagery <strong>of</strong> dairy farm<strong>in</strong>g has been generated by advertis<strong>in</strong>g which cont<strong>in</strong>ues to deploy culturally-specific<br />

visions <strong>of</strong> contented cows <strong>in</strong> rural landscapes.<br />

Text by Claire Molloy<br />

28 His Master’s Voice<br />

A white dog with brown ears sits <strong>in</strong> front <strong>of</strong> a gramophone, head directed to its brass-horn and slightly tilted to one side. <strong>The</strong> orig<strong>in</strong>al pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g was purchased <strong>in</strong> 1899, along<br />

with its full copyright, by the emerg<strong>in</strong>g Gramophone Company from the artist Francis Barraud.<br />

Text by Concepcion Cortes Zulueta<br />

31 <strong>The</strong> Tiger <strong>in</strong> the Tank<br />

Despite the complexities and <strong>in</strong>constancies <strong>of</strong> the human-animal relationship non-human animals [1] have been <strong>in</strong>timately <strong>in</strong>terwoven with<strong>in</strong> human culture for thousands <strong>of</strong><br />

years. Representations <strong>of</strong> animals exist across many mediums, with roots clearly visible <strong>in</strong> Palaeolithic cave pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>gs and early carv<strong>in</strong>gs, evolv<strong>in</strong>g human language, music and<br />

drama, and narrative fables and folk stories. Unsurpris<strong>in</strong>gly then animal representations cont<strong>in</strong>ue to be rife throughout our modern lives and across much popular media.<br />

Text by Cluny South<br />

39 Bovril by Electrocution<br />

I first came across this illustration whilst brows<strong>in</strong>g through Leonard de Vries’s fasc<strong>in</strong>at<strong>in</strong>g collection, Victorian Advertis<strong>in</strong>g, about twelve years ago. I was look<strong>in</strong>g for someth<strong>in</strong>g<br />

else at the time – examples <strong>of</strong> late Victorian electric belt advertisements as part <strong>of</strong> a project on n<strong>in</strong>eteenth-century medical electricity. Instead, this one jumped out <strong>of</strong> the<br />

page at me.<br />

Text by Iwan Rhys Morus<br />

42 <strong>The</strong> <strong>Animals</strong> Are “Break<strong>in</strong>g Out”!<br />

This paper explores recent TV adverts <strong>in</strong> which the animals portrayed come to appear before us <strong>in</strong> new ways. Gone are cosy images <strong>of</strong> chimpanzees play<strong>in</strong>g house, wear<strong>in</strong>g<br />

flat-caps and frocks, and pour<strong>in</strong>g cups <strong>of</strong> tea. <strong>The</strong> animals are break<strong>in</strong>g out! Mary, the cow (Muller yoghurt), is “set free” on a beach to fulfil her dream <strong>of</strong> becom<strong>in</strong>g a horse.<br />

More cows (Anchor butter) have taken charge <strong>of</strong> the dairy.<br />

Text by Louise Squire<br />

49 Can You Say, “Awww”?<br />

<strong>Animals</strong> have long been a regular theme <strong>in</strong> advertis<strong>in</strong>g, especially when anthropomorphized. Except for obvious ties to products like dog food and pet products, animals<br />

usually have noth<strong>in</strong>g to do with the goods or services advertised, but we connect with them and the products nonetheless, and we get a good feel<strong>in</strong>g when a company is<br />

associated with cute animals.<br />

Text by Gene Gable<br />

51 Evolution and Design<br />

<strong>The</strong> animal as sign has a long evolutionary history, but with the onset <strong>of</strong> cultural modernity it began to assume new semiotic forms. Foucault describes a new field <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>in</strong>creased visibility that emerged <strong>in</strong> the eighteenth century which gave rise to a complex semiotic system with<strong>in</strong> which the sign began to take on a life <strong>of</strong> its own. If images<br />

could be regarded as liv<strong>in</strong>g organisms, how could this affect their representational values <strong>in</strong> society? And, what are the implications for the lives and representation <strong>of</strong> animals?<br />

Text by Sonja Britz<br />

61 Nervous Dogs Need Adm<strong>in</strong>, Son!<br />

This advert comes from a British magaz<strong>in</strong>e <strong>The</strong> Tail Wagger, October 1940. <strong>The</strong> Tail- Waggers Club had been founded <strong>in</strong> 1928 to promote dog welfare stat<strong>in</strong>g, ‘<strong>The</strong> love<br />

<strong>of</strong> animals, and especially <strong>of</strong> dogs, is <strong>in</strong>herent <strong>in</strong> nearly all Britishers’ and by 1930 numbered some 300,000 members. [i] All dogs were eligible for membership, not just those<br />

from established breeds. By July 1930 it had become a general legal requirement that all dogs should wear collars and the club and magaz<strong>in</strong>e endorsed such measures. [ii]<br />

Text by Hilda Kean<br />

64 A Stony Field<br />

Brand representations proliferate reflexive identities <strong>of</strong> their producers and consumers. <strong>The</strong>se self-advertisements re<strong>in</strong>scribe commodified identities reproductively back onto the<br />

subjects and objects – the represented figures – <strong>of</strong> consumption. In this paper I argue that the cooption <strong>of</strong> identity politics by mult<strong>in</strong>ational corporations like Stonyfield Farm,<br />

Inc. operates with<strong>in</strong> material and virtual doma<strong>in</strong>s that conceal fetishized processes <strong>of</strong> consumption.<br />

Text by Kather<strong>in</strong>e Bennett<br />

80 Brooke’s Monkey Brand Soap<br />

Brooke’s Monkey Brand Soap was a common, even iconic, presence <strong>in</strong> the pages <strong>of</strong> late n<strong>in</strong>eteenth-century illustrated newspapers <strong>in</strong> Brita<strong>in</strong>. Barely an issue <strong>of</strong> the London<br />

Illustrated News, <strong>The</strong> Graphic or <strong>The</strong> Sketch passed without a full or half page spread <strong>of</strong> Brooke’s ubiquitous monkey, arrayed <strong>in</strong> one <strong>of</strong> its many baffl<strong>in</strong>g guises:<br />

promenad<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> top hat and tails, juggl<strong>in</strong>g cook<strong>in</strong>g pots <strong>in</strong> a jester’s get-up, strumm<strong>in</strong>g a mandol<strong>in</strong> on the moon, destitute and begg<strong>in</strong>g by the side <strong>of</strong> the road, kneel<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

accept a medal from a glamorous Frenchwoman, career<strong>in</strong>g along on a bicycle with feet on the handle-bars, cl<strong>in</strong>g<strong>in</strong>g precariously to a ship’s mast, carefully polish<strong>in</strong>g the family<br />

ch<strong>in</strong>a and here <strong>in</strong> 1891, slid<strong>in</strong>g gleefully down the banisters with legs spread wide and the h<strong>in</strong>t <strong>of</strong> a smile while two neat Victorian children watch calmly on.<br />

Text by John Miller<br />


83 Jumbo: A Capitalist Creation Story<br />

Today, a pr<strong>of</strong>usion <strong>of</strong> non-human animals <strong>in</strong>habit the world <strong>of</strong> advertis<strong>in</strong>g. Consumers see some <strong>of</strong> them <strong>in</strong> person and some as brand icons, team mascots, and other moregeneric<br />

endorsers <strong>of</strong> consumption (sometimes their own consumption, like pig characters decorat<strong>in</strong>g BBQ restaurants or matronly cows on dairy product packag<strong>in</strong>g)<br />

embellish<strong>in</strong>g countless products, services and enterta<strong>in</strong>ments. This zoological cornucopia provides a naturaliz<strong>in</strong>g l<strong>in</strong>k to the non-human world, promis<strong>in</strong>g us that to absorb<br />

advertis<strong>in</strong>g messages and spend is to participate <strong>in</strong> an <strong>in</strong>evitable and emotionally authentic activity because, as the belief goes, animals don’t lie (Shuk<strong>in</strong> 2009, 3-5).<br />

Text by Susan Nance<br />

95 None Tougher<br />

Rh<strong>in</strong>oceroses are rarely anthropomorphized mak<strong>in</strong>g this American magaz<strong>in</strong>e advertisement from the 1950s an unusual specimen. Armstrong, a rubber and tire company,<br />

found the tough exterior <strong>of</strong> rh<strong>in</strong>oceroses the prime comparison for its most durable automobile tires, dubbed “Rh<strong>in</strong>o-Flex.”<br />

Text by Kelly Enright<br />

98 From Animal Rights and Shock Advocacy to K<strong>in</strong>ship with <strong>Animals</strong><br />

<strong>The</strong> visual cultures manifested <strong>in</strong> the advertis<strong>in</strong>g and communication activities <strong>of</strong> animal rights activists and those concerned with the conservation <strong>of</strong> species may<br />

be counter-productive, creat<strong>in</strong>g an ever-<strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>g cultural distance between the human and the animal. By cont<strong>in</strong>u<strong>in</strong>g to position animals as subjugated,<br />

exploitable others, or as creatures that belong <strong>in</strong> a romanticized ‘nature’ separate from the human, communications campaigns may achieve effects that are<br />

contrary to those desired. <strong>The</strong> unashamed, cheaply voyeuristic nature <strong>of</strong> shock imagery may w<strong>in</strong> headl<strong>in</strong>es while worsen<strong>in</strong>g the overall position <strong>of</strong> the animal <strong>in</strong><br />

human culture. We <strong>of</strong>fer an alternative way <strong>of</strong> th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g about visual communication concern<strong>in</strong>g animals – one that is focused on enhanc<strong>in</strong>g a sense <strong>of</strong> k<strong>in</strong>ship<br />

with animals. Based on empirical evidence, we suggest that cont<strong>in</strong>ued progress both <strong>in</strong> conservation and <strong>in</strong> animal rights does not depend on cont<strong>in</strong>ued<br />

castigation <strong>of</strong> the human but rather on embedd<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> our cultures the type <strong>of</strong> human-animal relationship on which positive change can be built.<br />

Text by Joe Zammit-Lucia and L<strong>in</strong>da Kal<strong>of</strong><br />

112 Fad <strong>of</strong> the Year<br />

At the end <strong>of</strong> 2010 one <strong>of</strong> the UK’s commercial television channels, ITV, selected twenty <strong>of</strong> the most popular TV adverts from the year and entered them <strong>in</strong> to their own<br />

competition to f<strong>in</strong>d the television ‘Ad <strong>of</strong> the Year’. <strong>The</strong> w<strong>in</strong>n<strong>in</strong>g advert was one featur<strong>in</strong>g a rescue dog called Harvey who is <strong>in</strong> kennels, hop<strong>in</strong>g somebody will come along and<br />

adopt him.<br />

Text by Natalie Gilbert<br />

114 <strong>The</strong> Saddest Show on Earth<br />

S<strong>in</strong>ce 1884, children across the United States have been dazzled by the sequ<strong>in</strong>ed wonders <strong>of</strong> the R<strong>in</strong>gl<strong>in</strong>g Bros. Circus. For many a youngster the spectacle <strong>of</strong> costumed<br />

elephants perform<strong>in</strong>g myriad tricks under the big top is a highlight <strong>of</strong> the show. Yet the bright spotlight <strong>of</strong> the center r<strong>in</strong>g casts a dark shadow across this American <strong>in</strong>stitution.<br />

Persistent allegations <strong>of</strong> elephant abuse have trailed the travell<strong>in</strong>g show for years.<br />

Text and <strong>in</strong>terview questions to Jeremy Smallwood and Pam Mufson by Chris Hunter<br />

120 Happy Easter<br />

Even if we are talk<strong>in</strong>g about this image as an “advertisement”, it is clear that its scope is not bus<strong>in</strong>ess, but to <strong>in</strong>form and raise consciousness about the slaughter<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong><br />

animals. <strong>The</strong> message itself is rather peculiar: it’s obviously about animals, but without <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g any image <strong>of</strong> them <strong>in</strong> the picture. If a contradiction exists, it has noth<strong>in</strong>g to do<br />

with the message conveyed by the advertisement, but rather with ambiguous attitudes <strong>of</strong> humans towards animals. In this case, it’s the lambs who are not portrayed <strong>in</strong> the<br />

advertisement.<br />

Text by Sabr<strong>in</strong>a Tonutti<br />

123 <strong>Animals</strong> on the Runway<br />

<strong>The</strong> discussion <strong>of</strong> animals <strong>in</strong> graphic art has radically changed s<strong>in</strong>ce about 1950. In contemporary performances and <strong>in</strong>stallations, even liv<strong>in</strong>g animals are displayed, which<br />

<strong>of</strong>ten leads to ethical discussions. Recent work, however, reflects a new societal view <strong>of</strong> animals: A strictly anthropocentric view has had its day, now animals have come to be<br />

seen as equal creatures and have emancipated themselves <strong>in</strong> artistic representation.<br />

Text by Bett<strong>in</strong>a Richter<br />

132 ‘Works Progress Adm<strong>in</strong>istration’ Posters<br />

In 1933 and 1934, as part <strong>of</strong> the “New Deal” economic plan for the United States, President Frankl<strong>in</strong> Roosevelt’s adm<strong>in</strong>istration created a new federal agency called the<br />

Works Progress Adm<strong>in</strong>istration (WPA) to hire artists to document and promote American cultural life.<br />

Text by Susan Nance<br />

136 Kill ‘em dead!: the Ord<strong>in</strong>ary Practices <strong>of</strong> Pest Control <strong>in</strong> the Home<br />

In recent years critical animal geographies have po<strong>in</strong>ted to dearth <strong>of</strong> stories about the small, the microscopic, the slimy and the abject. <strong>The</strong> exoskeleton, though pa<strong>in</strong>fully<br />

present to anyone bitten by a bedbug or disgusted by a cockroach, has been all but absent <strong>in</strong> dom<strong>in</strong>ant animal geographies. Death and the kill<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> animals is a further<br />

notable absence. However, this scholarly absence is not parallel with<strong>in</strong> the popular imag<strong>in</strong>ation, where cockroaches, files and dust mites loom large at the centre <strong>of</strong> a<br />

homemak<strong>in</strong>g war focused on the eradication <strong>of</strong> house pests.<br />

Text by Emma Power<br />


S<br />

<strong>in</strong>ce the Sixties, ec<strong>of</strong>em<strong>in</strong>ist philosophical<br />

th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g has been underl<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g the strong<br />

connection between sexist discrim<strong>in</strong>ation,<br />

exploitation <strong>of</strong> nonhuman animals, and abuse <strong>of</strong><br />

natural resources. <strong>The</strong>se three phenomena have<br />

been seen as so deeply <strong>in</strong>terconnected, both<br />

conceptually and historically, that they can be<br />

adequately understood and handled only as a<br />

s<strong>in</strong>gle question. What the ec<strong>of</strong>em<strong>in</strong>ists state –<br />

and the image presented <strong>in</strong> this advert confirms<br />

– is that <strong>in</strong> Western patriarchal civilization,<br />

women, nonhuman animals, and the<br />

environment are categories related to ‘animated<br />

properties’, or ‘mobile goods’.<br />

How should these logically fallacious and<br />

discrim<strong>in</strong>atory messages be handled, criticized,<br />

and discouraged? <strong>The</strong> ec<strong>of</strong>em<strong>in</strong>ist philosopher<br />

Val Plumwood suggests to contrast the<br />

patriarchal conceptual framework through a<br />

careful work <strong>of</strong> revaluation, celebration, and<br />

defense <strong>of</strong> what male dom<strong>in</strong>ion subdues. On<br />

the one hand, dichotomical metaphors<br />

underrate the fem<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>e as related to corporeality,<br />

emotions, <strong>in</strong>tuitiveness, cooperation, care, and<br />

sympathy; on the other hand, the mascul<strong>in</strong>e is<br />

celebrated as related to opposed concept,<br />

such as rationality, <strong>in</strong>tellect, competition,<br />

dom<strong>in</strong>ion, and apathy (Plumwood, 1992).<br />

6<br />


Love can be dangerous when it comes to cook<strong>in</strong>g. In this image, the evidence that a ‘lover’ wants to possess his<br />

woman just like a ‘meat lover’ wants to eat his steak is exposed <strong>in</strong> a grotesque way. Sexist discrim<strong>in</strong>ation and<br />

animal exploitation are here associated to ‘love’, understood as an abuse mitigated by tenderness and care <strong>in</strong> the<br />

act <strong>of</strong> possess<strong>in</strong>g and kill<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

Text by Adele Tiengo and Matteo Andreozzi<br />

One <strong>of</strong> the most powerful ec<strong>of</strong>em<strong>in</strong>ist approach<br />

to the issue <strong>of</strong> animal exploitation as a practice<br />

focused on – but not restricted to – food is Carol<br />

Adams’ <strong>The</strong> Sexual Politics <strong>of</strong> Meat. Published <strong>in</strong><br />

1990, Adams’ book comb<strong>in</strong>es the author’s<br />

experience as a fem<strong>in</strong>ist activist and her<br />

academic researches to formulate the l<strong>in</strong>k<br />

between the perception <strong>of</strong> nonhuman animals<br />

and women as ‘consumable bodies’, <strong>of</strong>fered to<br />

men’s pleasure. Adams suggests that both<br />

women and animals are victims <strong>of</strong> a process <strong>of</strong><br />

objectification, fragmentation, and<br />

consumption, especially <strong>in</strong> visual, textual, and<br />

discursive texts. Through metaphor, a subject is<br />

objectified, then fragmented and separated<br />

from its ontological mean<strong>in</strong>g, and consumed as<br />

an object, exist<strong>in</strong>g only through what it<br />

represents. In the Meat Lovers advertisement, the<br />

woman/cow is an object <strong>of</strong> consumption and<br />

the representation <strong>of</strong> the patriarchal idea <strong>of</strong> love<br />

as dom<strong>in</strong>ion and possession.<br />

Many are also the analogies between Adams’<br />

<strong>in</strong>vestigation and Derrida’s<br />

carnophallogocentrism. Derrida uses this<br />

neologism to <strong>in</strong>dicate the predom<strong>in</strong>ance <strong>of</strong><br />

rationality, mascul<strong>in</strong>ity, and carnivorous habits. In<br />

his <strong>in</strong>terview ‘Eat<strong>in</strong>g Well’, he clarifies this po<strong>in</strong>t<br />

admitt<strong>in</strong>g that women and vegetarians are

actually ethical, juridical and political subjects,<br />

as well as men and meat eaters. However, this is<br />

a recent achievement, and still «authority […] is<br />

attributed to the man (homo and vir) rather than<br />

to the woman, and to the woman rather than to<br />

the animal». And <strong>in</strong> fact, Derrida asks, how many<br />

possibilities are there that a head <strong>of</strong> State<br />

publicly and exemplarily declares himself – or<br />

herself – to be a vegetarian? (Derrida, 'Eat<strong>in</strong>g<br />

Well', or the Calculation <strong>of</strong> the Subject: An<br />

Interview with Jacques Derrida 1991, 114).<br />

Both identify meat eat<strong>in</strong>g and maleness<br />

as crucial elements <strong>in</strong> determ<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g who is a<br />

subject. In particular, Derrida states that there are<br />

three fundamental conditions to recognize a<br />

subject as such, at least <strong>in</strong> Western cultures:<br />

La Capann<strong>in</strong>a<br />

Amanti della Carne (Meat Lovers), advert La Capann<strong>in</strong>a<br />

be<strong>in</strong>g «a meat eater, a man, and an<br />

authoritative, speak<strong>in</strong>g self» (Calarco qtd <strong>in</strong><br />

Adams, <strong>The</strong> Sexual Politics <strong>of</strong> Meat 1990, 6).<br />

Adams develops this idea <strong>in</strong> a far more detailed<br />

way. In particular she focuses on the implications<br />

<strong>of</strong> the perception <strong>of</strong> animal/female bodies as<br />

‘consummable’ through butchery and rape,<br />

underl<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g the evidences <strong>of</strong> this analogy <strong>in</strong><br />

images, commercials, menu covers, and articles<br />

7<br />

that use the female body to attract the male<br />

meat eaters. In the case <strong>of</strong> the advertisement<br />

here presented, rigorously male meat eaters are<br />

<strong>in</strong>vited to consume their love for a steak on a<br />

bed <strong>of</strong> lettuce.<br />

However, rather than aggressive and<br />

pornographic, this k<strong>in</strong>d <strong>of</strong> love seems tender and<br />

devoted. <strong>The</strong> cow’s head is ridiculously put on<br />

the body <strong>of</strong> a sleep<strong>in</strong>g woman and a man<br />

embraces her. <strong>The</strong> aim <strong>of</strong> the advertisement is to<br />

arouse a k<strong>in</strong>d <strong>of</strong> tenderness for the animal killed<br />

without putt<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>to question the meat eater’s<br />

virility. In fact, the tenderness here displayed is<br />

the one that follows the sexual <strong>in</strong>tercourse<br />

between husband and wife, maybe. Curiously<br />

enough, it is the beloved steak that plays here<br />

the role <strong>of</strong> the absent referent. Both the woman<br />

and the cow are visually present <strong>in</strong> the image,<br />

but the object <strong>of</strong> the advertisement – meat – is<br />

only textually summoned. In fact, the proposed<br />

idea is that meat eat<strong>in</strong>g is a behaviour <strong>of</strong> car<strong>in</strong>g<br />

because the woman/cow wants to be object <strong>of</strong><br />

that k<strong>in</strong>d <strong>of</strong> ‘tenderness’, mean<strong>in</strong>g that she wants<br />

to be eaten/consumed.<br />

<strong>The</strong> scene is not one <strong>of</strong> seduction, but <strong>of</strong>

marital love. Carol Adams clearly expla<strong>in</strong>s how<br />

the sexual politics <strong>of</strong> meat beg<strong>in</strong>s with<strong>in</strong> the<br />

exploitation <strong>of</strong> the reproductive functions <strong>of</strong><br />

female animals. Liv<strong>in</strong>g alone milk and eggs –<br />

which are products <strong>of</strong> maternity –, the majority <strong>of</strong><br />

meat comes from adult females and their<br />

babies. Female nonhuman animals are<br />

exploited to satisfy human appetites both when<br />

they are alive and when they are dead, while<br />

male animals are used much less <strong>in</strong> the food<br />

References<br />

Adams, Carol J. <strong>The</strong> Sexual Politics <strong>of</strong> Meat. Twentieth<br />

Anniversary Edition (2010). New York : Cont<strong>in</strong>uum, 1990.<br />

Derrida, Jacques. "'Eat<strong>in</strong>g Well', or the Calculation <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Subject: An Interview with Jacques Derrida" <strong>in</strong> Who Comes<br />

After the Subject, edited by Eduardo Cadava, Peter Connor<br />

and Jean-Luc Nancy, 96-119. New York and London:<br />

Routledge, 1991.<br />

Plumwood, Val. "Fem<strong>in</strong>ism and Ec<strong>of</strong>em<strong>in</strong>ism: Beyond the<br />

Dualistic Assumptions <strong>of</strong> Women, Men, and <strong>Nature</strong>." <strong>The</strong><br />

Ecologist 22, no. 1 (January/February 1992).<br />

8<br />

<strong>in</strong>dustry, because they don’t produce anyth<strong>in</strong>g<br />

dur<strong>in</strong>g their lives and their meat is considered as<br />

less succulent and tasty. In an analogous way,<br />

female human animals are exploited ma<strong>in</strong>ly<br />

when they are alive for their sexual and<br />

reproductive function and, basically, to satisfy<br />

men’s pleasure. <strong>The</strong> Meat lovers image makes it<br />

clear that not much has changed, s<strong>in</strong>ce the<br />

Sixties: females <strong>of</strong> all species are ‘objects’ <strong>of</strong> love<br />

and properties <strong>of</strong> men.<br />

Adele Tiengo is a Ph.D. student <strong>in</strong> Foreign Languages, Literatures,<br />

and <strong>Culture</strong>s at the University <strong>of</strong> Milan (Italy), where she graduated<br />

<strong>in</strong> 2012 with a thesis on the relationship between literature and<br />

ethics <strong>in</strong> the animal question. In 2011 she spent a period as a<br />

visit<strong>in</strong>g researcher at the University <strong>of</strong> Alcalà (Spa<strong>in</strong>), thanks to the<br />

Susan Fenimore Cooper scholarship. She is currently carry<strong>in</strong>g on<br />

her research activities <strong>in</strong> ecocriticism.<br />

Matteo Andreozzi is a PhD student <strong>in</strong> Philosophy at University <strong>of</strong><br />

Milan, Italy. His research is ma<strong>in</strong>ly on Environmental Ethics and<br />

Movements, with a special focus on the analysis and the<br />

develop<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> the <strong>in</strong>tr<strong>in</strong>sic value concept. He is author <strong>of</strong> the<br />

book Verso Una Prospettiva Ecocentrica. Ecologia Pr<strong>of</strong>onda e<br />

Pensiero a Aete[Head<strong>in</strong>g Toward an Ecocentric M<strong>in</strong>dset. Deep<br />

Ecology and Reticular Th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g], 2011 and editor <strong>of</strong> the book<br />

Etiche dell’Ambiente. Voci e Prospettive [Environmental Ethics.<br />

Voices and Perspectives], 2012. He is also representative member<br />

<strong>of</strong> ENEE (European Network for Environmental Ethics) and MAnITA<br />

(M<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>g <strong>Animals</strong> Italy) and member <strong>of</strong> ISEE (International Society<br />

for Environmental Ethics) and ESFRE (European Forum for the Study<br />

<strong>of</strong> Religion and the Environment). For further <strong>in</strong>formation please<br />

visit http://www.matteoandreozzi.it or<br />


A<br />

merican popular culture has quietly<br />

become <strong>in</strong>habited by all sorts <strong>of</strong> talk<strong>in</strong>g<br />

animals and danc<strong>in</strong>g products that are<br />

used by advertisers to promote their brands.<br />

<strong>The</strong>se creatures, called trade characters, are<br />

fictional, animate be<strong>in</strong>gs, or animated objects,<br />

that have been created for the promotion <strong>of</strong> a<br />

product, service, or idea (Phillips 1996).<br />

Commercials with these characters score above<br />

average <strong>in</strong> their ability to change brand<br />

preference (Stewart and Furse 1986). It appears,<br />

then, that trade characters can be effective<br />

communication tools. However, it is unclear why<br />

this is so. Although trade characters are popular<br />

with advertisers and consumers, their role <strong>in</strong><br />

communicat<strong>in</strong>g the advertis<strong>in</strong>g message has<br />

been generally taken for granted without<br />

<strong>in</strong>vestigation. It has been<br />

hypothesized that there are several reasons why<br />

advertisers use trade characters: to attract<br />

attention, enhance identification <strong>of</strong> and memory<br />




One explanation for the proliferation <strong>of</strong> animal trade characters <strong>in</strong> current advertis<strong>in</strong>g practice proposes that they<br />

are effective communication tools because they can be used to transfer desirable cultural mean<strong>in</strong>gs to products<br />

with which they are associated. <strong>The</strong> first step <strong>in</strong> exam<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g what messages these animals communicate is to<br />

explore the common cultural mean<strong>in</strong>gs that they embody. This paper presents a qualitative analysis <strong>of</strong> the<br />

common themes found <strong>in</strong> the cultural mean<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>of</strong> four animal characters. In addition, it demonstrates a method<br />

by which cultural mean<strong>in</strong>gs can be elicited. <strong>The</strong> implications <strong>of</strong> this method for advertis<strong>in</strong>g research and practice<br />

are discussed.<br />

Text by Barbara J. Phillips<br />

9<br />

for a product, and achieve promotional<br />

cont<strong>in</strong>uity (Phillips 1996). However, one <strong>of</strong> the<br />

most important reasons for the use <strong>of</strong> trade<br />

characters <strong>in</strong> advertis<strong>in</strong>g may be that they can<br />

be used to transfer desired mean<strong>in</strong>gs to the<br />

products with which they are associated. By<br />

pair<strong>in</strong>g a trade character with a product,<br />

advertisers can l<strong>in</strong>k the personality and cultural<br />

mean<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> the character to the product <strong>in</strong> the<br />

m<strong>in</strong>ds <strong>of</strong> consumers. This creates a desirable<br />

image, or mean<strong>in</strong>g, for the product. <strong>The</strong> first step<br />

<strong>in</strong> support<strong>in</strong>g this explanation <strong>of</strong> trade character<br />

communication is to show that these characters<br />

do embody common cultural mean<strong>in</strong>gs that can<br />

be l<strong>in</strong>ked to products. Research has shown<br />

that animal characters are one <strong>of</strong> the most<br />

commonly used trade character types <strong>in</strong> current<br />

advertis<strong>in</strong>g practice (Callcott and Lee 1994).<br />

<strong>Animals</strong> have long been viewed as standard<br />

symbols <strong>of</strong> human qualities (Neal 1985; Sax<br />

1988). For example, <strong>in</strong> American culture,

"everyone" knows that a bee<br />

symbolizes<strong>in</strong>dustriousness, a dove represents<br />

peace, and a fox embodies cunn<strong>in</strong>g (Rob<strong>in</strong><br />

1932). It is likely that advertisers use animal<br />

characters because consumers understand the<br />

animals' cultural mean<strong>in</strong>gs and consequently<br />

can l<strong>in</strong>k these mean<strong>in</strong>gs to a product. <strong>The</strong>refore,<br />

the cultural mean<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> animals may lie at the<br />

core <strong>of</strong> the mean<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>of</strong> animal trade<br />

characters. This paper describes a method for<br />

elicit<strong>in</strong>g character mean<strong>in</strong>gs, presents a<br />

qualitative analysis <strong>of</strong> the cultural mean<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>of</strong><br />

four animal characters, and discusses the<br />

broader implications that these results have for<br />

advertis<strong>in</strong>g research and practice. This<br />

qualitative study <strong>of</strong> animal mean<strong>in</strong>gs is<br />

motivated by several issues: Understand<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

cultural mean<strong>in</strong>gs that consumers assign to<br />

animal characters will assist <strong>in</strong> develop<strong>in</strong>g<br />

successful advertis<strong>in</strong>g campaigns; practitioners<br />

can create characters that embody desired<br />

brand mean<strong>in</strong>gs while avoid<strong>in</strong>g characters with<br />

negative associations. In addition, by<br />

highlight<strong>in</strong>g an underutilized research method by<br />

which the cultural mean<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> characters can<br />

be elicited, this paper presents a way for<br />

practitioners, researchers, and regulators to<br />

understand what messages specific characters<br />

are communicat<strong>in</strong>g to their audiences. This<br />

method may be useful <strong>in</strong> other types <strong>of</strong><br />

advertis<strong>in</strong>g research as well. Researchers have,<br />

<strong>in</strong> the past, asked for measures <strong>of</strong> cultural<br />

mean<strong>in</strong>g for celebrity endorsers (McCracken<br />

1989) and for symbolic advertis<strong>in</strong>g images (Scott<br />

1994), as well. F<strong>in</strong>ally, by show<strong>in</strong>g that animal<br />

characters have common cultural mean<strong>in</strong>gs,<br />

this paper builds support for one <strong>of</strong> the first<br />

empirical explanations <strong>of</strong> how trade characters<br />

"work" <strong>in</strong> advertis<strong>in</strong>g, and creates a foundation<br />

for future trade character research.<br />

<strong>The</strong> next section <strong>of</strong> the paper will present<br />

the theories used to illum<strong>in</strong>ate the research<br />

question: Do there exist shared mean<strong>in</strong>gs that<br />

consumers associate with specific animal<br />

characters? If so, how can these mean<strong>in</strong>gs be<br />

elicited, and what are their common themes?<br />

<strong>The</strong> third section will <strong>in</strong>troduce a method by<br />

which the cultural mean<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>of</strong> characters can<br />

be elicited, and will present the procedures used<br />

<strong>in</strong> this research study. <strong>The</strong> fourth section will<br />

discuss the results <strong>of</strong> the study, and the last<br />

section will draw general conclusions.<br />

Conceptual Development <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Research Question It has been suggested that<br />

advertis<strong>in</strong>g functions, <strong>in</strong> general, by attempt<strong>in</strong>g<br />

to l<strong>in</strong>k a product with an image that elicits<br />

10<br />

desirable emotions and ideas (McCracken 1986).<br />

For example, the image <strong>of</strong> a child may <strong>in</strong>voke<br />

feel<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>of</strong> pleasure, nostalgia, and playfulness. By<br />

show<strong>in</strong>g a product next to such an image,<br />

advertis<strong>in</strong>g encourages consumers to associate<br />

the product with the image. Through this<br />

association, the product acquires the image's<br />

cultural mean<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

Trade characters may be one type <strong>of</strong><br />

image that advertisers use because these<br />

characters possess learned cultural mean<strong>in</strong>gs.<br />

<strong>The</strong>se mean<strong>in</strong>gs are similar to the personalities<br />

that consumers associate with characters from<br />

other sources such as movies, cartoons, and<br />

comic books. For example, Mickey Mouse is<br />

viewed as a "nice guy," while Bugs Bunny is seen<br />

as clever, but mischievous. Individuals do not<br />

<strong>in</strong>vent their own mean<strong>in</strong>g for cultural symbols;<br />

they must learn what each symbol means <strong>in</strong> their<br />

culture (Berger 1984) based on their experiences<br />

with the character. For example, consumers'<br />

ideas about the mean<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> "elephant" are<br />

shaped by Dumbo movies and African safari TV<br />

programs, and are colored by news stories about<br />

a rampag<strong>in</strong>g elephant that trampled its tra<strong>in</strong>er.<br />

Consequently, although each <strong>in</strong>dividual br<strong>in</strong>gs his<br />

or her own experience to the mean<strong>in</strong>g ascription<br />

process, consensus <strong>of</strong> character mean<strong>in</strong>g across<br />

<strong>in</strong>dividuals is possible through common cultural<br />

experience.<br />

In advertis<strong>in</strong>g, trade characters' mean<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

are used to visually represent the product<br />

attributes (Zacher 1967) or the advertis<strong>in</strong>g<br />

message (Kleppner 1966). For example, Mr.<br />

Peanut embodies sophistication (Kapnick 1992),<br />

the Pillsbury Doughboy symbolizes fun (PR<br />

Newswire 1990), and the lonely Maytag repairman<br />

stands for reliability (Elliott 1992). However, the<br />

consumer must correctly decode the trade<br />

character's mean<strong>in</strong>g before it can have an<br />

impact (McCracken 1986). <strong>The</strong>refore, characters'<br />

mean<strong>in</strong>gs must be easily understood by<br />

consumers if they are to correctly <strong>in</strong>terpret the<br />

character's message. As a result, advertisers<br />

frequently use animal trade characters (Callcott<br />

and Lee 1994) because consumers are thought<br />

to have learned the animals' cultural mean<strong>in</strong>gs,<br />

and consequently are likely to correctly decode<br />

the advertis<strong>in</strong>g message.<br />

<strong>The</strong> first step <strong>in</strong> exam<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g the association<br />

between animal trade characters and the<br />

products they promote is to explore the symbolic<br />

mean<strong>in</strong>gs conveyed by the animals used <strong>in</strong> these<br />

advertisements. That is, if an advertiser places a<br />

bear (e.g., Snuggle) or a dog (e.g., Spuds<br />

McKenzie) next to his product, what do these

animals represent to the audience? Rather than<br />

exam<strong>in</strong>e <strong>in</strong>dividual animal characters, however,<br />

it is necessary to first study an animal's general<br />

cultural mean<strong>in</strong>g. This is because the animal<br />

category (e.g., bear, dog, etc.) provides the<br />

primary, or core, mean<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> an <strong>in</strong>dividual<br />

character. Although an advertiser can choose to<br />

highlight certa<strong>in</strong> animal mean<strong>in</strong>gs over others<br />

(e.g., "s<strong>of</strong>tness" for Snuggle Bear and "wildness"<br />

for Smokey Bear), the core set <strong>of</strong> animal<br />

mean<strong>in</strong>gs dictate what is possible for that<br />

character to express. Snuggle fabric s<strong>of</strong>tener<br />

would not f<strong>in</strong>d it easy to use a porcup<strong>in</strong>e, pig, or<br />

flam<strong>in</strong>go to express "s<strong>of</strong>tness."<br />

In addition, by study<strong>in</strong>g the broad animal<br />

category to which the character belongs, it is<br />

possible to make generalizations that can help<br />

practitioners create and use animal characters<br />

effectively. For example, if advertisers know that<br />

the animal "cat" shares several positive core<br />

mean<strong>in</strong>gs, they can create cat characters that<br />

capitalize on those mean<strong>in</strong>gs. Alternatively, if<br />

"cat" mean<strong>in</strong>gs conta<strong>in</strong> negative attributes that<br />

reflect badly on the associated product,<br />

advertisers may want to use a different<br />

character.<br />

Method<br />

It is difficult to explore the perceived mean<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong><br />

a trade character by ask<strong>in</strong>g subjects directly, as<br />

their responses tend to be superficial and<br />

descriptive. "Smokey Bear? Oh, he's brown and<br />

wears a hat." Other qualitative methods, such as<br />

<strong>in</strong>-depth <strong>in</strong>terview<strong>in</strong>g, tend to be time- and labor<strong>in</strong>tensive<br />

C features that advertisers may want to<br />

avoid. As an alternative, word association is an<br />

easy and efficient method for explor<strong>in</strong>g<br />

psychological mean<strong>in</strong>g. It can be adm<strong>in</strong>istered<br />

to a group and can elicit the mean<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>of</strong> more<br />

than one animal per session, yet provides rich<br />

<strong>in</strong>formation regard<strong>in</strong>g cultural mean<strong>in</strong>g. Szalay<br />

and Deese (1978) state that because a word<br />

association task does not require subjects to<br />

communicate their <strong>in</strong>tentions, it decreases<br />

subjects' rationalizations, and it taps associations<br />

that are difficult to express or expla<strong>in</strong>. Further,<br />

word association does not require thoughts to be<br />

expressed <strong>in</strong> a structural manner. Instead, this<br />

technique produces expressions <strong>of</strong> thought that<br />

are immediate and spontaneous, and this<br />

spontaneity, along with an imposed time<br />

constra<strong>in</strong>t, is thought to reduce subjects' selfmonitor<strong>in</strong>g<br />

and conscious edit<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> responses.<br />

F<strong>in</strong>ally, the method reduces experimenter bias<br />

because no organization or categories are<br />

11<br />

imposed on subjects to limit their responses C a<br />

primary draw-back <strong>of</strong> quantitative research. <strong>The</strong><br />

word association method is not new; other<br />

market<strong>in</strong>g and advertis<strong>in</strong>g researchers have used<br />

it to understand how consumers perceive<br />

products (Kle<strong>in</strong>e and Kernan 1991) and to<br />

determ<strong>in</strong>e a product's attributes to aid <strong>in</strong> product<br />

position<strong>in</strong>g (Friedmann 1986). However, perhaps<br />

because it is "old hat," this method has been<br />

consistently overlooked and underutilized <strong>in</strong><br />

consumer behavior research.<br />

In the present study, <strong>in</strong>formants were asked<br />

to respond to verbal animal names dur<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

word association task (e.g., "bear") rather than to<br />

visual images <strong>of</strong> the animal. Verbal animal names<br />

are thought to elicit broad responses that reflect<br />

much <strong>of</strong> the <strong>in</strong>formation that an <strong>in</strong>dividual has<br />

learned to associate with the category, "bear." In<br />

contrast, the way an animal is visually portrayed<br />

can narrow its mean<strong>in</strong>g (Berger 1984). A realistic<br />

picture <strong>of</strong> a bear may elicit a different part <strong>of</strong> the<br />

core mean<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> "bear" than a cartoon bear.<br />

Images <strong>of</strong> actual trade characters, such as<br />

Smokey Bear or Snuggle, may elicit even narrower<br />

mean<strong>in</strong>gs associated only with those characters.<br />

<strong>The</strong>refore, verbal animal names were used to<br />

generate broad, complete responses. However, it<br />

is possible that advertisers could use both verbal<br />

and visual animals <strong>in</strong> a word association task<br />

when creat<strong>in</strong>g characters. Responses to the<br />

verbal animal name would provide core<br />

mean<strong>in</strong>gs, while responses to the visual character<br />

would provide a measure <strong>of</strong> how successfully the<br />

particular representation <strong>of</strong> an animal captured<br />

desired mean<strong>in</strong>gs. This possibility will be discussed<br />

further <strong>in</strong> the conclusion section <strong>of</strong> this paper.<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>in</strong>formants for this study were 21 male<br />

and 15 female undergraduate students enrolled<br />

<strong>in</strong> an advertis<strong>in</strong>g management course at a major<br />

state university. Students participated <strong>in</strong> the study<br />

dur<strong>in</strong>g their regular class time. Of these<br />

respondents, 92% were between the ages <strong>of</strong> 20<br />

and 25. <strong>The</strong> use <strong>of</strong> this student sample precludes<br />

conclud<strong>in</strong>g that the results <strong>of</strong> this study reflect the<br />

"true" cultural mean<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> each animal. However,<br />

this sample is useful to show that a common<br />

cultural mean<strong>in</strong>g for each animal exists <strong>in</strong> a<br />

homogeneous population and can be elicited<br />

through research, whether that population is<br />

composed <strong>of</strong> undergraduate students or other<br />

target markets <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>terest to advertisers. Each<br />

<strong>in</strong>formant received a package conta<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g a<br />

cover page, an <strong>in</strong>struction page, and five word<br />

association sheets.<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>in</strong>structions for the word association<br />

task were read aloud and <strong>in</strong>formants' questions

egard<strong>in</strong>g the task were answered. For each word<br />

association task, respondents had one m<strong>in</strong>ute to<br />

write one-word descriptions <strong>of</strong> whatever came to<br />

m<strong>in</strong>d when they thought about the animal listed<br />

at the top <strong>of</strong> the page (Szalay and Deese 1978).<br />

Informants were <strong>in</strong>structed to write these words <strong>in</strong><br />

the order <strong>in</strong> which they came to m<strong>in</strong>d and it was<br />

stressed that there were no wrong answers. <strong>The</strong><br />

first animal listed <strong>in</strong> the package was lobster,<br />

which was used as a practice task to familiarize<br />

students with the word association method. After<br />

complet<strong>in</strong>g the practice task, <strong>in</strong>formants'<br />

rema<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g questions about the task were<br />

answered. Respondents then completed four<br />

more animal word associations, respond<strong>in</strong>g to the<br />

words: pengu<strong>in</strong>, ant, gorilla, and raccoon. <strong>The</strong><br />

particular animals were chosen to reflect the<br />

<strong>in</strong>terests <strong>of</strong> the author; other animals could<br />

illustrate the commonality <strong>of</strong> animal mean<strong>in</strong>gs as<br />

well. <strong>The</strong> order <strong>in</strong> which the four animals were<br />

presented was randomized to control for order<br />

effects.<br />

<strong>The</strong> words generated by <strong>in</strong>formants <strong>in</strong><br />

response to the animal word association were<br />

grouped <strong>in</strong>to categories, or themes that emerged<br />

from the data. Each animal was analyzed<br />

separately, except lobster, the practice task,<br />

which was not coded. For each animal, words<br />

that were similar <strong>in</strong> mean<strong>in</strong>g or that had a<br />

common theme were grouped together. Each<br />

<strong>in</strong>formant's responses were added to the tentative<br />

themes discovered <strong>in</strong> the previous <strong>in</strong>formants'<br />

responses, thus support<strong>in</strong>g those themes or<br />

allow<strong>in</strong>g them to be changed (Strauss and Corb<strong>in</strong><br />

1990). Guidel<strong>in</strong>es suggested by Szalay and Deese<br />

(1978) were followed when identify<strong>in</strong>g common<br />

themes.<br />

Words that could not be placed <strong>in</strong>to any<br />

category were placed <strong>in</strong>to an "other" category.<br />

<strong>The</strong>se words did not have an identifiable<br />

association with the animal; they are thought to<br />

be associations to words other than the animal<br />

(i.e., cha<strong>in</strong> associations) or words that show that<br />

the respondent was th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> someth<strong>in</strong>g other<br />

than the task at hand. <strong>The</strong>re were only 10 to 16 <strong>of</strong><br />

these words for each animal.<br />

A second researcher re-classified all <strong>of</strong> the<br />

response words <strong>in</strong>to the categories to check the<br />

soundness <strong>of</strong> the themes. <strong>The</strong>re was an <strong>in</strong>itial 86%<br />

agreement between researchers; disagreements<br />

were resolved through discussion and re-analysis<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>formant responses. <strong>The</strong> response words for all<br />

<strong>of</strong> the animals are available from the author.<br />

12<br />


<strong>The</strong> themes elicited <strong>in</strong> response to each animal<br />

were illustrated us<strong>in</strong>g cognitive maps, represent<strong>in</strong>g<br />

a pictorial overview <strong>of</strong> each animal's mean<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

<strong>The</strong> cognitive map summarizes the objects and<br />

ideas that <strong>in</strong>formants collectively associate with<br />

each animal, and organizes these associations<br />

<strong>in</strong>to mean<strong>in</strong>gful themes (Coleman 1992). <strong>The</strong><br />

cognitive map also identifies the number <strong>of</strong> times<br />

each theme was mentioned, giv<strong>in</strong>g an idea <strong>of</strong><br />

the relative importance <strong>of</strong> each theme to the<br />

animal's shared mean<strong>in</strong>g.<br />


General Results<br />

Informants mentioned between 315 and 386<br />

words <strong>in</strong> response to each animal, or<br />

approximately 9 to 11 words per <strong>in</strong>dividual. It was<br />

surpris<strong>in</strong>g that more than 90% <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>formants'<br />

responses could be classified <strong>in</strong>to six or seven<br />

ma<strong>in</strong> themes for each animal. In addition,<br />

<strong>in</strong>formants' words were easily coded <strong>in</strong>to these<br />

themes, reflect<strong>in</strong>g a high degree <strong>of</strong> similarity<br />

between respondents. Also, words with the highest<br />

frequencies were mentioned by 8 to 25<br />

<strong>in</strong>dividuals, which suggests a high degree <strong>of</strong><br />

consistency across <strong>in</strong>dividuals' responses. <strong>The</strong>se<br />

results support the idea that there exist shared<br />

cultural mean<strong>in</strong>gs that consumers generally<br />

associate with animals, and that these mean<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

can be elicited through word association.<br />

Interest<strong>in</strong>gly, although it was not the <strong>in</strong>tent<br />

at the outset, the themes that emerged from the<br />

data were remarkably similar between animals.<br />

<strong>The</strong> primary themes mentioned by <strong>in</strong>formants<br />

<strong>in</strong>clude: (a) Appearance, (b) Habitat, (c)<br />

Personality, (d) Human/animal <strong>in</strong>teraction, (e)<br />

Popular culture, and (f) Behavior. <strong>The</strong>se six<br />

categories seem to be most salient for<br />

consumers, and may <strong>of</strong>fer the greatest help <strong>in</strong><br />

creat<strong>in</strong>g animal characters for use <strong>in</strong> advertis<strong>in</strong>g<br />

campaigns. Appearance summarizes <strong>in</strong>formants'<br />

mental images <strong>of</strong> the animal C how they expect<br />

the animal to look; Habitat describes <strong>in</strong>formants'<br />

expectations <strong>of</strong> where these animals live and the<br />

objects that surround them; Personality represents<br />

the personality traits that <strong>in</strong>formants associate with<br />

each animal; Human/animal <strong>in</strong>teraction<br />

describes how humans coexist and <strong>in</strong>teract with<br />

these animals; while Behavior describes their<br />

typical actions. Popular culture highlights cultural<br />

references that already exist for each animal,

Fig. 1.<br />

<strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g sources such as television programs,<br />

movies, books, and ads. <strong>The</strong> themes for each<br />

animal are given below <strong>in</strong> greater detail.<br />

Pengu<strong>in</strong><br />

A cognitive map <strong>of</strong> the themes associated with<br />

"pengu<strong>in</strong>," along with the frequency with which<br />

they were mentioned, are shown <strong>in</strong> Figure 1. <strong>The</strong><br />

dom<strong>in</strong>ant themes that emerge from the data are<br />

Habitat and Appearance.<br />

13<br />

Habitat <strong>in</strong>cludes a natural habitat made up <strong>of</strong> the<br />

subthemes <strong>of</strong>: (a) ice and snow, (b) cold, (c)<br />

places such as Antarctica and the South Pole,<br />

and (d) water. Informants also listed other<br />

<strong>in</strong>habitants <strong>of</strong> this environment such as fish, polar<br />

bears, and whales. Informants also mentioned<br />

Appearance as an important pengu<strong>in</strong> theme,<br />

focus<strong>in</strong>g on the subthemes <strong>of</strong>: (a) color, which<br />

was mostly black and white, (b) body parts such<br />

as w<strong>in</strong>gs, beaks, and feet, and (c) the formal<br />

tuxedo that pengu<strong>in</strong>s seem to be wear<strong>in</strong>g.

Fig. 2.<br />

Tuxedo was the most <strong>of</strong>ten mentioned word, with<br />

23 mentions. This strong association seems to<br />

have affected other themes, as discussed below.<br />

Both <strong>of</strong> the dom<strong>in</strong>ant themes suggest that a<br />

pengu<strong>in</strong> is associated with rich visual imagery.<br />

When confronted with the word "pengu<strong>in</strong>," it<br />

appears that <strong>in</strong>dividuals conjure up an image <strong>of</strong><br />

a pengu<strong>in</strong>, and describe him (Appearance) and<br />

his surround<strong>in</strong>gs (Habitat). This <strong>in</strong>terpretation is<br />

supported by a third theme, Behavior, which was<br />

mentioned less <strong>of</strong>ten. This category <strong>in</strong>cludes the<br />

subthemes <strong>of</strong>: (a) waddle, (b) swim, and (c) other<br />

actions, which also contribute to visual imagery.<br />

14<br />

Behavior was mentioned 44 times, suggest<strong>in</strong>g that<br />

respondents frequently visualize the pengu<strong>in</strong> <strong>in</strong><br />

motion.<br />


In analyz<strong>in</strong>g the dom<strong>in</strong>ant themes, it seems that<br />

pengu<strong>in</strong>s are viewed as hav<strong>in</strong>g little <strong>in</strong>teraction<br />

with humans. <strong>The</strong> pengu<strong>in</strong> appears to be isolated<br />

from all but a few Eskimos (accord<strong>in</strong>g to two<br />

<strong>in</strong>formants) except when viewed <strong>in</strong> a man-made<br />

habitat (e.g., "Sea World"), and even that type <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>in</strong>teraction is rarely mentioned (2% <strong>of</strong> the time).

This lack <strong>of</strong> human/pengu<strong>in</strong> <strong>in</strong>teraction is not<br />

surpris<strong>in</strong>g given pengu<strong>in</strong>s' remote location <strong>in</strong> the<br />

world, and the fact that they are removed from<br />

<strong>in</strong>formants' daily experiences. Another theme,<br />

Personality, is characterized by a duality; for the<br />

most part, pengu<strong>in</strong>s are personified as silly<br />

creatures (e.g., cute, funny, go<strong>of</strong>y, playful, etc.),<br />

but they also can be viewed as formal animals<br />

(e.g., dist<strong>in</strong>guished, classy, behaved, mannered,<br />

etc.), even by the same <strong>in</strong>dividuals. This<br />

contradiction may stem from the fact that<br />

pengu<strong>in</strong>s are strange-look<strong>in</strong>g members <strong>of</strong> the<br />

bird family and waddle comically <strong>in</strong>stead <strong>of</strong><br />

fly<strong>in</strong>g, but also appear to wear<strong>in</strong>g a tuxedo, a<br />

cultural symbol <strong>of</strong> formality and manners.<br />

<strong>The</strong> rema<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g pengu<strong>in</strong> themes are<br />

Popular culture and Categories. Pengu<strong>in</strong>s are<br />

associated with a surpris<strong>in</strong>gly large number <strong>of</strong><br />

popular culture references <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g movies,<br />

videogames, mascots, and cartoons. Categories<br />

refers to the hierarchical categorization <strong>of</strong><br />

objects, <strong>in</strong> which an object can be placed <strong>in</strong> a<br />

superset (generalization hierarchy) or a subset<br />

(part hierarchy) (Anderson 1990). For example, a<br />

pengu<strong>in</strong> is a bird (superset), and a type <strong>of</strong><br />

pengu<strong>in</strong> is an emperor (subset). In the same way,<br />

a group <strong>of</strong> pengu<strong>in</strong>s is called a flock, or a herd<br />

(at least for one respondent).<br />

Ant<br />

A cognitive map <strong>of</strong> the "ant" themes is shown <strong>in</strong><br />

Figure 2. <strong>The</strong> three dom<strong>in</strong>ant ant themes are:<br />

Categories, Habitat, and Human/ant <strong>in</strong>teraction.<br />

Categories <strong>in</strong>cludes: (a) type <strong>of</strong> ant, such as red<br />

or army; (b) name <strong>of</strong> ant, such as worker or<br />

queen; (c) group <strong>of</strong> ants, such as colony; and (d)<br />

classification <strong>of</strong> ant, such as <strong>in</strong>sect. <strong>The</strong><br />

importance <strong>of</strong> this theme for ant contrasts sharply<br />

with that for pengu<strong>in</strong>; Categories was mentioned<br />

104 times for ant, but only 16 times for pengu<strong>in</strong>.<br />

This suggests that the ant themes are less<br />

associated with images, and more associated<br />

with verbal or propositional knowledge (Anderson<br />

1990). That is, when asked to respond to the word<br />

"ant," it appears that respondents retrieve verbal<br />

<strong>in</strong>formation that they have learned <strong>in</strong> the past,<br />

such as: the head ant is called the queen; the<br />

male ant is called the drone; ants live <strong>in</strong> colonies;<br />

etc. This <strong>in</strong>terpretation is supported by another<br />

dom<strong>in</strong>ant theme: Habitat, where the subthemes<br />

<strong>of</strong> (a) hill and (b) man-made habitat also appear<br />

to conta<strong>in</strong> verbal associations. For example, the<br />

most-<strong>of</strong>ten mentioned words <strong>in</strong> each subtheme,<br />

"hill" and "farm," could be elicited with a fill-<strong>in</strong>-the-<br />

15<br />

blank word task (i.e., "ant____"). <strong>The</strong> same cannot<br />

be said for pengu<strong>in</strong> (e.g., "pengu<strong>in</strong> ice," "pengu<strong>in</strong><br />

cold," etc.). Some imagery is associated with ant,<br />

though, as seen <strong>in</strong> the Habitat subtheme <strong>of</strong> (c)<br />

picnic. For the most part, however, other themes<br />

support verbal, non-imagery based associations<br />

for ant. For example, the ant's image-based<br />

themes, Appearance and Behavior, conta<strong>in</strong> far<br />

fewer words (31 and 7) than do these same<br />

categories for pengu<strong>in</strong> (103 and 44). Also, many<br />

<strong>of</strong> the words <strong>in</strong> Appearance, such as antenna,<br />

thorax, and abdomen, seem associated with<br />

knowledge propositions, rather than image.<br />

Surpris<strong>in</strong>gly, even the Popular culture theme<br />

supports a verbal view because many <strong>of</strong> the<br />

responses <strong>in</strong> this category make use <strong>of</strong> word play<br />

such as "Aunt Bea" and "antichrist."<br />

A dom<strong>in</strong>ant theme for ant that did not exist<br />

for pengu<strong>in</strong> is Human/ant <strong>in</strong>teraction. This focus on<br />

<strong>in</strong>teraction is understandable given that ants are<br />

usually part <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>formants' daily environment and<br />

experience. In this category, ants <strong>in</strong>teract with<br />

humans by annoy<strong>in</strong>g them and caus<strong>in</strong>g them<br />

pa<strong>in</strong>; "bite" was mentioned 19 times by<br />

respondents. Humans <strong>in</strong>teract with ants as<br />

exterm<strong>in</strong>ators; we kill them. It is surpris<strong>in</strong>g then, that<br />

under the theme Personality, ants are personified<br />

as hav<strong>in</strong>g more positive than negative qualities.<br />

Words like "strong," "hard-work<strong>in</strong>g," and<br />

"determ<strong>in</strong>ed" are used by respondents. Perhaps<br />

<strong>in</strong>dividuals have learned to associate these<br />

positive qualities with ants through stories, songs,<br />

and fables, such as "<strong>The</strong> Grasshopper and the<br />

Ant," while negative associations, such as pest,<br />

come from <strong>in</strong>formants' own experiences. As is the<br />

case with pengu<strong>in</strong>, there is a duality <strong>in</strong> the ant's<br />

perceived personality C <strong>in</strong>dustrious and diligent,<br />

yet irritat<strong>in</strong>g and better <strong>of</strong>f dead. <strong>The</strong>se strongly<br />

negative associations may signal advertisers to<br />

use caution <strong>in</strong> utiliz<strong>in</strong>g this animal <strong>in</strong> ads.<br />

Advertisers must be sure that only desirable<br />

characteristics are transferred to the brand.<br />


Gorilla<br />

A cognitive map <strong>of</strong> "gorilla" themes is presented <strong>in</strong><br />

Figure 3. <strong>The</strong> dom<strong>in</strong>ant themes that emerge from<br />

the data are Habitat, Appearance, and<br />

Personality. Gorilla's dom<strong>in</strong>ant themes, like those<br />

<strong>of</strong> pengu<strong>in</strong>, are rich <strong>in</strong> visual imagery and appear<br />

to be visually based. For example, Habitat<br />

conta<strong>in</strong>s images <strong>of</strong>: (a) natural habitats, such as<br />

the jungle; (b) man-made habitats, such as zoos

Fig. 3.<br />

and cages; and (c) other <strong>in</strong>habitants, most<br />

notably bananas and monkeys. In the same way,<br />

Appearance is composed <strong>of</strong>: (a) hairy; (b) colors;<br />

(c) size; and (d) body parts, like big hands and big<br />

teeth.<br />

Gorilla is the first animal <strong>in</strong> this study to<br />

have Personality as a dom<strong>in</strong>ant theme. As with<br />

pengu<strong>in</strong> and ant, gorilla is personified <strong>in</strong> two<br />

different ways C as a fierce monster with negative<br />

attributes, and as a gentle giant with positive<br />

ones. <strong>The</strong> theme Popular culture gives a possible<br />

reason for this duality. "K<strong>in</strong>g Kong," the movie(s)<br />

that portrays a giant gorilla destroy<strong>in</strong>g cities and<br />

16<br />

battl<strong>in</strong>g other monsters, received 15 direct and<br />

<strong>in</strong>direct mentions, while "Gorillas <strong>in</strong> the Mist," the<br />

movie that portrays gorillas as human-like,<br />

endangered creatures received 12.<br />

Human/gorilla <strong>in</strong>teraction appears as<br />

another gorilla theme (as it did for ant), even<br />

though the gorilla, like the pengu<strong>in</strong>, is remote and<br />

removed from respondents' daily lives. While the<br />

<strong>in</strong>teraction between humans and ants was<br />

concrete and experience-based, the <strong>in</strong>teraction<br />

between humans and gorillas is viewed more<br />

symbolically by <strong>in</strong>formants, with the subthemes:<br />

(a) ancestor, and (b) research. As our ancestors,

gorillas were associated directly with humans<br />

through Darw<strong>in</strong>'s theory <strong>of</strong> evolution. Informants<br />

also recognized the research l<strong>in</strong>k between gorillas<br />

and humans as we study them for their benefit<br />

(e.g., "endangered") or for ours (e.g., "sign<br />

language").<br />

Raccoon<br />

A cognitive map <strong>of</strong> "raccoon" themes is shown <strong>in</strong><br />

Figure 4. <strong>The</strong> dom<strong>in</strong>ant themes that emerge from<br />

the responses are: Appearance, Habitat, and<br />

Personality, suggest<strong>in</strong>g that a raccoon’s<br />

personality is an important part <strong>of</strong> its collective<br />

mean<strong>in</strong>g, <strong>in</strong> the same way as a gorilla's. <strong>The</strong><br />

words associated with raccoon also appear to be<br />

imagery-based, like those for pengu<strong>in</strong> and gorilla.<br />

Unlike the observations made for other animals,<br />

there is no separate theme <strong>of</strong> human/raccoon<br />

<strong>in</strong>teraction. <strong>The</strong> reason for this is that the idea <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>in</strong>teraction is woven throughout each category.<br />

For example, <strong>in</strong>formants listed both trees and<br />

ro<strong>of</strong>tops, wilderness and dra<strong>in</strong>age ditches as<br />

raccoon habitats. Food <strong>in</strong>cluded crawfish and<br />

trash, and other <strong>in</strong>habitants were likely to be both<br />

possums and coon dogs. This suggests that the<br />

raccoon is not seen as hav<strong>in</strong>g a separate<br />

environment, like ant (e.g., "hill") or gorilla (e.g.,<br />

"jungle"), which can sometimes overlap with a<br />

human environment. Rather, the raccoon shares<br />

our habitat <strong>in</strong> an <strong>in</strong>tegrated way.<br />

<strong>The</strong> theme Personality <strong>in</strong>cludes: (a) thief;<br />

(b) positive qualities, like cute and playful; and (c)<br />

negative qualities, such as sneaky and<br />

troublesome. Although <strong>in</strong>formants listed both<br />

negative and positive attributes for raccoon, its<br />

personality does not appear to be a duality, unlike<br />

the other animals studied. This is because<br />

respondents viewed the raccoon as possess<strong>in</strong>g<br />

both positive and negative qualities at the same<br />

time as part <strong>of</strong> the same personality role.<br />

Raccoon is personified most <strong>of</strong>ten as a bandit (10<br />

mentions), and also is called a rascal or a<br />

scoundrel. It appears that we admire a raccoon’s<br />

<strong>in</strong>telligence and audacity, while deplor<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

mess they make when they <strong>in</strong>trude on our<br />

property.<br />


This study has supported the view that consumers<br />

associate shared mean<strong>in</strong>gs with animals and has<br />

provided a description <strong>of</strong> the common themes<br />

found <strong>in</strong> the cultural mean<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>of</strong> four specific<br />

animals. In addition, the results <strong>of</strong> this study<br />

support the use <strong>of</strong> the word association method<br />

to elicit those cultural mean<strong>in</strong>gs.<br />

17<br />


Respondents generated six common themes <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>in</strong>terest to advertisers <strong>in</strong> response to each animal:<br />

Appearance, Habitat, Personality, Human/animal<br />

<strong>in</strong>teraction, Popular culture, and Behavior. It is<br />

clear that these themes have practical<br />

applications <strong>in</strong> advertis<strong>in</strong>g. <strong>The</strong> themes <strong>of</strong><br />

appearance, habitat, and behavior can help<br />

def<strong>in</strong>e a "natural" look for an animal and its<br />

environment <strong>in</strong> an ad, while other popular culture<br />

references <strong>in</strong> response to the word association<br />

task can warn the advertiser if the animal has<br />

already been l<strong>in</strong>ked to another product or idea.<br />

<strong>The</strong> most mean<strong>in</strong>gful themes for advertis<strong>in</strong>g use,<br />

however, are personality and <strong>in</strong>teraction. Through<br />

these themes, an advertiser can explore the core<br />

mean<strong>in</strong>gs that consumers associate with a<br />

specific animal. If advertisers understand this core<br />

mean<strong>in</strong>g, they can appropriate all or part <strong>of</strong> the<br />

animal's mean<strong>in</strong>g for their products. Advertisers<br />

can match positive qualities to the product<br />

attributes or the advertis<strong>in</strong>g message, or avoid<br />

us<strong>in</strong>g the animal if it elicits negative associations.<br />

<strong>The</strong> benefit <strong>of</strong> elicit<strong>in</strong>g core animal<br />

mean<strong>in</strong>gs is that by us<strong>in</strong>g the associations that<br />

already exist <strong>in</strong> our culture, advertisers do not<br />

have to educate consumers as to what their<br />

animal characters mean. Consequently, an ad's<br />

message will be more quickly and easily<br />

decoded and understood. Many advertisers<br />

<strong>in</strong>tuitively take advantage <strong>of</strong> shared mean<strong>in</strong>gs to<br />

create suitable characters; this paper presents a<br />

method for explicitly capitaliz<strong>in</strong>g on the shared<br />

cultural mean<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>of</strong> animals <strong>in</strong> trade character<br />

advertis<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

This study has theoretical implications for<br />

trade character research as well. By show<strong>in</strong>g that<br />

animals have common cultural mean<strong>in</strong>gs, the<br />

results support the idea that animal-based trade<br />

characters also embody these shared mean<strong>in</strong>gs.<br />

<strong>The</strong>refore, it is possible that trade characters can<br />

be used to transfer a common mean<strong>in</strong>g to a<br />

product. Future trade character research should<br />

focus on the transfer process by test<strong>in</strong>g the ability<br />

<strong>of</strong> trade characters to <strong>in</strong>fluence product<br />

mean<strong>in</strong>gs.<br />

In addition, the results <strong>of</strong> this study suggest<br />

<strong>in</strong>terest<strong>in</strong>g avenues for future research regard<strong>in</strong>g<br />

visual trade character mean<strong>in</strong>gs. How does the<br />

core mean<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> an animal character (as<br />

determ<strong>in</strong>ed through consumer response to a<br />

verbal animal name) relate to the mean<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> the<br />

character's visual image? For example, a study<br />

could compare teens' responses to the word<br />

"camel" on a word association task with their<br />

responses to an image <strong>of</strong> Joe Camel. Does Joe

Fig. 4.<br />

different? How do Joe's mean<strong>in</strong>gs, as an animal,<br />

compare to the mean<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>of</strong> the human<br />

Marlboro cowboy? <strong>The</strong> mean<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>of</strong> many exist<strong>in</strong>g<br />

animal characters could be explored us<strong>in</strong>g these<br />

methods. <strong>The</strong> use <strong>of</strong> the word association method<br />

has applications beyond trade character<br />

research. McCracken (1989, p. 319) calls for the<br />

creation <strong>of</strong> an <strong>in</strong>strument to "detect and survey"<br />

the cultural mean<strong>in</strong>gs that are present <strong>in</strong> celebrity<br />

endorsers. Scott (1994) states more generally that<br />

an exploration <strong>of</strong> how symbolic advertis<strong>in</strong>g<br />

images are <strong>in</strong>terpreted <strong>in</strong> consumer culture is<br />

needed to advance consumer behavior<br />

research.<br />

18<br />

Given its success <strong>in</strong> elicit<strong>in</strong>g the cultural mean<strong>in</strong>g<br />

<strong>of</strong> animals, the word association method seems<br />

suited to explore the cultural mean<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>of</strong><br />

celebrities and symbolic images <strong>in</strong> advertis<strong>in</strong>g as<br />

well.<br />

In conclusion, this study has shown that<br />

consumers associate shared cultural mean<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

with animal characters. <strong>The</strong>se mean<strong>in</strong>gs can be<br />

elicited through the word association method,<br />

and conta<strong>in</strong> common themes that can be used<br />

to further advertis<strong>in</strong>g theory and practice.

References<br />

Anderson, John R. (1990), Cognitive Psychology and Its<br />

Implications, Third Edition, New York, NY: W.H. Freeman and<br />

Company, 123-135.<br />

Berger, Asa (1984), Signs <strong>in</strong> Contemporary <strong>Culture</strong>: An<br />

Introduction to Semiotics, New York: Longman.<br />

Callcott, Margaret F. and Wei-Na Lee (1994), "A Content<br />

Analysis <strong>of</strong> Animation and Animated Spokes-Characters <strong>in</strong><br />

Television Commercials," <strong>Journal</strong> <strong>of</strong> Advertis<strong>in</strong>g, 23(4): 1-12.<br />

Coleman, Laurence J. (1992), "<strong>The</strong> Cognitive Map <strong>of</strong> a<br />

Master Teacher Conduct<strong>in</strong>g Discussions with Gifted Students,"<br />

Exceptionality, 3: 1-16.<br />

Elliott, Stewart (1992), "Lonel<strong>in</strong>ess <strong>in</strong> a Long-Last<strong>in</strong>g Pitch," <strong>The</strong><br />

New York Times, May 15, C1.<br />

Friedmann, Roberto (1986), "Psychological Mean<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong><br />

Products: Identification and <strong>Market<strong>in</strong>g</strong> Applications,"<br />

Psychology and <strong>Market<strong>in</strong>g</strong>, 3: 1-15.<br />

Kapnick, Sharon (1992), "Commercial Success: <strong>The</strong>se<br />

advertis<strong>in</strong>g figures have become American icons," <strong>The</strong> Aust<strong>in</strong><br />

American-Statesman, April 25, D1.<br />

Kle<strong>in</strong>e, Robert E. and Jerome B. Kernan (1991), "Contextual<br />

Influences on the Mean<strong>in</strong>gs Ascribed to Ord<strong>in</strong>ary<br />

Consumption Objects," <strong>Journal</strong> <strong>of</strong> Consumer Research, 18:<br />

311-323.<br />

Kleppner, Otto (1966), Advertis<strong>in</strong>g Procedure, 5th edition,<br />

Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc.<br />

McCracken, Grant (1986), "<strong>Culture</strong> and Consumption: A<br />

<strong>The</strong>oretical Account <strong>of</strong> the Structure and Movement <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Cultural Mean<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> Consumer Goods," <strong>Journal</strong> <strong>of</strong> Consumer<br />

Research, 13: 71-84.<br />

McCracken, Grant (1989), "Who Is the Celebrity Endorser?<br />

Cultural Foundations <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Endorsement Process," <strong>Journal</strong> <strong>of</strong> Consumer Research,<br />

16(December): 310-321.<br />

Neal, Arthur G. (1985), "Animism and Totemism <strong>in</strong> Popular<br />

<strong>Culture</strong>," <strong>Journal</strong> <strong>of</strong> Popular <strong>Culture</strong>, 19(2): 15-24.<br />

Phillips, Barbara J. (1996), "Def<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g Trade Characters and<br />

<strong>The</strong>ir Role <strong>in</strong> American Popular <strong>Culture</strong>," <strong>Journal</strong> <strong>of</strong> Popular<br />

<strong>Culture</strong>, 29(4): forthcom<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

PR Newswire (1990), "Oh Boy! Pillsbury Doughboy Turns 25!"<br />

September 20.<br />

Rob<strong>in</strong>, P. Ansell (1932), Animal Lore <strong>in</strong> English Literature,<br />

London: John Murray.<br />

Sax, Boria (1988), "Anthromorphism <strong>in</strong> Animal Encyclopedias<br />

<strong>of</strong> N<strong>in</strong>eteenth Century America," New York Folklore, 14(1-2):<br />

107-122.<br />

Scott, L<strong>in</strong>da M. (1994), "Images <strong>in</strong> Advertis<strong>in</strong>g: <strong>The</strong> Need for a<br />

<strong>The</strong>ory <strong>of</strong> <strong>Visual</strong> Rhetoric," <strong>Journal</strong> <strong>of</strong> Consumer Research,<br />

21(September): 252-273.<br />

19<br />

Stewart, David W. and David H. Furse (1986), Effective<br />

Television Advertis<strong>in</strong>g: A Study <strong>of</strong> 1000 Commercials,<br />

Lex<strong>in</strong>gton, MA: Lex<strong>in</strong>gton Books.<br />

Strauss, Anselm and Juliet Corb<strong>in</strong> (1990), Basics <strong>of</strong> Qualitative<br />

Research: Grounded <strong>The</strong>ory Procedures and Techniques,<br />

Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.<br />

Szalay, Lorand B. and James Deese (1978), Subjective<br />

Mean<strong>in</strong>g and <strong>Culture</strong>: An Assessment Through Word<br />

Associations, Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.<br />

Zacher, Robert V<strong>in</strong>cent (1967), Advertis<strong>in</strong>g Techniques and<br />

Management, Homewood, IL: Richard D. Irw<strong>in</strong>, Inc.<br />

Barbara Phillips is Pr<strong>of</strong>essor <strong>of</strong> <strong>Market<strong>in</strong>g</strong> at the University <strong>of</strong><br />

Saskatchewan, where she teaches brand<strong>in</strong>g and advertis<strong>in</strong>g<br />

courses. She received her MA and PhD <strong>in</strong> Advertis<strong>in</strong>g from the<br />

University <strong>of</strong> Texas at Aust<strong>in</strong>; her undergraduate degree <strong>in</strong> <strong>Market<strong>in</strong>g</strong><br />

is from the University <strong>of</strong> Manitoba. Dr. Phillips’ research program<br />

focuses on visual images <strong>in</strong> advertis<strong>in</strong>g and their <strong>in</strong>fluence on<br />

consumer response. She has won several teach<strong>in</strong>g awards and has<br />

published <strong>in</strong> peer-reviewed journals, books, and conference<br />

proceed<strong>in</strong>gs, such as the <strong>Journal</strong> <strong>of</strong> Consumer Research, <strong>Journal</strong> <strong>of</strong><br />

Advertis<strong>in</strong>g and <strong>Market<strong>in</strong>g</strong> <strong>The</strong>ory. Along with Dr. Edward McQuarrie,<br />

she has received the "Best Article" award <strong>in</strong> the <strong>Journal</strong> <strong>of</strong><br />

Advertis<strong>in</strong>g and the Dunn Award from the University <strong>of</strong> Ill<strong>in</strong>ois for<br />

"excellence <strong>in</strong> advertis<strong>in</strong>g research."<br />

Barbara J. Phillips (1996), "ADVERTISING AND THE CULTURAL MEANING<br />

OF ANIMALS," was orig<strong>in</strong>ally published <strong>in</strong> ‘Advances <strong>in</strong> Consumer<br />

Research’ Volume 23, eds. Kim P. Corfman and John G. Lynch Jr.,<br />

Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 354-360.<br />

<strong>The</strong> text is here repr<strong>in</strong>ted with k<strong>in</strong>d permission <strong>of</strong> the author and with<br />

many thanks to the ASSOCIATION FOR CONSUMER RESEARCH, Duluth,<br />


S<br />

low Food’s aim is to foster an ethical<br />

reflection about food consumption and<br />

waste, encourag<strong>in</strong>g people to become<br />

more careful consumers with regards to the<br />

environmental crisis and to cul<strong>in</strong>ary local<br />

traditions. In this perspective, animals are not<br />

mere objects, but sentient be<strong>in</strong>gs liv<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> a<br />

complex web <strong>of</strong> relations with human be<strong>in</strong>gs and<br />

the environment, and carefully looked after by<br />

wise and skilled farmers. Healthy and susta<strong>in</strong>able<br />

meat means happy meat, com<strong>in</strong>g from happy<br />

animals.<br />

In l<strong>in</strong>e with this philosophy, there are many<br />

<strong>in</strong>itiatives <strong>in</strong> Italy aimed at restor<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

relationship between people and their food, to<br />

improve their health and more susta<strong>in</strong>able eat<strong>in</strong>g<br />

practices. People are able to meet happy pigs,<br />

cows, chickens, to visit their farms without a sense<br />

<strong>of</strong> revulsion for their imprisoned lives, and to<br />

experience a relationship with them, sentient and<br />

social be<strong>in</strong>gs as they are, just like us. After all, it is<br />

not only Hannibal the Cannibal’s privilege to have<br />

friends for d<strong>in</strong>ner.<br />

<strong>The</strong> advertis<strong>in</strong>g campaign <strong>The</strong> young face<br />

<strong>of</strong> agriculture, launched by the Lombardy Region<br />

for the exhibition at the Museo Nazionale della<br />

Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da V<strong>in</strong>ci,<br />

pr<strong>of</strong>its from the ‘happy meat philosophy’ as a<br />

communicative strategy <strong>of</strong> the rural development<br />

<strong>in</strong> Lombardy. <strong>The</strong> aim is to create a bond<br />




<strong>The</strong> city <strong>of</strong> Milan will host Expo 2015, with the theme “Feed<strong>in</strong>g the Planet. Energy for Life”. In view <strong>of</strong> this<br />

occasion, the <strong>in</strong>terest for cul<strong>in</strong>ary tradition and the global challenge <strong>of</strong> food security is rapidly grow<strong>in</strong>g. Farm<strong>in</strong>g<br />

and livestock rais<strong>in</strong>g traditions plays a major role <strong>in</strong> Italy, homeland <strong>of</strong> the worldwide renowned Slow Food.<br />

Text by Adele Tiengo and Leonardo Caffo<br />

20<br />

between the eater and the eaten, underl<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g<br />

that this k<strong>in</strong>d <strong>of</strong> food is traditional and healthy. <strong>The</strong><br />

images seems to claim that there is no need to<br />

worry, animals are treated just as we would like<br />

them to be, healthily and humanely. Cows, pigs,<br />

and ducks would put their face on this bus<strong>in</strong>ess,<br />

so why don’t we just put ours? <strong>The</strong> campaign is<br />

directed both to organic and local food <strong>in</strong>dustry<br />

and it pr<strong>of</strong>its from the ‘green’ image <strong>of</strong> the good<br />

shepherd who personally takes care <strong>of</strong> his<br />

animals, grant<strong>in</strong>g them the well-be<strong>in</strong>g that is<br />

necessary to keep them healthy and, obviously,<br />

tasty. Ethical dilemmas on the exploitation and<br />

kill<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> animals are washed away by localism,<br />

susta<strong>in</strong>ability, and tradition.<br />

In the green<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> the food <strong>in</strong>dustry,<br />

slaughterhouses can actually have glass walls,<br />

because the consumer is ethically numbed and<br />

conv<strong>in</strong>ced that animals must die to feed people,<br />

and farmers are work<strong>in</strong>g to do it <strong>in</strong> the best<br />

possible way. <strong>Animals</strong> are no more ‘absent<br />

referents’ (Adams 1990), but <strong>in</strong> their presence<br />

their ‘sacrifice’ is legitimized by tradition. <strong>The</strong>re<br />

can be many different speciesist approaches to<br />

the animal otherness, but they all usually fall<br />

under two ma<strong>in</strong> categories: those that recognize<br />

animals as subjects, and those that do not. <strong>The</strong><br />

latter has been highly discussed by philosophers<br />

that, like Descartes, see animals as automata, as<br />

matter at human be<strong>in</strong>gs’ disposal.

Regione Lombardia<br />

L’Agricoltura Cambia Faccia alla Tua Vita (Agriculture Changes the Face <strong>of</strong> Your Life) Regione Lombardia<br />


Regione Lombardia<br />

L’Agricoltura Cambia Faccia alla Tua Vita (Agriculture<br />

Changes the Face <strong>of</strong> Your Life) Regione Lombardia<br />

On the contrary, the former perspective,<br />

accord<strong>in</strong>g to which animals are recognized as<br />

sentient subjects and liv<strong>in</strong>g others, is assumed by<br />

the new category <strong>of</strong> the ‘bio-carnivores’, people<br />

<strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>gly <strong>in</strong>formed about the risks for their<br />

health and, sometimes, for the environment. <strong>The</strong><br />

approach <strong>of</strong> this group <strong>of</strong> well-<strong>in</strong>formed people<br />

makes it easier to digest the exploitation and<br />

kill<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> animals, because their suffer<strong>in</strong>g and<br />

privation is made less apparent by claims <strong>of</strong><br />

tradition and susta<strong>in</strong>ability. Moreover, s<strong>in</strong>ce the<br />

relationship with animal subjects is restored, the<br />

kill<strong>in</strong>g is a much more serious act <strong>in</strong> ethical terms.<br />

Along with the bio-carnivores, this<br />

advertisement appeals to the category <strong>of</strong> the<br />

locavores. <strong>The</strong> locavores are those people that<br />

eat only local and seasonally available food. <strong>The</strong><br />

word was co<strong>in</strong>ed <strong>in</strong> 2005 by four women <strong>in</strong> San<br />

Francisco and <strong>in</strong> 2007 it was elected as Word <strong>of</strong><br />

the Year by the New Oxford America Dictionary [1] .<br />

Many locavores follows the arguments proposed<br />

by Michael Pollan (2006) <strong>in</strong> his widely known <strong>The</strong><br />

Omnivore Dilemma, <strong>in</strong> which he claims that<br />

susta<strong>in</strong>ably raised local meat is more<br />

environmental friendly than a vegan/vegetarian<br />

22<br />

diet. <strong>The</strong>ir diet certa<strong>in</strong>ly opposes the negative<br />

effects <strong>of</strong> globalization, but <strong>in</strong> do<strong>in</strong>g so it appeals<br />

to a pastoral ideal <strong>of</strong> pure and local based<br />

lifestyle that has never existed and that – provided<br />

that it is more environmentally susta<strong>in</strong>able –<br />

certa<strong>in</strong>ly it would not susta<strong>in</strong> the ever-grow<strong>in</strong>g<br />

nutritional needs <strong>of</strong> the human population. As<br />

Vasile Stnescu (2009) clearly shows, Pollan<br />

argues aga<strong>in</strong>st organic meat because it<br />

«represents a false pastoral narrative, someth<strong>in</strong>g<br />

produced by the power <strong>of</strong> well crafted words and<br />

images yet lack<strong>in</strong>g ethical consistency, reality, or<br />

ultimately an awareness <strong>of</strong> animals<br />

themselves» (Stnescu 2009, 9), but he can<br />

easily be accused <strong>of</strong> us<strong>in</strong>g the same false<br />

pastoral narrative <strong>in</strong> his defense <strong>of</strong> local meat.<br />

In the image, the human-animal<br />

hybrydization is exploited to assure the consumer<br />

that the milk or salami they would like to buy are<br />

perfectly safe and approved by their ‘providers’:<br />

cows and pigs are the young faces <strong>of</strong> the<br />

agricultural bus<strong>in</strong>ess, will<strong>in</strong>g to feed human<br />

be<strong>in</strong>gs’ voraciousness. On their part, human<br />

be<strong>in</strong>gs become well aware <strong>of</strong> the orig<strong>in</strong>s <strong>of</strong> their<br />

food. <strong>The</strong> absent referent – a concept that<br />

makes the massacre <strong>of</strong> the animals <strong>in</strong>visible and<br />

the disregarded eat<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> meat possible – is<br />

present aga<strong>in</strong>. <strong>Animals</strong> are subjects aga<strong>in</strong> and<br />

the advertisement, even though display<strong>in</strong>g an<br />

hybridization <strong>of</strong> human and animal bodies, is not<br />

perceived as ridiculous or outrageous.<br />

Nonetheless, animals do not deserve an ethical<br />

treatment that overcomes mere considerations <strong>of</strong><br />

utility and pr<strong>of</strong>it.<br />

References<br />

Adams, Carol J. <strong>The</strong> Sexual Politics <strong>of</strong> Meat. Twentieth Anniversary Edition (2010). New York:<br />

Cont<strong>in</strong>uum, 1990.<br />

Cole, Matthew. "From 'Animal Mach<strong>in</strong>es' to 'Happy Meat'? Foucault’s Ideas <strong>of</strong> Discipl<strong>in</strong>ary<br />

and Pastoral Power Applied to ‘Animal-Centred’ Welfare Discourse." <strong>Animals</strong> 1, no. 1 (2011):<br />

83-101.<br />

OUPblog. Oxfor University Press, http://blog.oup.com/2007/11/locavore/ (accessed March 6,<br />

2012).<br />

Pollan, Michael. <strong>The</strong> Omnivore Dilemma. A Natural History <strong>of</strong> Four Meals. New York: Pengu<strong>in</strong>,<br />

2006.<br />

Stnescu, Vasile. "'Green' Eggs and Ham? <strong>The</strong> Myth <strong>of</strong> Susta<strong>in</strong>able Meat and the Danger <strong>of</strong><br />

the Local." <strong>The</strong> <strong>Journal</strong> <strong>of</strong> Critical Animal Studies VII, no. 3 (2009): 18-55.<br />

Leonardo Caffo is Phd Candidate at University <strong>of</strong> Tor<strong>in</strong>o (Italy),<br />

member <strong>of</strong> Labont: laboratory for ontology andAssociate Fellow<br />

<strong>of</strong> Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. Is editor <strong>in</strong> chief <strong>of</strong> "Animal<br />

Studies" - his latest book is La possibilità di cambiare: azioni<br />

umane e libertà morali (Mimesis: Milan 2012).<br />

For Adele Tiengo’s biography please see page 8

Concern about the impact <strong>of</strong> livestock on the environment has generated debates about how best to manage<br />

dairy farm<strong>in</strong>g practices. Soil erosion and compaction and loss <strong>of</strong> biodiversity from graz<strong>in</strong>g and silage production,<br />

ammonia and methane emissions, as well as high levels <strong>of</strong> water consumption, have all been identified as direct<br />

effects on the environment from dairy farm<strong>in</strong>g activity. [i] Whilst the issues have been well reported <strong>in</strong> the press,<br />

there has been little <strong>in</strong> the way <strong>of</strong> imagery to accompany the environmental critique <strong>of</strong> milk production. Instead,<br />

much <strong>of</strong> the popularly available imagery <strong>of</strong> dairy farm<strong>in</strong>g has been generated by advertis<strong>in</strong>g which cont<strong>in</strong>ues to<br />

deploy culturally-specific visions <strong>of</strong> contented cows <strong>in</strong> rural landscapes.<br />

Text by Claire Molloy<br />

W<br />

ith little actual access to farmed animal<br />

spaces, the majority <strong>of</strong> western urbandwellers’<br />

experiences <strong>of</strong> livestock and<br />

farm<strong>in</strong>g practices are heavily mediated, <strong>of</strong>ten<br />

through food advertis<strong>in</strong>g. In such cases, the<br />

discourse <strong>of</strong> farm<strong>in</strong>g and the spaces <strong>in</strong> which<br />

animals are farmed are constructed to appeal to<br />

the consumer, and both implicitly and explicitly<br />

<strong>of</strong>fer reassurance that farmed animals are<br />

healthy and emotionally satisfied. Advertisements<br />

for dairy products <strong>of</strong>fer imagery that relies on<br />

previously established associations between cows<br />

and green fields to susta<strong>in</strong> mean<strong>in</strong>gs, such as<br />

“natural” and “healthy,” which are then assigned<br />

to dairy products. In turn, the imagery re<strong>in</strong>forces<br />

associations between cows and their freedom to<br />

roam <strong>in</strong> natural surround<strong>in</strong>gs, ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g<br />

connections between dairy cows’ lack <strong>of</strong><br />

conf<strong>in</strong>ement and their will<strong>in</strong>g productivity. Dairy<br />

farm<strong>in</strong>g thus ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong>s strong cultural associations<br />

with natural landscapes and rural tranquillity, and<br />

such practices occupy a zone <strong>in</strong> the cultural<br />


AND THE<br />



23<br />

imag<strong>in</strong>ation that is markedly removed from the<br />

urban <strong>in</strong>dustrial experience.<br />

In reality, eighty per cent <strong>of</strong> the UK<br />

landscape has been shaped by farm<strong>in</strong>g<br />

practices. [ii] As a result, the <strong>in</strong>dustry has a major<br />

impact on both the management <strong>of</strong> land and<br />

the development <strong>of</strong> the landscape. In 2006,<br />

agriculture accounted for seventy-seven per cent<br />

<strong>of</strong> land use <strong>in</strong> the UK, amount<strong>in</strong>g to 18.5 million<br />

hectares, <strong>of</strong> which, around thirty-eight per cent is<br />

grass and thirty per cent is land, given over to<br />

rough graz<strong>in</strong>g for domestic livestock. Employ<strong>in</strong>g<br />

over half a million people, the value <strong>of</strong> farm<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

the UK economy is substantial, generat<strong>in</strong>g around<br />

£5.6 billion per year, <strong>of</strong> which the livestock<br />

<strong>in</strong>dustry accounts for £7,351 million <strong>of</strong><br />

output. [iii] <strong>The</strong> comb<strong>in</strong>ed UK cow population<br />

numbers, around 3.8 million, and <strong>of</strong> these the<br />

larger proportion, slightly over 2 million, are dairy<br />

cows. Decreases <strong>in</strong> the dairy cow population over<br />

fifty years from 2.6 million, <strong>in</strong> 1956, [iv] reflect<br />

changes <strong>in</strong> livestock management, policy,

Ed Edwards and Dave Masterman<br />

Made by Cows S<strong>in</strong>ce 1886, Anchor Orig<strong>in</strong>al Butter Co. CHI and Partners, London CHI and Partners<br />

regulation, and farm<strong>in</strong>g practices. In short, fewer<br />

cows are now produc<strong>in</strong>g more milk. Indeed, dairy<br />

cows deliver the greatest proportion <strong>of</strong> output<br />

generated by livestock farm<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> the UK, which,<br />

<strong>in</strong> 2006, accounted for £2,501 million worth <strong>of</strong><br />

product. In terms <strong>of</strong> land management, UK dairy<br />

farms cont<strong>in</strong>ue to use hedges and dry stone walls<br />

to divide fields and, consequently, milk<br />

production shapes the rural landscape.<br />

Although it is a New Zealand brand,<br />

Anchor Butter advertis<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> the UK has utilised a<br />

range <strong>of</strong> mean<strong>in</strong>gs derived from the symbolic<br />

relationships between cows and the landscape.<br />

Throughout the campaigns <strong>of</strong> the 1990’s, the<br />

television advertisements featured Jersey dairy<br />

cows, despite the fact that the majority <strong>of</strong> New<br />

Zealand’s four million dairy cows were black and<br />

white Holste<strong>in</strong>-Freisans. [v] With a “s<strong>of</strong>ter” and more<br />

appeal<strong>in</strong>g “look,” Jersey cows were referred to as<br />

“lucky cows,” depicted <strong>in</strong> lush green fields<br />

danc<strong>in</strong>g, s<strong>in</strong>g<strong>in</strong>g and proclaim<strong>in</strong>g their good<br />

fortune at be<strong>in</strong>g able to “chew the cud and<br />

browse.” An emphasis was placed on the<br />

consumption <strong>of</strong> “green green grass” as the<br />

relationship between cows and spaces reworked<br />

the production cycle <strong>of</strong> milk so that the quality <strong>of</strong><br />

the f<strong>in</strong>al product, butter, was entirely dependent<br />

on the consumption <strong>of</strong> high quality pasture. Such<br />

imagery short-circuited the realities <strong>of</strong> the<br />

processes by which cows are farmed and bov<strong>in</strong>e<br />

lactation is managed, and <strong>in</strong>stead reduced the<br />

cycle to a simplified, and less ethically<br />

24<br />

problematic, process <strong>of</strong> “grass <strong>in</strong>- butter out.”<br />

Each advertisement <strong>in</strong> the “lucky cow”<br />

campaign <strong>in</strong>cluded some manner <strong>of</strong> enclosure,<br />

which ranged from white picket fenc<strong>in</strong>g, to<br />

wooden ranch-style fenc<strong>in</strong>g, and traditional British<br />

hedgerows. This changed <strong>in</strong> the next campaign<br />

which sought to reflect the company’s awareness<br />

<strong>of</strong> consumer concerns about welfare standards.<br />

As a result, the mean<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>of</strong> green spaces and<br />

landscape were re-worked to operate with<strong>in</strong> a<br />

discourse <strong>of</strong> welfare. Repositioned as the “freerange<br />

butter company,” Anchor advertisements<br />

replaced live action commercials with animated<br />

cows that appeared to be made from “Fuzzy<br />

Felt:” s<strong>of</strong>t fabric shapes that were popularly<br />

recognisable and sold as a children’s toy <strong>in</strong> the<br />

UK. No longer restricted to representations <strong>of</strong><br />

Jersey cows, the advertisements also depicted<br />

black and white and brown cows, references to<br />

Holste<strong>in</strong>-Freisans and Ayshire breeds. In the<br />

television advertisements, an animated cow<br />

kicked its way out <strong>of</strong> a shed, with an<br />

accompany<strong>in</strong>g voice-over that stated: “<strong>The</strong>re’s<br />

no such th<strong>in</strong>g as the great <strong>in</strong>doors. Only our cows<br />

are free to roam all year round.” In other ads, two<br />

cows studied a map <strong>of</strong> their extensive available<br />

space and another kicked <strong>of</strong>f human footwear<br />

whilst a voice-over declared “If cows were meant<br />

to be kept <strong>in</strong>doors they’d be born with<br />

slippers.” Intertextual references to the film <strong>The</strong><br />

Great Escape were used <strong>in</strong> a further<br />

advertisement that depicted a cow on a

Ed Edwards and Dave Masterman<br />

<strong>The</strong> Great Escape, Anchor Orig<strong>in</strong>al Butter Co. CHI and Partners, London CHI and Partners<br />

motorcycle try<strong>in</strong>g to jump a fence to escape<br />

from farmers armed with pitchforks. <strong>The</strong> advert<br />

used the film’s title music and the sett<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

although visually stripped-back to <strong>in</strong>corporate<br />

impressions <strong>of</strong> snow topped peaks; rem<strong>in</strong>iscent <strong>of</strong><br />

the familiar alp<strong>in</strong>e sett<strong>in</strong>g used for the orig<strong>in</strong>al<br />

motorcycle chase scene with Steve McQueen.<br />

Pr<strong>in</strong>t advertisements that accompanied the freerange<br />

campaign used Polaroid pictures <strong>of</strong> cows<br />

<strong>in</strong> front <strong>of</strong> well-known landmarks such as the Eifel<br />

Tower and a pyramid, with the strapl<strong>in</strong>e: ”Our<br />

cows are free to roam.”<br />

Concerns were raised about the<br />

company’s depiction <strong>of</strong> “happy cows,” and the<br />

free-range campaign received public criticism <strong>in</strong><br />

1997 when an advert that depicted a calf<br />

“hatch<strong>in</strong>g” from an egg then relax<strong>in</strong>g with its<br />

mother amongst other contented Jersey cows<br />

attracted fifty-four viewer compla<strong>in</strong>ts to the<br />

Independent Television Commission. Public<br />

objections to the advertisement were reported by<br />

the ITC as <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g:<br />

a) that the use <strong>of</strong> the term "free-range"<br />

implied the cows used to produce Anchor<br />

are allowed to keep their calves with<br />

them, are <strong>in</strong> pasture all year round or are<br />

more humanely treated than usual.<br />

25<br />

(Some farmers amongst the<br />

compla<strong>in</strong>ants po<strong>in</strong>ted out that cattle<br />

<strong>in</strong> New Zealand traditionally have their<br />

tailsdocked);<br />

b) that Anchor butter is no more natural or<br />

pure than other brands;<br />

(ITC, 1997, ”Anchor Butter”)<br />

None <strong>of</strong> the compla<strong>in</strong>ts were upheld by the ITC,<br />

which, <strong>in</strong> its assessment <strong>of</strong> the objections, stated<br />

that the advertiser had confirmed that “the New<br />

Zealand cows used to produce Anchor Butter<br />

were kept <strong>in</strong> pasture all year round which justified<br />

the use <strong>of</strong> the term ‘free-range’” (ITC, 1997). <strong>The</strong><br />

compla<strong>in</strong>ts regard<strong>in</strong>g the implication that calves<br />

stayed with their mothers received no response<br />

from the ITC, although the issue <strong>of</strong> tail-dock<strong>in</strong>g<br />

was accounted for <strong>in</strong> the follow<strong>in</strong>g way: “<strong>The</strong><br />

animals shown <strong>in</strong> the commercial had not had<br />

their tails docked but the ITC did not th<strong>in</strong>k that<br />

<strong>in</strong>accuracy was significant enough to make the<br />

advertis<strong>in</strong>g mislead<strong>in</strong>g” (ITC, 1997). Furthermore<br />

the report noted that “<strong>The</strong> ITC did not th<strong>in</strong>k the<br />

commercial implied that Anchor is better than<br />

other brands, rather that be<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> pasture all year<br />

is a more ‘natural’ existence” (ITC, 1997). Although<br />

consumer objections to Anchor Butter advertis<strong>in</strong>g<br />

were directed toward the misrepresentation <strong>of</strong>

WPP Agency Grey London<br />

It’s Not About Great Brita<strong>in</strong> WPP Agency Grey London<br />

farm<strong>in</strong>g practices and demonstrated tensions<br />

between <strong>in</strong>terpretations <strong>of</strong> the advertisement and<br />

concerns over the implied mean<strong>in</strong>gs about cow<br />

welfare, the ITC’s response made it clear that<br />

what was at issue was the representation <strong>of</strong> the<br />

product and not the misrepresentation <strong>of</strong> the<br />

realities <strong>of</strong> the lives <strong>of</strong> dairy cows.<br />

In an attempt to recover butter-mak<strong>in</strong>g<br />

with<strong>in</strong> the discourse <strong>of</strong> tradition, a 2010 Anchor<br />

Butter commercial returned to live action and<br />

depicted cows leav<strong>in</strong>g the fields to work <strong>in</strong> a<br />

factory with the strap-l<strong>in</strong>e: “Made by cows s<strong>in</strong>ce<br />

1886.” <strong>The</strong> aim <strong>of</strong> the £10 million campaign was<br />

to position the company as the “Orig<strong>in</strong>al Butter<br />

Co.” [vi] A country music version <strong>of</strong> the Guns N’<br />

Roses song Paradise City with the lyrics: “Take me<br />

down to a paradise city, where the grass is green<br />

and the girls are pretty, oh won’t you please take<br />

me home” accompanied images <strong>of</strong> cows<br />

“clock<strong>in</strong>g-on,” operat<strong>in</strong>g production mach<strong>in</strong>ery,<br />

perform<strong>in</strong>g quality checks, and packag<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

butter for delivery <strong>in</strong> a n<strong>in</strong>eteenth century factory<br />

sett<strong>in</strong>g hous<strong>in</strong>g contemporary <strong>in</strong>dustrial<br />

technologies. In the simulation <strong>of</strong> n<strong>in</strong>eteenth<br />

century factory production, the advert reimag<strong>in</strong>ed<br />

the relationship between cows and milk<br />

by exclud<strong>in</strong>g the process <strong>of</strong> milk<strong>in</strong>g. Rather than<br />

“produc<strong>in</strong>g milk,” cows “make butter.” In<br />

construct<strong>in</strong>g new associations between the<br />

company and tradition, Anchor Butter also shed<br />

its “free-range” identity. And although the<br />

advertisement placed cows with<strong>in</strong> the conf<strong>in</strong>es <strong>of</strong><br />

the factory sett<strong>in</strong>g, tak<strong>in</strong>g on the humanised roles<br />

<strong>of</strong> operatives, the concept <strong>of</strong> the advertisement<br />

suggested that butter-mak<strong>in</strong>g reta<strong>in</strong>ed l<strong>in</strong>ks with<br />

traditional agricultural and <strong>in</strong>dustrial practices. <strong>The</strong><br />

open<strong>in</strong>g and clos<strong>in</strong>g images still drew directly on<br />

the aesthetic traditions <strong>of</strong> n<strong>in</strong>eteenth century<br />

British landscape pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g with large romanticised<br />

26<br />

landscapes at daybreak and sunset. In this way, a<br />

nostalgia discourse framed butter-mak<strong>in</strong>g as<br />

traditional and the company as hav<strong>in</strong>g<br />

authenticity through the rather surreal imagery <strong>of</strong><br />

cows be<strong>in</strong>g happily complicit <strong>in</strong> their own<br />

exploitation.<br />

A challenge to the Anchor campaign<br />

came <strong>in</strong> the form <strong>of</strong> a counter-campaign by<br />

Country Life Butter, which used the former<br />

member <strong>of</strong> the 1970’s punk band <strong>The</strong> Sex Pistols,<br />

John Lydon, to front its advertis<strong>in</strong>g. <strong>The</strong> central<br />

message <strong>of</strong> the campaign was that Country Life<br />

Butter is British and Anchor Butter is from New<br />

Zealand. <strong>The</strong> Country Life campaign underscored<br />

how robust the associations were between the<br />

Anchor Butter brand and national identity, and<br />

the counter-campaign sought to dismantle those<br />

mean<strong>in</strong>gs and reclaim imagery <strong>of</strong> “British” cows<br />

and countryside. <strong>The</strong> television advertisement<br />

showed John Lydon experienc<strong>in</strong>g various aspects<br />

<strong>of</strong> British rural life: the British countryside was<br />

depicted as sheep on a country lane, and the<br />

concept <strong>of</strong> “British milk” was represented by black<br />

and white cows chas<strong>in</strong>g Lydon through an<br />

expanse <strong>of</strong> green fields. <strong>The</strong> pack shot at the end<br />

<strong>of</strong> the advertisement returned to the image <strong>of</strong><br />

open green fields. <strong>The</strong> pr<strong>in</strong>t adverts that were<br />

placed <strong>in</strong> broadsheets and the popular press<br />

used an image <strong>of</strong> Lydon burst<strong>in</strong>g through the<br />

page <strong>of</strong> the newspaper under the “headl<strong>in</strong>es:”<br />

”Revealed: Anchor Butter is from New Zealand”<br />

(broadsheet advertisement, July 2010); and<br />

“Anchor’s from New Zealand” (tabloid<br />

advertisement, July 2010). <strong>The</strong> campaigns<br />

mounted by Anchor and Country Life revealed<br />

the high <strong>in</strong>vestment <strong>of</strong> mean<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> cows and the<br />

landscape, and by extension, the commercial<br />

value <strong>of</strong> both.<br />

Macnaughten and Urry argue that<br />

representations <strong>of</strong> natural space are socially and<br />

symbolically produced and that “different<br />

features <strong>of</strong> the landscape are celebrated with<strong>in</strong><br />

different societies” (Macnaughten and Urry, 1998,<br />

p.182). <strong>The</strong> spaces appropriated <strong>in</strong> advertis<strong>in</strong>g by<br />

Anchor Butter, for the UK market, and Country Life,<br />

borrowed from established conventions <strong>of</strong><br />

represent<strong>in</strong>g “the countryside” as peaceful, green<br />

and fertile, and symbolically opposed to the<br />

<strong>in</strong>dustrialisation <strong>of</strong> towns and cities. In this way, the<br />

production <strong>of</strong> mean<strong>in</strong>gs around cows and<br />

landscape are mutually re<strong>in</strong>forc<strong>in</strong>g. Landscape<br />

can operate through a multiplicity <strong>of</strong> discourses<br />

as a form <strong>of</strong> nostalgia that recalls an idealised<br />

past and as a symbol <strong>of</strong> freedom, <strong>of</strong><br />

“naturalness,” and <strong>in</strong> opposition to<br />

<strong>in</strong>dustrialisation. Each <strong>of</strong> these mean<strong>in</strong>gs

translates <strong>in</strong>to context for the bov<strong>in</strong>e body, which<br />

is then understood as part <strong>of</strong> a cultural and social<br />

heritage, and which, <strong>in</strong> turn, reproduces the<br />

sense that cows have always had freedom to<br />

roam and have always been apart from<br />

<strong>in</strong>dustrialisation. Locat<strong>in</strong>g cows with<strong>in</strong> the<br />

idealised landscapes <strong>of</strong> a particular country or<br />

region thus re<strong>in</strong>forces symbolic associations<br />

between a sense <strong>of</strong> place, conceived through<br />

the highly organised imagery <strong>of</strong> the natural world,<br />

and the ”naturalness” <strong>of</strong> the life <strong>of</strong> a dairy cow. In<br />

do<strong>in</strong>g this, the connections allude to milk<br />

production as a wholesome process that takes<br />

place <strong>in</strong> only the most ideal <strong>of</strong> locations. A<br />

proliferation <strong>of</strong> cow imagery <strong>in</strong> UK advertis<strong>in</strong>g<br />

suggests that, at a symbolic level, some animals<br />

are more economically significant than others.<br />

This concurs with a 2002 survey <strong>in</strong> which cows<br />

appeared as the eighth most effective animal for<br />

advertis<strong>in</strong>g purposes.<br />

One reason for the popularity <strong>of</strong> cows (as<br />

images) may be that their mean<strong>in</strong>gs with<strong>in</strong> the<br />

circuits <strong>of</strong> capitalism have a legacy <strong>in</strong> n<strong>in</strong>eteenth<br />

century landscape pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g, where benign<br />

bov<strong>in</strong>e bodies have long been associated with a<br />

calm and tranquil British rural life - a culturally<br />

imag<strong>in</strong>ed antidote to <strong>in</strong>dustrialisation and<br />

urbanisation. In this way, the reality <strong>of</strong> the bov<strong>in</strong>e<br />

experience has been mediated by landscape<br />

pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g and remediated by the advertis<strong>in</strong>g<br />

discourses discussed here. <strong>The</strong> landscapes take<br />

on new mean<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>in</strong> the light <strong>of</strong> welfare<br />

discourses. Open spaces that signalled non<strong>in</strong>dustrialisation<br />

are transformed by welfare<br />

discourses which reconfigure the landscape as<br />

an ethical space through associations with the<br />

mean<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>of</strong> “free-range” and “free-to-roam.” As<br />

a result, <strong>in</strong> advertis<strong>in</strong>g for dairy-related products,<br />

agricultural spaces overlap with the mean<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

and values that are assigned to nature and “the<br />

countryside,” and these <strong>in</strong> turn close down the<br />

opportunities for questions about welfare<br />

standards and reduce dairy farm<strong>in</strong>g practices to<br />

an extremely narrow range <strong>of</strong> representations.<br />

References<br />

[i] Source: Defra (2008) <strong>The</strong> Environmental Impact <strong>of</strong> Livestock<br />

Production<br />

[ii] Source: <strong>The</strong> National Trust (2001) Farm<strong>in</strong>g Forward<br />

[iii] Source: Defra (2008) <strong>The</strong> Environmental Impact <strong>of</strong> Livestock<br />

Production.<br />

[iv] Source: Miller & Robertson, 1959, p.432.<br />

27<br />

[v] Source: NZ Government website, “Dairy cattle numbers<br />

1895-2005” onl<strong>in</strong>e at http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/dairy<strong>in</strong>g-<br />

and-dairy-products/10/1/1 [accessed 4 May 2010].<br />

[vi] Source: <strong>Market<strong>in</strong>g</strong> Week, 26 February 2010 onl<strong>in</strong>e at<br />

http://www.market<strong>in</strong>gweek.co.uk/news/anchor-launches-<br />

%C2%A310m-ad-push-to-support-brandreposition<strong>in</strong>g/3010501.article<br />

[accessed 3 March 2010].<br />

This piece is adapted with permission from ‘Farmed: Sell<strong>in</strong>g Animal<br />

Products’ <strong>in</strong> Popular Media and <strong>Animals</strong> (Molloy, 2012).<br />

Pr<strong>of</strong>essor Claire Molloy is Pr<strong>of</strong>essor <strong>of</strong> Film, Television and Digital<br />

Media at Edge Hill University. Her publications <strong>in</strong>clude the books:<br />

Popular Media and <strong>Animals</strong> (2012), Memento (2010), Beyond<br />

Human:xfrom animality to transhumanism (2011) and American<br />

IndependentxC<strong>in</strong>ema: <strong>in</strong>die, <strong>in</strong>diewood and beyond.


A white dog with brown ears sits <strong>in</strong> front <strong>of</strong> a gramophone, head directed to its brass-horn and slightly tilted to one<br />

side. <strong>The</strong> orig<strong>in</strong>al pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g was purchased <strong>in</strong> 1899, along with its full copyright, by the emerg<strong>in</strong>g Gramophone<br />

Company from the artist Francis Barraud.<br />

Text by Concepcion Cortes Zulueta<br />

Francis Barraud<br />

His Master’s Voice, Oil on Canvas, 1899 His Master’s Voice<br />


T<br />

here seems to be some confusion regard<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the early history <strong>of</strong> the pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g: if it was<br />

made while Nipper, the dog, was still alive; if<br />

it is based or not on a photograph; what was<br />

Barraud’s <strong>in</strong>itial plan; what was the phonograph,<br />

then replaced by a gramophone, supposedly<br />

play<strong>in</strong>g, or whose idea was its f<strong>in</strong>al title, among<br />

others. What rema<strong>in</strong>s obvious, though, is the<br />

worldwide diffusion <strong>of</strong> an image that acted and<br />

has been used both as a brand and as an<br />

advertisement by several companies, past and<br />

present.<br />

Apart from the mystery surround<strong>in</strong>g its<br />

historical details, the legend accompany<strong>in</strong>g this<br />

domestic scene shared more or less the same<br />

features everywhere. In fact this myth is what<br />

fasc<strong>in</strong>ates me the most. As for its overall content I<br />

feel <strong>in</strong>cl<strong>in</strong>ed to keep the version <strong>of</strong>fered by my<br />

Spanish parents, born <strong>in</strong> the fifties, when feign<strong>in</strong>g<br />

ignorance I asked them if the phrase “la voz de<br />

su amo” - literally, “his master’s voice”- sounded<br />

familiar to them. Both burst out: “<strong>of</strong> course!”,<br />

talked about records and then took turns to<br />

expla<strong>in</strong> the touch<strong>in</strong>g story <strong>of</strong> the dog who froze<br />

close to a gramophone play<strong>in</strong>g the voice <strong>of</strong> his<br />

late master, seem<strong>in</strong>gly recognis<strong>in</strong>g it and maybe<br />

try<strong>in</strong>g to make sense <strong>of</strong> what was happen<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

Besides the cuteness <strong>of</strong> the little dog, it is<br />

plausible a considerable chunk <strong>of</strong> the strength<br />

and virality <strong>of</strong> the picture lie <strong>in</strong> the questions<br />

po<strong>in</strong>ted out by those two words, seem<strong>in</strong>g and<br />

maybe. Do dogs identify the sounds com<strong>in</strong>g out<br />

<strong>of</strong> gramophones as someone’s voice? Many<br />

people, common people, guided by the slightly<br />

cocked head and their own experiences would<br />

answer positively, stat<strong>in</strong>g that dogs do identify<br />

people’s voices <strong>in</strong> record<strong>in</strong>gs and react to them,<br />

<strong>in</strong> some way or another. But are dogs able to<br />

understand these recorded sounds as such, and<br />

not as an actual person? To what level do they<br />

understand what is happen<strong>in</strong>g? This is, <strong>in</strong> fact, a<br />

more complex issue.<br />

In any case, the development <strong>of</strong> devices<br />

that recorded our audiovisual environment<br />

prompted comparisons between our senses and<br />

perception, and those <strong>of</strong> animals. For example,<br />

to what degree they were tuned to each other, if<br />

animals saw, heard and perceived as we did or<br />

not. Recorders <strong>in</strong>terposed another step between<br />

the actual world and perception. A level which<br />

could be easily manipulated and played with,<br />

fabricat<strong>in</strong>g products, such as photographs, films<br />

or audio-record<strong>in</strong>gs, that <strong>in</strong> some circumstances<br />

even posed as reality. But know<strong>in</strong>g what a<br />

gramophone was and what it did, kept ourselves<br />

aware and complicit with its secrets, and safe not<br />

29<br />

to be fooled by the mach<strong>in</strong>e.<br />

However dogs, poor little dogs, were<br />

suspected <strong>of</strong> not be<strong>in</strong>g so smart. So maybe<br />

Nipper did recognise his master’s voice, and sat<br />

there <strong>in</strong>terested, wonder<strong>in</strong>g, head titled to one<br />

side. Nevertheless, apparently he never reached<br />

any f<strong>in</strong>al conclusion. For what we know, he may<br />

be puzzled by the event <strong>in</strong> the same way that he<br />

may not recognise his own reflection on the<br />

brass-horn, or <strong>in</strong> a mirror. This scene was a<br />

harmless alternative to persuade about the fidelity<br />

<strong>of</strong> the recorded sound without the risk <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>of</strong>fend<strong>in</strong>g the <strong>in</strong>telligence <strong>of</strong> the human - male?-<br />

customers, and strengthen<strong>in</strong>g simultaneously their<br />

confidence and dom<strong>in</strong>ant position back at<br />

home, sweet home. Maybe this was not just a<br />

portrait <strong>of</strong> man as master <strong>of</strong> animals and<br />

creation. After all, one could be the master not<br />

only <strong>of</strong> his own dog, but also <strong>of</strong> servants, children,<br />

wife and the whole household.<br />

<strong>The</strong> success <strong>of</strong> the ma<strong>in</strong> strokes <strong>of</strong> this<br />

scheme can be validated by the existence <strong>of</strong><br />

recent variations, very similar although focused <strong>in</strong><br />

sight <strong>in</strong>stead <strong>of</strong> hear<strong>in</strong>g. Like two 2011 Samsung<br />

Galaxy commercials that show a hen and a little<br />

girl deceived by the smart-phone vivid images.<br />

<strong>The</strong> hen, brood<strong>in</strong>g the eggs <strong>in</strong> a screen, and the<br />

girl dropp<strong>in</strong>g the gadget <strong>in</strong>side a goldfish bowl<br />

try<strong>in</strong>g to save a clownfish that was not really there.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re are also plenty <strong>of</strong> Internet videos with dogs<br />

tilt<strong>in</strong>g their heads when faced with persons <strong>in</strong><br />

onl<strong>in</strong>e video-chats. This may be possibly because<br />

we f<strong>in</strong>d that charm<strong>in</strong>g, as well as the floppy and<br />

genetically selected neotenic ears that may<br />

partially cause so much tilt<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> order to avoid<br />

the obstruction <strong>of</strong> the sound waves.<br />

Beyond the puzzlement that we attribute<br />

to the dog, there is another strong emotional<br />

content <strong>in</strong> the pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g. Is Nipper aware <strong>of</strong> what<br />

death is? Is he mourn<strong>in</strong>g his beloved master?<br />

Perhaps to feed our human pride we would feel<br />

tempted to answer that he is, but we don’t know<br />

for sure. On the other hand if the depicted<br />

vignette were a scientific experiment to check if<br />

Nipper possessed a death concept, nowadays it<br />

probably would have been considered as<br />

ethically unacceptable like the experiment <strong>in</strong><br />

which Col<strong>in</strong> Allen and Mark Hauser described and<br />

then challenged, consist<strong>in</strong>g on study<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

reaction <strong>of</strong> a female monkey when listen<strong>in</strong>g to a<br />

recorded call <strong>of</strong> her dead <strong>in</strong>fant. However, the<br />

brown and white dog can be labelled as an<br />

update <strong>of</strong> the Victorian topic <strong>of</strong> the mourn<strong>in</strong>g<br />

dog. A topic also found <strong>in</strong> other times and<br />

cultures. For <strong>in</strong>stance, <strong>in</strong> Japan, where a statue<br />

remembers Hachiko the faithful.

All these melodramatic associations seem<br />

especially suitable for a company devoted to<br />

music, which entangles love, life and death.<br />

Matters perfectly captured <strong>in</strong> what looks like a<br />

pla<strong>in</strong> homey scene. If we mix together these with<br />

the human-animal perception riddle, the<br />

shameless compliment to our amaz<strong>in</strong>g human<br />

abilities and the appeal <strong>of</strong> the dog’s slightly tilted<br />

head, what else could we ask for <strong>in</strong> an ad?<br />

Concepción Cortés Zulueta is a PhD candidate <strong>in</strong> art history at<br />

Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spa<strong>in</strong>. Her thesis project,<br />

<strong>in</strong>terdiscipl<strong>in</strong>ary <strong>in</strong> its scope, focuses <strong>in</strong> the presence <strong>of</strong> non human<br />

animals <strong>in</strong> contemporary art from the '60s to the beg<strong>in</strong>n<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> the<br />

XXIst Century. She explores issues <strong>of</strong> animal agency, perception,<br />

creativity, and changes <strong>in</strong> the attitudes <strong>of</strong> contemporary artists<br />

towards animals. Specially <strong>in</strong> their attempts to collaborate with them.<br />

She has be<strong>in</strong>g do<strong>in</strong>g research stays at National Art Library, V&A,<br />

London; New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies (NZCHAS),<br />

University <strong>of</strong> Canterbury, Christchurch, and she is currently at MIT,<br />

Cambridge, until January 2013.<br />


P<br />

revious academic research look<strong>in</strong>g at how<br />

animals have been portrayed <strong>in</strong> popular<br />

culture – specifically the tabloid press<br />

(Herzog and Galv<strong>in</strong>, 1992), greet<strong>in</strong>gs cards (Arluke<br />

and Bogden, 2010), visual arts (Kal<strong>of</strong> et al. 2011),<br />

and T.V. and pr<strong>in</strong>t adverts (Lerner and Kal<strong>of</strong>, 1999;<br />

Phillips, 1996; Spears et al. 1996) - has generated<br />

a number <strong>of</strong> themes, or roles, <strong>in</strong> which animals<br />

are frequently cast. <strong>The</strong> popular media has <strong>of</strong>ten<br />

used animals as a symbolic and allegorical short<br />

hand to quickly conjure up simple constructs;<br />

loved one, saviour, pest, object <strong>of</strong> wonder,<br />

attacker, and victim, to name a few. <strong>Animals</strong><br />

have also been repeatedly presented <strong>in</strong> roles<br />

such as that <strong>of</strong> human tool and emblem <strong>of</strong><br />

nature at large. However, there are additional,<br />

more complex, factors affect<strong>in</strong>g representation<br />

that have also been identified by previous<br />

research. <strong>The</strong>se <strong>in</strong>clude the degree <strong>of</strong><br />

anthropomorphism <strong>of</strong> the animal, whether social<br />

or moral valuations are made regard<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

animal, if any transformative effects can be seen<br />


Despite the complexities and <strong>in</strong>constancies <strong>of</strong> the human-animal relationship non-human animals [1] have been<br />

<strong>in</strong>timately <strong>in</strong>terwoven with<strong>in</strong> human culture for thousands <strong>of</strong> years. Representations <strong>of</strong> animals exist across many<br />

mediums, with roots clearly visible <strong>in</strong> Palaeolithic cave pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>gs and early carv<strong>in</strong>gs, evolv<strong>in</strong>g human language,<br />

music and drama, and narrative fables and folk stories. Unsurpris<strong>in</strong>gly then animal representations cont<strong>in</strong>ue to be<br />

rife throughout our modern lives and across much popular media.<br />

Text by Cluny South<br />

31<br />

between product and animal, and f<strong>in</strong>ally whether<br />

our understand<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> the mean<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> a product<br />

or an animal is likely to be fundamentally altered<br />

by association with the other. This latter po<strong>in</strong>t, the<br />

potential power <strong>of</strong> popular media to shape the<br />

human-animal relationship, has been notably<br />

considered by Spears et al. (1996), who<br />

constructed a symbolic communications model<br />

(SCM) <strong>in</strong> order to exam<strong>in</strong>e how a culturally<br />

constructed world (CCW) might <strong>in</strong>teract with<br />

representations <strong>of</strong> animals <strong>in</strong> market<strong>in</strong>g contexts.<br />

Such was the backdrop to the study I<br />

decided to carry out when my curiosity was<br />

ignited by a parallel advertis<strong>in</strong>g research project.<br />

My previous <strong>in</strong>dustry experience background <strong>in</strong><br />

factual animal programm<strong>in</strong>g had already amply<br />

fuelled my <strong>in</strong>terest <strong>in</strong> popular animal<br />

representations. For some time I had wonder<strong>in</strong>g if<br />

animals suffered <strong>in</strong> the popular media, a little like<br />

typecast actors, constra<strong>in</strong>ed by culturally<br />

constructed roles - roles that were generated by<br />

human stereotypes and biases <strong>of</strong> what it was like

Fig. 1.<br />

Symbolic communications model (SCM) Nancy Spears<br />

to be a given species? For example, did hyenas<br />

ever get cast as anyth<strong>in</strong>g but the bad guys <strong>in</strong><br />

adverts; were dogs always “mans best friend;”<br />

and were butterflies ever anyth<strong>in</strong>g but beautiful?<br />

Added to this, I now wondered if there were any<br />

signs <strong>of</strong> chang<strong>in</strong>g uses <strong>of</strong> animals <strong>in</strong> advertis<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

and whether different products used animals <strong>in</strong><br />

different ways. F<strong>in</strong>ally I wasn’t just <strong>in</strong>terested <strong>in</strong> how<br />

the media was portray<strong>in</strong>g the outside world, like<br />

Spears et al., I also wondered if stereotyp<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong><br />

the media could have an impact on an animal’s<br />

real life world? Perhaps this project would give me<br />

a chance to f<strong>in</strong>d out more.<br />

I set about a review and content analysis<br />

<strong>of</strong> animals <strong>in</strong> car advertis<strong>in</strong>g to see if the use <strong>of</strong><br />

animals <strong>in</strong> a s<strong>in</strong>gle product category displayed<br />

any <strong>of</strong> the themes previously noted by<br />

researchers, or revealed <strong>in</strong>terest<strong>in</strong>g new trends.<br />

Over several months I documented and analysed<br />

over 500 car advertisements that had aired<br />

globally dur<strong>in</strong>g the period <strong>of</strong> 2000 to 2012. My<br />

limitations were as follows: <strong>The</strong> adverts must have<br />

been <strong>in</strong> pr<strong>in</strong>t advertis<strong>in</strong>g (as opposed to video or<br />

web); any contextual copy (text) crucial to<br />

mean<strong>in</strong>g must be translatable us<strong>in</strong>g Google<br />

32<br />

translate (if it was not orig<strong>in</strong>ally <strong>in</strong> English); that the<br />

advertisements were available us<strong>in</strong>g web based<br />

search eng<strong>in</strong>es (Google, B<strong>in</strong>g) or through<br />

advertis<strong>in</strong>g agency archive site searches; that the<br />

category was auto or bike related; and f<strong>in</strong>ally,<br />

that at least one animal was featured as an<br />

<strong>in</strong>tegral part <strong>of</strong> the advertis<strong>in</strong>g message.<br />

Bulls pull….but Cheetahs are Go!<br />

What I found confirmed past research, but also<br />

provided <strong>in</strong>terest<strong>in</strong>g variations, perhaps some<br />

unique to car advertis<strong>in</strong>g. <strong>The</strong> symbolic themes<br />

previously identified: threat, victim, tool use, pest,<br />

imag<strong>in</strong>ary person, wild nature and object <strong>of</strong><br />

wonder, could all be seen fairly consistently<br />

across depictions <strong>of</strong> animals <strong>in</strong> car advertis<strong>in</strong>g<br />

over the last ten years. For example, sharks and<br />

crocodiles were nearly always coded as<br />

attack<strong>in</strong>g or threaten<strong>in</strong>g, and likewise brown and<br />

black bears were frequently cast <strong>in</strong> a threaten<strong>in</strong>g<br />

role. However, there were also unexpected<br />

nuances. Polar bears were <strong>of</strong>ten depicted as<br />

victims, perhaps due to associations with melt<strong>in</strong>g<br />

polar ice caps and sensitivities regard<strong>in</strong>g climate

Leo Burnett France<br />

500 Black Jack, 2009 Leo Burnett France<br />


Leo Burnett Istanbul<br />

How Far Can You Go?, 2010 Leo Burnett Istanbul<br />

change from an auto related <strong>in</strong>dustry. Another<br />

bear exception was the teddy bear, widely used<br />

to represent cute and cuddly, and one that<br />

provides one <strong>of</strong> the more thought-provok<strong>in</strong>g<br />

contributions regard<strong>in</strong>g representation <strong>of</strong> animals<br />

<strong>in</strong> auto advertis<strong>in</strong>g through its depiction <strong>in</strong> the<br />

2009 Fiat Blackjack campaign.<br />

Mov<strong>in</strong>g away from animal threat use,<br />

elephants and hippos were consistently popular<br />

animals for symbolis<strong>in</strong>g both wild nature and<br />

large size/carry<strong>in</strong>g capacity <strong>in</strong> car advertis<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

Rh<strong>in</strong>os were synonymous, likewise, with toughness<br />

across a range <strong>of</strong> auto related products, and<br />

bulls were without exception representative <strong>of</strong><br />

unbridled eng<strong>in</strong>e power. When it came to power<br />

<strong>in</strong> general, however, there were other animals<br />

wait<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> the w<strong>in</strong>gs. Horses, <strong>in</strong> contrast to bulls,<br />

were <strong>of</strong>ten used to discuss bridled, controllable,<br />

even <strong>in</strong>telligent, power; a concept that appears<br />

to be grow<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> popularity, perhaps <strong>in</strong> reference<br />

to <strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>g concerns <strong>of</strong> responsible energy use<br />

and a potential move away from the heady days<br />

<strong>of</strong> raw power, as one <strong>of</strong> the ma<strong>in</strong> sell<strong>in</strong>g features<br />

<strong>in</strong> auto advertis<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

Despite this move, however, acceleration,<br />

speed and power cont<strong>in</strong>ue, to date, to be<br />

attributes that feature prom<strong>in</strong>ently <strong>in</strong> car<br />

advertis<strong>in</strong>g and, not surpris<strong>in</strong>gly, big cats excel <strong>in</strong><br />

34<br />

this category <strong>of</strong> symbolic use. While tigers, and to<br />

a lesser extent leopards, jaguars and pumas,<br />

were <strong>of</strong>ten used to <strong>in</strong>dicate a powerful ride, the<br />

cheetah, as a s<strong>in</strong>gle species, appeared the most<br />

frequently representative <strong>of</strong> “fast” across the<br />

adverts surveyed. Cheetahs were l<strong>in</strong>ked to<br />

acceleration and speed time and aga<strong>in</strong> <strong>in</strong> car<br />

advertis<strong>in</strong>g, to the extent that even the smallest<br />

h<strong>in</strong>t <strong>of</strong> some spots or the blur <strong>of</strong> its fel<strong>in</strong>e shape<br />

was <strong>of</strong>ten enough to suggest a sports car model.<br />

More camels, pandas and frogs…<br />

As much as cats seem eternally popular <strong>in</strong> car<br />

advertis<strong>in</strong>g, there were some clear shifts to be<br />

seen <strong>in</strong> terms <strong>of</strong> animal popularity <strong>in</strong> the adverts<br />

over the decade reviewed. While bulls have seen<br />

a representative decrease <strong>in</strong> car ads, there<br />

appears to have been a rise <strong>in</strong> adverts conta<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g<br />

polar bears, pengu<strong>in</strong>s, frogs, fish, butterflies and<br />

pandas; all <strong>of</strong> which were frequently associated<br />

with environmental vulnerability and habitat<br />

concerns with<strong>in</strong> the adverts. Increas<strong>in</strong>g<br />

environmental awareness has, <strong>in</strong> all likelihood,<br />

also contributed to another animal’s popularity<br />

levels - the camel. This species, clearly on the rise<br />

<strong>in</strong> the adverts surveyed, was almost always

DDB Berl<strong>in</strong><br />

<strong>The</strong> Golf GTI Edition 30, 2007 DDB Berl<strong>in</strong><br />

associated with fuel efficiency. <strong>The</strong> camel’s<br />

newfound popularity across many types <strong>of</strong><br />

vehicle is perhaps not surpris<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> a world <strong>of</strong><br />

chang<strong>in</strong>g car priorities. On a more specific level,<br />

the <strong>in</strong>crease <strong>of</strong> the 4x4 SUV market has hailed a<br />

trend shift <strong>in</strong> certa<strong>in</strong> animal usage, with<br />

”surefooted” goats, and animals traditionally<br />

associated with wild nature (elephants, hippos,<br />

lions, to name a few), see<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>creased exposure.<br />

Perhaps most notably, all the ris<strong>in</strong>g consumer<br />

expectations <strong>of</strong> car attributes, comb<strong>in</strong>ed with<br />

<strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>g audience sophistication <strong>in</strong> terms <strong>of</strong><br />

advertis<strong>in</strong>g language, has also heralded the birth<br />

<strong>of</strong> animal comb<strong>in</strong>ations. Assisted by<br />

improvements <strong>in</strong> computer graphics, these<br />

animal comb<strong>in</strong>ations have allowed several<br />

aspects <strong>of</strong> a car, such as fuel economy and<br />

speed, or ruggedness and beauty, to be<br />

promoted <strong>in</strong> a s<strong>in</strong>gle advert. This <strong>in</strong> turn has<br />

resulted <strong>in</strong> more complex characterisations <strong>in</strong><br />

terms <strong>of</strong> animal usage, and will be an <strong>in</strong>terest<strong>in</strong>g<br />

trend to follow.<br />

35<br />

Seriously not like us.<br />

In terms <strong>of</strong> areas <strong>in</strong> which car advertis<strong>in</strong>g<br />

appeared to diverge from other advertis<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

anthropomorphism somewhat stood out. <strong>Animals</strong><br />

were occasionally portrayed as human-like but<br />

more <strong>of</strong>ten the reverse was true. When animals<br />

are used anthropomorphically <strong>in</strong> popular culture<br />

humour is <strong>of</strong>ten a part <strong>of</strong> the equation, and this<br />

understandably sits uncomfortably with car<br />

publicity. Cars are a serious purchase and this<br />

was reflected <strong>in</strong> how animals were associated<br />

with the product <strong>in</strong> car advertis<strong>in</strong>g. It was<br />

generally rare for an anthropomorphic animal to<br />

be shown represent<strong>in</strong>g the product itself.<br />

Rather, car advertisers, as we have noted,<br />

showed a tendency to trade on the powerful<br />

transformative potential <strong>of</strong> animal symbolism and<br />

preferred mak<strong>in</strong>g their products seem more<br />

animal-like. <strong>The</strong> hope was frequently that<br />

associations between a favoured animal’s<br />

attributes and the car would improve the<br />

perceptions <strong>of</strong> the car’s features <strong>in</strong> this category,<br />

even when l<strong>in</strong>ks were fairly tenuous. For example,

McCann Erikson<br />

Opel Astra, 2007 McCann Eriksson<br />

an elephant image might be used to make a<br />

family car appear more spacious, and a<br />

cheetah image could suggest racy, even if <strong>in</strong><br />

reality these attributes <strong>in</strong> the product were<br />

relatively m<strong>in</strong>or.<br />

Look<strong>in</strong>g at how transformation might<br />

happen <strong>in</strong> reverse drew me <strong>in</strong>to the area <strong>of</strong><br />

social moral valuations. A number <strong>of</strong> animals<br />

have historically become so tightly associated<br />

with certa<strong>in</strong> human values that this association<br />

may be considered to have had a transformative<br />

effect on cultural perceptions <strong>of</strong> the animal itself.<br />

Butterflies and doves have historically been the<br />

beneficiaries <strong>of</strong> an association with the human<br />

values <strong>of</strong> freedom and hope, and <strong>in</strong> adverts<br />

these animals are rarely seen <strong>in</strong> a negative light.<br />

Likewise ants and bees have frequently been<br />

associated with human constructions <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>in</strong>dustriousness, and are favourably considered as<br />

a result, whilst conversely bats and wolves have<br />

lost out for centuries due to our cultural tendency<br />

to l<strong>in</strong>k them with human notions <strong>of</strong> darkness and<br />

evil. <strong>The</strong> badges <strong>of</strong> honour, or dishonour, we dish<br />

out, unfortunately tend to “dog” the recipients,<br />

36<br />

colour<strong>in</strong>g how we understand them as an animal<br />

species with<strong>in</strong> a wider cultural framework.<br />

<strong>The</strong> lot <strong>of</strong> animals <strong>in</strong> car advertis<strong>in</strong>g is<br />

similar to that <strong>of</strong> animals <strong>in</strong> other advertis<strong>in</strong>g<br />

categories, as well as that <strong>of</strong> non-animal<br />

characters, <strong>in</strong> this respect. For better or worse,<br />

advertis<strong>in</strong>g, along with much popular media,<br />

uses shorthand to efficiently evoke mean<strong>in</strong>g and<br />

mood, with m<strong>in</strong>imal explanation. <strong>Animals</strong> are a<br />

useful tool <strong>in</strong> this undertak<strong>in</strong>g, and one that has<br />

been utilised for decades. While the good guys<br />

and bad guys are typecast <strong>in</strong> roles that are rarely,<br />

if ever, questioned, the degree to which<br />

movement may be possible, <strong>in</strong> terms <strong>of</strong> alter<strong>in</strong>g<br />

these associations <strong>in</strong> popular culture, is an<br />

<strong>in</strong>terest<strong>in</strong>g debate. Recent research <strong>in</strong>to the<br />

improv<strong>in</strong>g North American public perceptions <strong>of</strong><br />

cetaceans (whales and dolph<strong>in</strong>s) follow<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

popular TV series “Flipper,” as well as the shift<strong>in</strong>g<br />

North Korean categorization <strong>of</strong> dogs, from food<br />

item to pet animal, suggests that attitudes<br />

towards animal groups can alter surpris<strong>in</strong>gly<br />

quickly and dramatically under certa<strong>in</strong><br />

circumstances, br<strong>in</strong>g<strong>in</strong>g a ray <strong>of</strong> hope that one

David&Goliath<br />

Fast and Fuel Efficient, 2009 David&Goliath<br />

day the hyena may <strong>in</strong>deed star as a film’s happy<br />

hero!<br />

So, f<strong>in</strong>ally, my last question - does the<br />

representation <strong>of</strong> animals <strong>in</strong> advertis<strong>in</strong>g matter <strong>in</strong><br />

terms <strong>of</strong> human attitudes to animals <strong>in</strong> the real<br />

world? For me it’s a clear “yes,” for the reason that<br />

the repeated cast<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> animals <strong>in</strong> stereotyped<br />

roles across the popular media <strong>in</strong>evitably serves<br />

to re<strong>in</strong>force and perpetuate the prejudiced<br />

constructs we have amassed around non-human<br />

species, as ev<strong>in</strong>ced by Spears et al. <strong>The</strong> effects <strong>of</strong><br />

species bias based on the “charm effect” are<br />

surpris<strong>in</strong>gly pervasive, and even academic<br />

researchers admit to preferenc<strong>in</strong>g charismatic<br />

animals <strong>in</strong> scientific research (Lorimer, 2007).<br />

While a tendency to categorize animals<br />

<strong>in</strong>to “good and bad” and “them and us” may be<br />

a natural product <strong>of</strong> the human-animal<br />

relationship, and our very anthropocentric worldview,<br />

it comprehensively fails to evaluate and<br />

understand animals as they really are. An<br />

appreciation <strong>of</strong> the natural world is not served by<br />

portray<strong>in</strong>g certa<strong>in</strong> animal species as harmless<br />

emblems <strong>of</strong> peace and <strong>in</strong>nocence whilst cast<strong>in</strong>g<br />

others as dark villa<strong>in</strong>s <strong>of</strong> nature, s<strong>in</strong>ce these are<br />

projected human constructs. <strong>Animals</strong> are clearly<br />

37<br />

more complex and <strong>in</strong>tr<strong>in</strong>sically valuable, both as<br />

species and <strong>in</strong>dividuals. Like many marg<strong>in</strong>alised<br />

out-groups, animals will likely benefit from a<br />

deeper scrut<strong>in</strong>y, and perhaps this will prove the<br />

best way to tackle one <strong>of</strong> the last major<br />

challenges <strong>of</strong> human prejudice – that <strong>of</strong><br />

speciesism.<br />

Notes:<br />

1) Non-human animals from now on will be referred <strong>in</strong> this<br />

text to simply as animals for reasons <strong>of</strong> brevity.<br />

References:<br />

Arluke, A. and Bogdan, R. (2010). Beauty and the Beast:<br />

Human-Animal Relations as Revealed <strong>in</strong> Real Photo<br />

Postcards, 1905-1935. Syracuse University Press.<br />

Herzog, H.A. and Galv<strong>in</strong>, S.L. (1992). <strong>Animals</strong>, Archetypes,<br />

and Popular <strong>Culture</strong>: Tales from the Tabloid Press. Anthrozoos.<br />

Vol. 5 (2). Pp. 77-92.<br />

Kal<strong>of</strong> L., Zammit-Lucia, J., and Kelly, J.R. (2011). <strong>The</strong><br />

mean<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> animal portraiture <strong>in</strong> a museum sett<strong>in</strong>g:<br />

Implications for conservation. Organization & Environment.<br />

Vol. 24 (2). Pp. 150-174.

Jung von Matt<br />

<strong>The</strong>y Will Survive Jung von Matt<br />

Lerner, J.E., and Kal<strong>of</strong>, L. (1999). <strong>The</strong> animal text: Message<br />

and mean<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> television advertisements. <strong>The</strong> Sociological<br />

Quarterly. Vol. 40 (4). Pp. 565-586.<br />

Lorimer, J. (2007). "Nonhuman charisma." Environment and<br />

Plann<strong>in</strong>g D: Society and Space. Vol. 25(5). Pp. 911 – 932.<br />

Phillips, B.J. (1996). Advertis<strong>in</strong>g and the cultural mean<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong><br />

animals. Advances <strong>in</strong> Consumer Research. Vol. 23. Pp. 354-<br />

360.<br />

Spears, N.E., Mowen, J.C., and Chakraborty, G. (1996).<br />

Symbolic role <strong>of</strong> animals <strong>in</strong> pr<strong>in</strong>t advertis<strong>in</strong>g: Content analysis<br />

and conceptual development. <strong>Journal</strong> <strong>of</strong> Bus<strong>in</strong>ess Research.<br />

Vol. 37. Pp. 87-95<br />

38<br />

Cluny South is currently work<strong>in</strong>g on an Interdiscipl<strong>in</strong>ary PhD at the<br />

University <strong>of</strong> British Columbia, <strong>in</strong> the area <strong>of</strong> Conservation Psychology<br />

and <strong>Market<strong>in</strong>g</strong>. Her PhD research looks at how attitudes to animals<br />

are shaped, and what effect perceiv<strong>in</strong>g animals as “<strong>in</strong>-group” or<br />

“out-group” members has for preferences towards them. Previously<br />

she worked for over a decade as a Natural History producer <strong>in</strong> the<br />

UK, primarily creat<strong>in</strong>g factual programm<strong>in</strong>g for the BBC NHU. She has<br />

a B.A. <strong>in</strong> F<strong>in</strong>e Art from Central St. Mart<strong>in</strong>’s School <strong>of</strong> Art and worked<br />

with live animals <strong>in</strong> <strong>in</strong>stallations and performances <strong>in</strong> London <strong>in</strong> the<br />

late ‘80’s. She has experience <strong>in</strong> journalism, production design,<br />

publish<strong>in</strong>g and freelance writ<strong>in</strong>g, and currently works part-time as a<br />

researcher and consultant <strong>in</strong> the area <strong>of</strong> public attitudes to animals,<br />

the environment and conservation. She lives <strong>in</strong> Vancouver with her<br />

partner, two children, a dog and two gerbils.

Kessanlv<br />

Bovril by Electrocution from <strong>The</strong> Graphic, Christmas Number, 1891<br />

39<br />



I first came across this illustration whilst brows<strong>in</strong>g through Leonard de Vries’s fasc<strong>in</strong>at<strong>in</strong>g collection, Victorian<br />

Advertis<strong>in</strong>g, about twelve years ago. I was look<strong>in</strong>g for someth<strong>in</strong>g else at the time – examples <strong>of</strong> late Victorian<br />

electric belt advertisements as part <strong>of</strong> a project on n<strong>in</strong>eteenth-century medical electricity. Instead, this one jumped<br />

out <strong>of</strong> the page at me.<br />

Text by Iwan Rhys Morus

Electric belt advertisements have a certa<strong>in</strong><br />

charm all <strong>of</strong> their own and can be extremely<br />

<strong>in</strong>formative, but this illustration fasc<strong>in</strong>ated me<br />

– and still does. It seemed to capture <strong>in</strong> one<br />

rather quirky scene the whole curiosity, complexity<br />

and contrar<strong>in</strong>ess <strong>of</strong> electricity’s place <strong>in</strong> late<br />

Victorian culture. <strong>The</strong> picture itself is an<br />

advertisement for Bovril – a thick, dark brown,<br />

gloopy beef extract, usually consumed either as a<br />

spread on toast or diluted to make beef tea – that<br />

appeared <strong>in</strong> the popular magaz<strong>in</strong>e <strong>The</strong> Graphic<br />

<strong>in</strong> 1891. <strong>The</strong> ad shows some remarkably<br />

complacent look<strong>in</strong>g cattle about to be<br />

sacrificially electrocuted <strong>in</strong> order to manufacture<br />

that wonder-work<strong>in</strong>g product. <strong>The</strong> date is<br />

significant <strong>of</strong> itself <strong>of</strong> course, be<strong>in</strong>g only the year<br />

after the first electrical execution <strong>of</strong> a human<br />

be<strong>in</strong>g took place <strong>in</strong> New York on 6 August 1890.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Graphic, <strong>in</strong> which the advertisement<br />

appeared, had been established <strong>in</strong> 1869 as<br />

competition for the relatively well-established<br />

Illustrated London News. Both publications took<br />

advantage <strong>of</strong> the Victorian proliferation <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>in</strong>dustrialized pr<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g technologies, particularly<br />

those that made the mass-production <strong>of</strong> relatively<br />

cheap high-quality illustrations possible.<br />

For researchers who spend much <strong>of</strong> their<br />

time delv<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>to Victorian journals, magaz<strong>in</strong>es,<br />

and newspapers the visual transformation <strong>of</strong> pr<strong>in</strong>t<br />

culture between the 1830s and the 1860s is<br />

remarkable. Illustrations <strong>in</strong> 1830 are crude and<br />

few and far between. By the end <strong>of</strong> the ‘60s they<br />

are both sophisticated and everywhere. <strong>The</strong> same<br />

goes for advertisements. New technologies, new<br />

markets and new audience expectations<br />

transformed them from be<strong>in</strong>g a few l<strong>in</strong>es <strong>of</strong><br />

closely packed text <strong>in</strong> columns dur<strong>in</strong>g the 1830s<br />

to the sort <strong>of</strong> visually dense representation you<br />

can see here.<br />

So why is this such a great picture? In the<br />

first place, it’s because it’s advertis<strong>in</strong>g Bovril, a<br />

substance that needs some <strong>in</strong>troduction to a non-<br />

British audience. It was first manufactured <strong>in</strong> 1886<br />

and was the sort <strong>of</strong> th<strong>in</strong>g I was still be<strong>in</strong>g given as<br />

a child <strong>in</strong> the 1970s after be<strong>in</strong>g ill. <strong>The</strong> name has<br />

an <strong>in</strong>terest<strong>in</strong>g etymology that helps expla<strong>in</strong> why<br />

this advert is so fasc<strong>in</strong>at<strong>in</strong>g for a historian <strong>of</strong><br />

electricity. In his 1871 novel, <strong>The</strong> Com<strong>in</strong>g Race,<br />

the English pulp writer Edward Bulwer-Lytton<br />

<strong>in</strong>troduced the “vril-ya,” a race <strong>of</strong> subterranean<br />

super-be<strong>in</strong>gs that did everyth<strong>in</strong>g through the<br />

power <strong>of</strong> vril. Vril, as Bulwer Lytton’s description<br />

made quite clear, was electricity, and animal<br />

electricity at that. Manipulat<strong>in</strong>g it, the vril-ya “by<br />

operations, ak<strong>in</strong> to those ascribed to mesmerism,<br />

electro-biology, odic force, &c., but applied<br />

40<br />

scientifically, through vril conductors ... can<br />

exercise <strong>in</strong>fluence over m<strong>in</strong>ds, and bodies animal<br />

and vegetable, to an extent not surpassed <strong>in</strong> the<br />

romances <strong>of</strong> our mystics.” So, Bovril was meant to<br />

be understood as bov<strong>in</strong>e vril, the concentrated<br />

animal electricity <strong>of</strong> beef. It was named <strong>in</strong> order<br />

to <strong>in</strong>vite its consumers to draw the l<strong>in</strong>k between<br />

the life-enhanc<strong>in</strong>g and health-giv<strong>in</strong>g virtues <strong>of</strong><br />

Bovril and the virtues <strong>of</strong> the mysterious electrical<br />

vril.<br />

That’s what makes this picture so peculiar –<br />

and so clever. It shows Bovril, which the Victorian<br />

consumer is meant to imag<strong>in</strong>e as be<strong>in</strong>g some<br />

sort <strong>of</strong> electrical essence <strong>of</strong> bov<strong>in</strong>e life, be<strong>in</strong>g<br />

produced through electrocution. It elides together<br />

the life-giv<strong>in</strong>g and death-deal<strong>in</strong>g connotations <strong>of</strong><br />

electricity, a nice example <strong>of</strong> postmodern<br />

slipper<strong>in</strong>ess a century before postmodernism. By<br />

the 1890s, the tradition <strong>of</strong> electricity as life was<br />

well-entrenched. From James Graham’s Celestial<br />

Bed <strong>in</strong> the 1780s, to Giovanni Ald<strong>in</strong>i’s and Andrew<br />

Ure’s experiments on electrified corpses, to<br />

Andrew Crosse’s electrical <strong>in</strong>sects, to medical<br />

electricity and the electropathic belt, the<br />

connection seemed secure. By the early 1890s,<br />

advertisements for electric belts and corsets<br />

manufactured by C. B. Harness and his Medical<br />

Battery Company were everywhere, though<br />

Harness was to f<strong>in</strong>d himself <strong>in</strong> court and at the<br />

beg<strong>in</strong>n<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> the slippery slope to bankruptcy<br />

with<strong>in</strong> the year. After all, if the connection weren’t<br />

so obvious to <strong>The</strong> Graphic’s readers, the Bovril<br />

advert would make no sense.<br />

After 1890, though, electricity had<br />

acquired a quite different connotation as the<br />

latest technology for deal<strong>in</strong>g scientifically<br />

adm<strong>in</strong>istered death. <strong>The</strong> l<strong>in</strong>k between death and<br />

electricity wasn’t entirely novel; pr<strong>of</strong>essional<br />

electricians, as part <strong>of</strong> their discipl<strong>in</strong>e’s folk<br />

tradition, had wild tales <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>trepid natural<br />

philosophers experiment<strong>in</strong>g on the Leyden Jar.<br />

From the 1880s, as towns and cities across Europe<br />

and North America electrified, there was a steady<br />

stream <strong>of</strong> newspaper reports <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>cautious workers<br />

killed by touch<strong>in</strong>g the electric wires. William<br />

Kemmler’s death, as the first victim <strong>of</strong> the electric<br />

chair – and the <strong>in</strong>vention <strong>of</strong> the word<br />

electrocution to describe the process – made the<br />

l<strong>in</strong>k between electricity and death just as secure <strong>in</strong><br />

late-Victorian m<strong>in</strong>ds as the connection between<br />

electricity and life. <strong>The</strong>re were debates <strong>in</strong><br />

electrical and medical journals about just how, <strong>in</strong><br />

practice, electricity killed.<br />

<strong>The</strong> advert shows us the multiplicity <strong>of</strong> ways<br />

<strong>in</strong> which electricity might make sense for the<br />

Victorians. It was life, it was death. It represented

progress and humanitarianism. It was thoroughly<br />

embedded <strong>in</strong> consumer culture mak<strong>in</strong>g it a<br />

wonderful illustration to use with students. If noth<strong>in</strong>g<br />

else, it’s a great talk<strong>in</strong>g po<strong>in</strong>t and a way to start<br />

conversations about electricity’s place <strong>in</strong> Victorian<br />

culture and the importance <strong>of</strong> do<strong>in</strong>g cultural<br />

history <strong>of</strong> science <strong>in</strong> general. What it suggests is<br />

that such cultural histories never stop. You can<br />

always dig a little deeper, see th<strong>in</strong>gs from another<br />

angle, and follow another lead to come up with a<br />

new perspective. <strong>The</strong> transitions from science to<br />

technology and culture <strong>in</strong> this picture are<br />

seamless. You can’t tell exactly where they merge<br />

<strong>in</strong>to one another. Most important <strong>of</strong> all, it’s funny,<br />

or at least I th<strong>in</strong>k it is. <strong>The</strong>re’s an old truism that if<br />

you want to understand a culture you need to<br />

laugh at its jokes.<br />

Iwan Rhys Morus MA, MPhil, PhD (Cantab) is a historian <strong>of</strong> n<strong>in</strong>eteenth<br />

century science, technology and medic<strong>in</strong>e. He also has <strong>in</strong>terests <strong>in</strong><br />

the history <strong>of</strong> the body and n<strong>in</strong>eteenth-century popular culture. He<br />

has published widely on these topics and recent books<br />

<strong>in</strong>clude Shock<strong>in</strong>g Bodies (History Press, 2011), When Physics became<br />

K<strong>in</strong>g (Chicago, 2005), Michael Faraday and the Electrical Century<br />

(Icon Books, 2004) and Frankenste<strong>in</strong>'s Children (Pr<strong>in</strong>ceton, 1998). His<br />

current research projects focus on n<strong>in</strong>eteenth-century optical<br />

illusions as philosophical and experimental practices as well as the<br />

more general history <strong>of</strong> scientific performances <strong>in</strong> the n<strong>in</strong>eteenth<br />

century. Dr. Morus is the editor <strong>of</strong> History <strong>of</strong> Science. He is also the<br />

Project Director for the ‘Memory and Media <strong>in</strong> Wales’ JISC-funded<br />

research project and a senior collaborator on the John Tyndall<br />

Correspondence Project at Montana State University.<br />

This piece was orig<strong>in</strong>ally published by the HSS Newsletter<br />

www.hssonl<strong>in</strong>e.org and is here reproduced with permission <strong>of</strong> the<br />

author and thanks to the k<strong>in</strong>d help <strong>of</strong> Jay Malone<br />


This paper explores recent TV adverts <strong>in</strong> which the animals portrayed come to appear before us <strong>in</strong> new ways.<br />

Gone are cosy images <strong>of</strong> chimpanzees play<strong>in</strong>g house, wear<strong>in</strong>g flat-caps and frocks, and pour<strong>in</strong>g cups <strong>of</strong> tea. <strong>The</strong><br />

animals are break<strong>in</strong>g out! Mary, the cow (Muller yoghurt), is “set free” on a beach to fulfil her dream <strong>of</strong> becom<strong>in</strong>g<br />

a horse. More cows (Anchor butter) have taken charge <strong>of</strong> the dairy. An elephant (LG) climbs a tree, break<strong>in</strong>g<br />

through the forest canopy to view the world from a new perspective, and a car is given magnificent new tyres<br />

(Michel<strong>in</strong>), enabl<strong>in</strong>g it to screech to a halt to allow creatures to cross ”the sad stretch <strong>of</strong> road” unharmed. What<br />

has happened to our conceptions <strong>of</strong> animals? Why at this particular po<strong>in</strong>t <strong>in</strong> time – a time perceived as one <strong>of</strong><br />

“environmental crisis” – do we f<strong>in</strong>d ourselves gaz<strong>in</strong>g from our s<strong>of</strong>as upon these representations <strong>of</strong> boundarybreak<strong>in</strong>g<br />

animals? From what are they break<strong>in</strong>g out? And, more to the po<strong>in</strong>t, what k<strong>in</strong>d <strong>of</strong> shift renders such<br />

portrayals valuable tools <strong>in</strong> the world <strong>of</strong> commodity, where<strong>in</strong> the conduits l<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g supply-and-demand assume<br />

some general need to envision animals as “free-agents?” While we are accustomed to see<strong>in</strong>g animals presented<br />

to us as “free-agents” <strong>in</strong> books or films, the use <strong>of</strong> such portrayals is a notable development <strong>in</strong> the world <strong>of</strong><br />

television advertis<strong>in</strong>g. This paper considers how this phenomenon might be l<strong>in</strong>ked to the challenges we face<br />

where<strong>in</strong> an environmental “crisis” <strong>of</strong> our own mak<strong>in</strong>g calls us to radically reth<strong>in</strong>k our modes <strong>of</strong> be<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> relation to<br />

the world about us.<br />

Text by Louise Squire<br />

T<br />

here are several difficulties to consider <strong>in</strong><br />

relation to this <strong>in</strong>vestigation <strong>of</strong> animals as<br />

“free-agents,” not least <strong>of</strong> which is how we<br />

conceptualise the terms “freedom” and<br />

“agency.” Such terms, <strong>of</strong> course, participate <strong>in</strong><br />

the ways, with<strong>in</strong> a Western paradigm, that we<br />

have historically def<strong>in</strong>ed humanity. Both terms,<br />

once we <strong>in</strong>vestigate them, are heavily<br />

dependent (at least traditionally so) on a<br />

capacity for “rationality” (for example Kant, 1959),<br />

and the established view has been, as Mull<strong>in</strong><br />

remarks, that “Humans might be animals, but<br />

humans alone possessed rationality, language,<br />

consciousness, or emotions” (Mull<strong>in</strong> 1999, 206;<br />



42<br />

emphasis added). If both “freedom” and<br />

“agency” require capacities beyond the<br />

wherewithal <strong>of</strong> animals, render<strong>in</strong>g them<br />

<strong>in</strong>capable <strong>of</strong> either, then our various constra<strong>in</strong>ts <strong>of</strong><br />

them would appear unproblematic. On this view,<br />

we might say that the adverts selected, <strong>in</strong><br />

portray<strong>in</strong>g animals thus, take a merely whimsical<br />

approach to enroll<strong>in</strong>g the viewer – and no doubt,<br />

to an extent, they do. We might add to this the<br />

more tell<strong>in</strong>g notion that the adverts serve – or at<br />

least seek – to counter issues related to animal<br />

welfare, especially where the utilisation <strong>of</strong> animals<br />

lies beh<strong>in</strong>d the products marketed. This<br />

counter<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> itself, aris<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> part from the work <strong>of</strong>

Fig 1. VCCP<br />

Muller “Thank You Cows”, two stills from tv advert, 2010 VCCP<br />

the likes <strong>of</strong> Regan (1983) and S<strong>in</strong>ger (1977),<br />

beg<strong>in</strong>s to implicate the adverts as signifiers <strong>of</strong><br />

shift<strong>in</strong>g attitudes towards animals, <strong>in</strong>dicative <strong>of</strong><br />

the “reassessments <strong>of</strong> the capacities and status<br />

<strong>of</strong> animals com<strong>in</strong>g from environmental<br />

philosophy” (Jones 2003, 294-295).<br />

However, we can take this further. <strong>The</strong> era<br />

with<strong>in</strong> which we currently dwell has pr<strong>of</strong>oundly<br />

challenged and is currently shift<strong>in</strong>g our th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g<br />

about our place <strong>in</strong> the world. <strong>The</strong> modernist<br />

project for which “[t]he scientific dom<strong>in</strong>ation <strong>of</strong><br />

nature promised freedom from scarcity, want,<br />

and the arbitrar<strong>in</strong>ess <strong>of</strong> natural calamity” (Harvey<br />

1989, 12), as founded upon the assumption <strong>of</strong> an<br />

<strong>in</strong>f<strong>in</strong>itude <strong>of</strong> “natural resources,” has <strong>of</strong> course<br />

grossly misfired. <strong>The</strong> devastat<strong>in</strong>g losses <strong>of</strong><br />

countless species and their habitats add up to<br />

“disappearances” which now endlessly<br />

“reappear” on our television screens <strong>in</strong><br />

programmes such as BBC’s Last Chance to<br />

See (2009). This is no mere aesthetic loss, nor is it<br />

conf<strong>in</strong>ed to the ethical; it takes on the scale<br />

presently def<strong>in</strong>ed by anthropogenic climate<br />

change, <strong>in</strong> turn threaten<strong>in</strong>g our own survival – not<br />

to mention that <strong>of</strong> endless non-human be<strong>in</strong>gs.<br />

This environmental “crisis” appears not only “out<br />

there,” but manifests as a phenomenon <strong>of</strong> our<br />

liv<strong>in</strong>g rooms, where the world <strong>of</strong> commodity<br />

cont<strong>in</strong>ues to reach out to entice us with its<br />

products. Seen <strong>in</strong> this light, <strong>in</strong> “sett<strong>in</strong>g animals<br />

free” these adverts, regardless <strong>of</strong> their location <strong>in</strong><br />

the realm <strong>of</strong> commodity, seem to signify a new<br />

desire to return animals “to landscape;” a desire<br />

which, I <strong>in</strong>tend to show, has resonance beyond<br />

issues <strong>of</strong> animal welfare, which it nonetheless<br />

<strong>in</strong>cludes.<br />

<strong>The</strong> first two adverts for consideration both<br />

feature animals that are commonly conta<strong>in</strong>ed<br />

with<strong>in</strong> human systems <strong>of</strong> production – cows:<br />

Muller’s “Thank You Cows”<br />

43<br />

Overview 1: This first advert features Mary<br />

the Cow who “has always dreamed <strong>of</strong> be<strong>in</strong>g a<br />

horse.” We watch as she is “released” to gallop<br />

freely on a beach, thus her dream is made to<br />

come true. Cows, collectively, are then “thanked”<br />

for the natural goodness <strong>of</strong> their milk, which they<br />

provide for Muller’s fruit corner yoghurts.<br />

Comment,1: Three po<strong>in</strong>ts are <strong>of</strong><br />

particular note for our discussion: (a) the act <strong>of</strong><br />

“release,” sett<strong>in</strong>g Mary free; (b) the act <strong>of</strong> thank<strong>in</strong>g<br />

cows generally; and (c) the statement that Mary<br />

has “always wanted to be a horse.” <strong>The</strong> portrayal<br />

<strong>of</strong> Mary as “thanked,” as Jonas notes, at least<br />

acknowledges that there is some “cost” to the<br />

cow (Jonas, 2010 Survey), signall<strong>in</strong>g a shift <strong>in</strong> the<br />

ways we th<strong>in</strong>k about farmed animals; on the<br />

other hand, as Cole has noted, this k<strong>in</strong>d <strong>of</strong><br />

“discursive reconfigur<strong>in</strong>g” <strong>of</strong> “the relationships<br />

between humans and farmed animals” is also<br />

“<strong>in</strong>cidental” to the real welfare <strong>of</strong> the animal (Cole<br />

2011, 84). That Mary has “always wanted to be a<br />

horse” further separates the real from the farfetched,<br />

yet also performs an <strong>in</strong>terest<strong>in</strong>g function:<br />

horses, we might note, possess a more privileged<br />

position <strong>in</strong> human (Western) society than do<br />

cows; they “participate <strong>in</strong> ... society <strong>in</strong> the<br />

capacity <strong>of</strong> subjects;” we converse with them<br />

and give them personal names (Sahl<strong>in</strong>s 1976,<br />

174). A horse, therefore, has a degree <strong>of</strong><br />

“personhood” which the cow, <strong>in</strong> becom<strong>in</strong>g horse,<br />

is portrayed as mov<strong>in</strong>g closer towards.<br />

<strong>The</strong> portrayal <strong>of</strong> cows as “free-agents” <strong>in</strong> our<br />

second advert is quite different: Anchor’s “Made<br />

by Cows”.<br />

Overview 2: A herd <strong>of</strong> cows br<strong>in</strong>g<br />

themselves <strong>in</strong>to the dairy to be milked and then<br />

proceed to carry out the production process from<br />

start to f<strong>in</strong>ish, giv<strong>in</strong>g their “approval” to the packs<br />

<strong>of</strong> butter which appear on the f<strong>in</strong>al conveyor. We<br />

watch as they “man-handle” the pallets <strong>of</strong>

Fig. 2 CHI & Partners<br />

Made by Cows, two stills from tv advert, 2010 CHI & Partners<br />

product, operate the gadget that dispenses<br />

brown packag<strong>in</strong>g tape, stack up the boxes on<br />

pallets and then load them <strong>in</strong>to a lorry for<br />

distribution.<br />

Comment 2: That the cows take on the<br />

roles <strong>of</strong> human workers purports to render them<br />

“free-agents” to the extent that we, as citizens <strong>of</strong><br />

our socio-economic framework, are free-agents.<br />

While this advert makes less <strong>of</strong> an imag<strong>in</strong>ative<br />

leap from traditional anthropomorphic portrayals<br />

<strong>of</strong> animals, the “message” here is clear: cows<br />

participate actively <strong>in</strong> the production process and<br />

give their approval to the end product – butter.<br />

This, as Kali notes, gives the appearance that<br />

they are “complicit <strong>in</strong> the use <strong>of</strong> their bodies” for<br />

production (Kali, 2010 Survey).<br />

Grow<strong>in</strong>g popular concern for the<br />

wellbe<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> animals, <strong>of</strong> course, poses particular<br />

challenges for those companies whose products<br />

are entangled with the rural, which, as Jones<br />

po<strong>in</strong>ts out, is “the space where much <strong>of</strong> the<br />

subjugation <strong>of</strong> animals on behalf <strong>of</strong> modern<br />

society takes place” (2003, 287). In both adverts,<br />

we can see that the matter <strong>of</strong> subjugation,<br />

mentioned here by Jones, is reworked (thus<br />

concealed) via its own antonyms for the viewer’s<br />

own comfort or amusement, present<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

animals as set free and thanked, or rewarded<br />

and <strong>in</strong> control. Whatever concerns we may have<br />

about the wellbe<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> farmed animals, these<br />

adverts seek, on some level, to allay them. At the<br />

same time, this move to portray animals as “freeagents”<br />

might lead us to consider more<br />

specifically what a grow<strong>in</strong>g popular concern for<br />

animals might seek to see animals freed from. As<br />

Cranston notes, <strong>in</strong> order to discern what is meant<br />

by “freedom” <strong>in</strong> any given application, we should<br />

ask the question “Freedom from what?” [i] (1967, 5-<br />

44<br />

6). We can explore this <strong>in</strong> terms <strong>of</strong> two k<strong>in</strong>ds <strong>of</strong><br />

limitations: (a) our “physical” constra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong><br />

animals; and (b) our “ethical valu<strong>in</strong>g” <strong>of</strong> them.<br />

In terms <strong>of</strong> the first, Foucault provides a<br />

useful means to view the “constra<strong>in</strong>t” <strong>of</strong> animal<br />

bodies <strong>in</strong> human systems. He claimed that it<br />

was out <strong>of</strong> the longstand<strong>in</strong>g struggle to relieve<br />

humans from the constra<strong>in</strong>ts <strong>of</strong> the natural world<br />

that a shift <strong>in</strong> the use <strong>of</strong> power arose, chang<strong>in</strong>g<br />

emphasis from one <strong>of</strong> absolute power (controll<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the “right to life”), to one <strong>of</strong> “discipl<strong>in</strong>e” –<br />

emerg<strong>in</strong>g as f<strong>in</strong>ely tuned and subtly rendered<br />

control over the liv<strong>in</strong>g body at the level <strong>of</strong> life<br />

itself, giv<strong>in</strong>g “power its access even to the body”<br />

(Foucault 1984, 265). <strong>The</strong> models <strong>of</strong><br />

governmentality applied to cities were then<br />

extended to police the “whole territory” – a<br />

“historical rupture,” which Darier describes as<br />

becom<strong>in</strong>g” a condition for environmental “crisis”<br />

(Darier 1999, 23). Farmed landscapes<br />

thus translate as designated food-resources for<br />

“livestock”; “shady meadows” function alongside<br />

build<strong>in</strong>gs designed to “... ensure the successful<br />

enrolment <strong>of</strong> domesticated animals <strong>in</strong>to humandriven<br />

networks” (Jones 2003, 294-296); and<br />

through this enrolment, the liv<strong>in</strong>g body <strong>of</strong> the<br />

animal, as described by Noske, becomes<br />

alienated <strong>in</strong> a number <strong>of</strong> ways: once steered by<br />

the animal, the body is now controlled by others<br />

“and is actually work<strong>in</strong>g aga<strong>in</strong>st the animal’s own<br />

<strong>in</strong>terests.” An animal is thus alienated from the<br />

natural life <strong>of</strong> his or her species, from the ecosystem<br />

with<strong>in</strong> which he or she evolved, and <strong>of</strong>ten<br />

also from his or her own fellow animals (Noske<br />

1997, 18-19).<br />

Regard<strong>in</strong>g the second limitation, our<br />

ethical valu<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> animals has, <strong>of</strong> course, long<br />

been clouded by our assessments <strong>of</strong> their mental

Fig. 3 TBWA/Chiat/Day New York<br />

Sad Stretch <strong>of</strong> Road, two stills from tv advert, 2009 TBWA/Chiat/Day New York<br />

“capacities”, due <strong>in</strong> part to the philosophical<br />

difficulties with ascrib<strong>in</strong>g them rationality or<br />

powers <strong>of</strong> conceptual th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g. But possess<strong>in</strong>g a<br />

“concept <strong>of</strong> freedom” or no, it is not hard to see<br />

that animals, when constra<strong>in</strong>ed, strive to be free<br />

(Ingold 2000a; Jones, 2003). As Ingold notes, our<br />

relations with animals have produced a whole<br />

range <strong>of</strong> “tools <strong>of</strong> coercion, such as the whip or<br />

the spur, designed to <strong>in</strong>flict physical force and<br />

very <strong>of</strong>ten acute pa<strong>in</strong>” (2000a, 307). <strong>The</strong><br />

presence <strong>of</strong> this need to coerce clearly reveals<br />

the counter<strong>in</strong>g by the human <strong>of</strong> some otherwise<br />

free movement <strong>of</strong> the animal. Williams adds the<br />

po<strong>in</strong>t that such coercive practices <strong>of</strong>ten do, <strong>in</strong><br />

fact, recognise the sentience <strong>of</strong> the animal, a<br />

recognition which can boost the success <strong>of</strong><br />

coercion (Williams, 2004). Successful coercion, <strong>of</strong><br />

course, benefits production, but as Carr states:<br />

“coercion, it is all but universally agreed, is<br />

antithetical to freedom. To be coerced to do (not<br />

do) someth<strong>in</strong>g is to have one’s freedom<br />

abridged” (Carr 1988, 59). What this highlights is<br />

the tenuous nature <strong>of</strong> the l<strong>in</strong>ks between<br />

our valu<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> animals and the matter <strong>of</strong> their<br />

capacity to be “free.”<br />

Interest<strong>in</strong>gly, so-called “human” capacities<br />

have, <strong>in</strong> turn, <strong>in</strong>formed the very concept <strong>of</strong><br />

“freedom” itself. Kant, for example, and very<br />

<strong>in</strong>fluentially, argued that it is only <strong>in</strong> the rational<br />

actions <strong>of</strong> a moral agent that true freedom can<br />

exist (Kant, 1959). Philo and Wilbert po<strong>in</strong>t to this<br />

“long-stand<strong>in</strong>g human belief <strong>in</strong> a basic dist<strong>in</strong>ction<br />

between” the rational human and “base passions<br />

and <strong>in</strong>st<strong>in</strong>cts,” which, they observe, “allegedly<br />

obliterate a be<strong>in</strong>g’s potential for agency” (2007,<br />

14-15). This provides a curious situation, <strong>in</strong> which<br />

what we may actually desire animals to be free<br />

45<br />

from is the very idea itself that they cannot be<br />

free.<br />

<strong>The</strong> next two adverts provide a means to<br />

consider the “free-agency” <strong>of</strong> animals that<br />

lie outside our direct conta<strong>in</strong>ment or control:<br />

Michel<strong>in</strong>’s “Sad Stretch <strong>of</strong> the Road” and LG’s<br />

“Clever Elephant”.<br />

Overview 3: this rather gruesome advert<br />

features a “sad stretch <strong>of</strong> road” littered with “roadkill”<br />

casualties. As a p<strong>in</strong>k rabbit beg<strong>in</strong>s to cross the<br />

road one dark night, the headlights <strong>of</strong> a blue car<br />

rapidly approach. Will the rabbit be killed? No –<br />

because the Michel<strong>in</strong> Man throws out a set <strong>of</strong><br />

tyres for the blue car, enabl<strong>in</strong>g it to screech to a<br />

halt and leav<strong>in</strong>g the p<strong>in</strong>k rabbit unharmed.<br />

Comment 3: What is strik<strong>in</strong>g about this<br />

advert is that the agency <strong>of</strong> the animal manifests<br />

at the po<strong>in</strong>t where the car responds to it by<br />

screech<strong>in</strong>g to a halt. When learn<strong>in</strong>g to drive, we<br />

are taught, <strong>in</strong> relation to the UK’s Road Traffic<br />

Act, [ii] not to swerve or stop for animals such as<br />

badgers, foxes, rabbits etc. for fear <strong>of</strong><br />

endanger<strong>in</strong>g “persons.” If <strong>in</strong> swerv<strong>in</strong>g for an<br />

animal we harm a “person,” we have driven<br />

“dangerously,” which amounts to a crim<strong>in</strong>al<br />

<strong>of</strong>fence. This advert therefore appears to suggest<br />

that animals might be “persons” too.<br />

Overview 4: Here, an elephant steps<br />

gracefully through an Amazonian forest<br />

landscape. We watch as he or she reaches a tall<br />

tree and proceeds to climb up it, step by step,<br />

branch by branch. Reach<strong>in</strong>g the top, he or she<br />

emerges from the canopy to encounter a vast<br />

and beautiful vista <strong>of</strong> the landscape at large – a<br />

view from on high.<br />

Comment 4: In climb<strong>in</strong>g a tree, the<br />

elephant breaks out from his or her own

Fig. 4 Y&R New York<br />

Clever Elephant, two stills from tv advert, 2010 Y&R New York<br />

limitations; but who really climbs trees? <strong>The</strong><br />

elephant, we might note, has borrowed the skills<br />

<strong>of</strong> primates, who <strong>in</strong> turn we conceive <strong>of</strong> as<br />

dwell<strong>in</strong>g at the borders between human and nonhuman<br />

animal (Mull<strong>in</strong> 1999, 213). Jonas (2010<br />

Survey) very eloquently describes this advert as<br />

“a Plato’s Cave image,” <strong>in</strong> which “climb<strong>in</strong>g out <strong>of</strong><br />

the world <strong>of</strong> shadow, the elephant reaches the<br />

awesome light <strong>of</strong> pure reason.” In terms <strong>of</strong> the<br />

rational requirements for freedom and agency,<br />

this reveals the elephant as therefore break<strong>in</strong>g<br />

free from our very conceptions <strong>of</strong> him or her as<br />

animal.<br />

<strong>The</strong>se two adverts portray animals not as<br />

<strong>in</strong>tegrated <strong>in</strong>to systems, but as dwellers <strong>of</strong> the<br />

wider landscape. With<strong>in</strong> a Western mode <strong>of</strong><br />

be<strong>in</strong>g, we have long had a habit <strong>of</strong> objectify<strong>in</strong>g<br />

our world, so that “the mean<strong>in</strong>g or identity <strong>of</strong> a<br />

th<strong>in</strong>g is given <strong>in</strong> itself alone, rather than the ‘liv<strong>in</strong>g’<br />

context <strong>of</strong> which it is a part” (Taussig 1977, 153). If<br />

we look at (or th<strong>in</strong>k <strong>of</strong>) an animal and only see<br />

“the animal,” we have objectified it. <strong>The</strong> animal is<br />

at once put at risk, for we can reposition it <strong>in</strong>to<br />

whatever context we choose – literally so <strong>in</strong> the<br />

case <strong>of</strong> farmed animals, where a pig is an<br />

animal that “lives <strong>in</strong> a sty,” cows “give us milk,”<br />

and so on. But the emergence <strong>of</strong> our adverts<br />

co<strong>in</strong>cides with an era where<strong>in</strong> which<br />

“environment” has become an arena <strong>of</strong><br />

contention and <strong>in</strong>tense exam<strong>in</strong>ation. New<br />

awareness <strong>of</strong> ourselves as impact<strong>in</strong>g upon the<br />

natural world raise a parallel shift <strong>in</strong> our<br />

understand<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> “animal,” from animal “as<br />

object,” to animal as active participant <strong>in</strong> the<br />

wider landscape. In his work on “Dwell<strong>in</strong>g”<br />

(2000b), Ingold views landscape as “cont<strong>in</strong>ually<br />

com<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>to be<strong>in</strong>g through the comb<strong>in</strong>ed action<br />

46<br />

<strong>of</strong> human and non-human agencies” (2000b,<br />

155). He states: “<strong>The</strong> most fundamental th<strong>in</strong>g<br />

about life is that it does not beg<strong>in</strong> here or end<br />

there, but is always go<strong>in</strong>g on ... Environments are<br />

never complete but are always under<br />

construction” (Ingold 2000b, 172). This temporal<br />

“becom<strong>in</strong>g” <strong>of</strong> landscape, <strong>in</strong> which many agents<br />

participate, can be considered as a Latourian<br />

Actor Network, where<strong>in</strong> which it is “no longer just<br />

the human who transports <strong>in</strong>formation through<br />

transformation, but the nonhuman as well” (Latour<br />

1999, 122), underscor<strong>in</strong>g the function<br />

<strong>of</strong> association between a range <strong>of</strong><br />

heterogeneous, agential elements <strong>in</strong>volved <strong>in</strong><br />

any com<strong>in</strong>g-to-be (Latour 2005, 5). When viewed<br />

as an ecological construct, this positively<br />

demands the recognition <strong>of</strong> non-human “agents”<br />

as “act<strong>in</strong>g” dwellers <strong>in</strong> the wider landscape.<br />

From with<strong>in</strong> the climate change era <strong>of</strong><br />

“environmental crisis,” a phenomenon evok<strong>in</strong>g<br />

responses that range from alarmism or<br />

zealousness to apathy or even denial, the retreat<br />

<strong>of</strong> the “natural,” together with the decl<strong>in</strong>e <strong>of</strong> its<br />

non-human dwellers, appears as one <strong>of</strong> the more<br />

palpable <strong>of</strong> major concerns. While such a<br />

recognition might further the valu<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> the<br />

animal per se, it does so with<strong>in</strong> a broader context<br />

<strong>of</strong> risk to the wellbe<strong>in</strong>g and survival <strong>of</strong> not only the<br />

natural world and its parts, but <strong>in</strong> turn <strong>of</strong> the<br />

human species. My contention, then, that the<br />

portrayals <strong>of</strong> animals as “free agents” <strong>in</strong> these four<br />

adverts <strong>in</strong>dicate a desire to return animals to<br />

landscape, is on these grounds. Where Lerner<br />

and Kal<strong>of</strong>, <strong>in</strong> a survey <strong>of</strong> television commercials<br />

dur<strong>in</strong>g the late 1990’s, noted that animals used or<br />

consumed by humans tend to be portrayed as<br />

“distanced” by avoid<strong>in</strong>g “humanis<strong>in</strong>g” them

(Lerner and Kal<strong>of</strong> 1999), the four adverts <strong>in</strong> this<br />

analysis distance us from the animals <strong>in</strong> vary<strong>in</strong>g<br />

ways and, <strong>in</strong> do<strong>in</strong>g so, simultaneously tap <strong>in</strong>to an<br />

overarch<strong>in</strong>g popular concern, that <strong>of</strong> the security<br />

<strong>of</strong> the natural world – a concern<br />

which <strong>in</strong>cludes the wellbe<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> animals via their<br />

“release” from our physical and ethical<br />

constra<strong>in</strong>ts. [iii] This “camouflag<strong>in</strong>g” (Grauerholz<br />

2007) and reposition<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> the real animal<br />

both removes responsibility from the consumer<br />

(Grauerholz 2007, 347-348), <strong>in</strong> terms <strong>of</strong><br />

commodity and ongo<strong>in</strong>g consumer status, and<br />

yet <strong>of</strong>fers the consumer an ersatz opportunity to<br />

participate <strong>in</strong> the re<strong>in</strong>statement <strong>of</strong> animals as<br />

“free-agents,” [iv] and thus to “contribute” to the<br />

safeguard<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> the natural world.<br />

If to reposition animals <strong>in</strong> landscape is to<br />

render them “free-agents,” then advertisers are<br />

clearly tasked with the reversal <strong>of</strong> our assessments<br />

<strong>of</strong> them as <strong>in</strong>capable <strong>of</strong> free-agency. How does<br />

this work? <strong>The</strong> ma<strong>in</strong> difficulty, as noted, is that <strong>of</strong><br />

ascrib<strong>in</strong>g animals rational thought. Yet our<br />

conceptions <strong>of</strong> freedom and agency can be<br />

challenged, for example, by the work <strong>of</strong> Thrift who<br />

po<strong>in</strong>ts out that cognition functions at the level <strong>of</strong><br />

the body (and the senses) much <strong>of</strong> the time (Thrift<br />

2003, 314). He uses this po<strong>in</strong>t to extrapolate the<br />

notion <strong>of</strong> body at the impart<strong>in</strong>g moment <strong>of</strong> its<br />

existence, “bare life,” which, unfolded, becomes<br />

“axvastxbiopoliticalxdoma<strong>in</strong>” (2003,313). Conceivi<br />

ng bodies this way, he argues, highlights “new<br />

paths along which we move,” creat<strong>in</strong>g relations<br />

with the world about us that become<br />

“exfoliations <strong>of</strong> the space <strong>of</strong> the body that can be<br />

treated separately” (2003,114, quot<strong>in</strong>g Gil: 1998,<br />

127). On these terms, the “exfoliations” <strong>of</strong> a cow<br />

conf<strong>in</strong>ed <strong>in</strong> a dairy turn out to be dairy (or meat)<br />

products, while the “exfoliations” <strong>of</strong> an animal “<strong>in</strong><br />

the wild” emerge via the animal’s participation <strong>in</strong><br />

the ongo<strong>in</strong>g construction <strong>of</strong> landscape. In both<br />

cases, the animal is therefore an agent, but only<br />

<strong>in</strong> the second case is the animal “free.”<br />

Kant’s claim (1959) that it is only<br />

<strong>in</strong> the rational actions <strong>of</strong> a “moral” agent that true<br />

freedom can exist, po<strong>in</strong>ts to “morality” as a further<br />

difficulty for animals and free-agency. Whilst it has<br />

been shown that animals may <strong>in</strong> fact possess<br />

altruistic behaviours (e.g. Bek<strong>of</strong>f 2004; de Waal<br />

2010), the idea <strong>of</strong> “morality” rema<strong>in</strong>s grounded,<br />

philosophically, <strong>in</strong> our notions <strong>of</strong> human m<strong>in</strong>ds.<br />

We can, however, take a different approach to<br />

this and th<strong>in</strong>k <strong>in</strong>stead <strong>in</strong> terms <strong>of</strong> a “capacity to<br />

achieve the wider good.” As long as we are<br />

content to believe that animals possess no such<br />

capacity, nor a capacity for “rationality,” then it<br />

appears unproblematic to reposition them with<strong>in</strong><br />

47<br />

our systems, provided that they are “properly<br />

looked after.” But if the “becom<strong>in</strong>g” <strong>of</strong> landscape<br />

requires the <strong>in</strong>volvement <strong>of</strong> both human and nonhuman<br />

agencies (Ingold 2000b, 155), then our<br />

assumptions start to look flakey. <strong>The</strong> “free-agency”<br />

<strong>of</strong> animals conta<strong>in</strong>s a wider good, even under<br />

the terms <strong>of</strong> those who are unable to see it as a<br />

benefit for the animal him or herself.<br />

<strong>The</strong> four adverts between them clearly<br />

evoke a poignant message, one to which viewers<br />

seem largely to be attuned. Expanses <strong>of</strong> ra<strong>in</strong>forest<br />

(through which a “clever elephant” strides);<br />

endless natural habitats across the world; the<br />

animals themselves, once liv<strong>in</strong>g creatures strewn<br />

across our (“sad stretches <strong>of</strong>”) roads; whole<br />

species <strong>of</strong> “wild” animal – all are vanish<strong>in</strong>g, it<br />

seems, before our eyes (Frankl<strong>in</strong> 1999, 58, Serpell<br />

1996, 233). We seem at a loss as to how to<br />

“remake” disappear<strong>in</strong>g “nature,” for whatever we<br />

“make” by human hand appears to us as no<br />

natural th<strong>in</strong>g, but rather artefact. In distill<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

animal out <strong>of</strong> ourselves (e.g. Midgley 1994) we<br />

seem to have lost our way and thus now need<br />

that “animal” to be “free.” Hence these adverts,<br />

while they are <strong>in</strong>controvertibly tools <strong>of</strong> the world <strong>of</strong><br />

commodity (together with all that this implies),<br />

and while they assuredly function to obfuscate<br />

the real lives <strong>of</strong> animals (Cole 2011), on the other<br />

hand do po<strong>in</strong>t to a pr<strong>of</strong>ound shift <strong>in</strong> popular<br />

th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g. What these adverts, I suggest, portend –<br />

and <strong>in</strong> this sense encourag<strong>in</strong>gly – is at least a<br />

grow<strong>in</strong>g popular “desire” to rematerialise, through<br />

the release <strong>of</strong> the “animal,” the disappear<strong>in</strong>g<br />

natural world. <strong>The</strong> question <strong>of</strong> course is ... how to<br />

render “desire” dynamic, so that it enters the<br />

deeply exigent sphere <strong>of</strong> change.<br />

Research Statement<br />

This paper orig<strong>in</strong>ates from a larger dissertation,<br />

the research for which <strong>in</strong>cluded two short<br />

qualitative surveys (2010), [v] each straightforwardly<br />

request<strong>in</strong>g a response to three or four <strong>of</strong> the<br />

adverts. One survey, via H-Animal.net, collected<br />

responses from scholars with <strong>in</strong>terests <strong>in</strong> animal<br />

studies; the other was distributed to a range <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>in</strong>dividuals across different pr<strong>of</strong>essions, a portion<br />

<strong>of</strong> whom had environmental <strong>in</strong>terests generally<br />

(e.g. members <strong>of</strong> Transition Town, RSPB, HDRA,<br />

Greenpeace, and so on). While only some<br />

aspects <strong>of</strong> the f<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>gs are <strong>in</strong>cluded <strong>in</strong> this shorter<br />

piece, I nonetheless wish to thank all who<br />

participated <strong>in</strong> these surveys for their comments,<br />

and <strong>in</strong> particular Eric Jonas<br />

<strong>of</strong> Northwestern University and Dr. Audrey Kali<br />

<strong>of</strong> Fram<strong>in</strong>gham State University whose comments,

with their permissions, I have cited.<br />

Notes<br />

1 As Cranston po<strong>in</strong>ts out, if someone were to approach us on the<br />

street and claim “I am free,” we would have little idea what they<br />

meant (1967, 3). Have they just walked out on their partner? Have<br />

they been let out <strong>of</strong> jail? Is it a political statement? We are obliged to<br />

ask the question “freedom from what?” if there is to be any hope <strong>of</strong><br />

our ascerta<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g what is meant by “freedom” <strong>in</strong> a given application<br />

(Cranston 1967, 5-6).<br />

2 <strong>The</strong> Highway Code: “Dangerous driv<strong>in</strong>g” is an <strong>of</strong>fence;<br />

“dangerous,” accord<strong>in</strong>g to the Road Traffic Act 1991, means<br />

“danger either <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>jury to any person or <strong>of</strong> serious danger to<br />

property” (RTA Part 1, Section 1, No’s 1-3).<br />

3 In the 2010 qualitative surveys undertaken as part <strong>of</strong> the research<br />

for this project, those directly express<strong>in</strong>g concerns <strong>in</strong> relation to<br />

animal welfare tended to be alert to the gaps between the real and<br />

the portrayed lives <strong>of</strong> animals, whereas roughly two thirds <strong>of</strong> those<br />

disclos<strong>in</strong>g no such concerns took a support<strong>in</strong>g or even celebratory<br />

stance towards the “release” <strong>of</strong> animals depicted. Both groups<br />

therefore support the “release” <strong>of</strong> animals from human constra<strong>in</strong>ts,<br />

while a third, but smaller group, actively defended farm<strong>in</strong>g<br />

practices.<br />

4 Even the child participants <strong>of</strong> the survey noted the “cover-ups;”<br />

one, for example, stated: “Hav<strong>in</strong>g animals <strong>in</strong> this advert [LG’s “Clever<br />

elephant”] defeats how un-environmentally friendly TV’s are,<br />

because you are see<strong>in</strong>g all this nature, which makes people forget<br />

how bad it is for the environment.”<br />

5 Conducted <strong>in</strong> accordance with the ASA Ethical Guidel<strong>in</strong>es for<br />

Good Research Practice (1999); website <strong>of</strong> the Association <strong>of</strong> Social<br />

Anthropologists <strong>of</strong> the UK and Commonwealth.<br />

Bibliography<br />

Bek<strong>of</strong>f, Marc. (2004). Wild Justice and Fair Play: Cooperation,<br />

Forgiveness and Morality. <strong>Animals</strong>, Biology and Philosophy, 19, 489-<br />

520.<br />

Carr, C. L. (1988). Coercion and Freedom. American Philosophical<br />

Quarterly , 25 (1), 59-67.<br />

Cole, Matthew. (2011). From “Animal Mach<strong>in</strong>es” to “Happy Meat?”<br />

Foucault’s Ideas <strong>of</strong> Discipl<strong>in</strong>ary and Pastoral Power Applied to<br />

“Animal-Centred” Welfare Discourse. Animal, 1, 83-101.<br />

Cranston, M. (1967). Freedom (3rd ed.). New York: Basic Books.<br />

Darier, Eric (Ed.). (1999) Discourses <strong>of</strong> the Environment. Oxford:<br />

Blackwell.<br />

De Waal, F. (2010). <strong>The</strong> Age <strong>of</strong> Empathy: <strong>Nature</strong>’s Lessons for a<br />

K<strong>in</strong>der Society. London: Souvenir Press.<br />

Ethical Guidel<strong>in</strong>es for Good Research Practice. Retrieved September<br />

25 th , 2010, from Association <strong>of</strong> Social Anthropologists <strong>of</strong> the UK and<br />

Commonwealth: http://www.theasa.org/ethics/guidel<strong>in</strong>es.shtml<br />

Foucault, M. (1984). Right <strong>of</strong> Death and Power over Life. In P.<br />

Rab<strong>in</strong>ow (Ed.), <strong>The</strong> Foucault Reader. London: Pengu<strong>in</strong>.<br />

Frankl<strong>in</strong>, A. (1999). <strong>Animals</strong> <strong>in</strong> Modern <strong>Culture</strong>s: A Sociology <strong>of</strong><br />

Human-Animal Relations <strong>in</strong> Modernity. London: Sage.<br />

Gil, J. (1998). Metamorphoses <strong>of</strong> the Body. M<strong>in</strong>neapolis: University <strong>of</strong><br />

M<strong>in</strong>nesota Press.<br />

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Harvey, D. (1989) <strong>The</strong> Condition <strong>of</strong> Postmodernity. Oxford: Blackwell.<br />

Grauerholz, Elizabeth. (2007). Cute Enough to Eat: <strong>The</strong><br />

Transformation <strong>of</strong> <strong>Animals</strong> <strong>in</strong>to Meat for Human Consumption <strong>in</strong><br />

Commercialized Images. Humanity & Society 31 (4), 334-354.<br />

Ingold, T. (2000a). From Trust to Dom<strong>in</strong>ation. In T. Ingold, <strong>The</strong><br />

Perception <strong>of</strong> the Environment: Essays <strong>in</strong> Livelihood, Dwell<strong>in</strong>g and<br />

Skill (pp. 61-76). London: Routledge.<br />

Ingold, T. (2000b). <strong>The</strong> Perception <strong>of</strong> the Environment: Essays <strong>in</strong><br />

Livelihood, Dwell<strong>in</strong>g and Skill. London: Routledge.<br />

Jones, O. (2003). “<strong>The</strong> Restra<strong>in</strong>t <strong>of</strong> Beasts:” Rurality, Animality, Actor<br />

Network <strong>The</strong>ory and Dwell<strong>in</strong>g. In P. Cloke, Country Visions (pp. 283-<br />

307). Essex: Pearson.<br />

Kant, I. (1959). Foundations <strong>of</strong> the Metaphysics <strong>of</strong> Morals. (L. W. Beck,<br />

Trans.) USA: <strong>The</strong> Liberal Arts Press.<br />

Last Chance to See (2009), BBC<br />

website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/lastchancetosee/.<br />

Latour, Bruno. (1999). Pandora’s Hope: Essays on the Reality <strong>of</strong><br />

Science Studies. London: Harvard University Press.<br />

Latour, Bruno. (2005). Reassembl<strong>in</strong>g the Social: an Introduction to<br />

Actor-Network <strong>The</strong>ory. UK: Oxford University Press.<br />

Lerner, Jennifer and L<strong>in</strong>da Kal<strong>of</strong>. (1999). <strong>The</strong> Animal Text: Message<br />

and Mean<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> Television Advertisements. <strong>The</strong> Sociological<br />

Quarterly, 40 (4), 565-86.<br />

Midgley, M. (1994). Beasts, Brutes and Monsters. In T. Ingold<br />

(Ed.), What is an Animal? (pp. 35-46). London: Routledge.<br />

Mull<strong>in</strong>, M. H. (1999). Mirrors and W<strong>in</strong>dows: Sociocultural Studies <strong>of</strong><br />

Human-Animal Relationships. Annual Review <strong>of</strong> Anthropology, 28,<br />

201-224.<br />

Noske, B. (1997). Beyond Boundaries: Humans and <strong>Animals</strong>. London:<br />

Black Rose.<br />

Philo, C., & Wibert, C. (2007). Animal Spaces, Beastly Places: New<br />

Geographies <strong>of</strong> Human-Animal Relations. (C. Philo, & C. Wilbert,<br />

Eds.) Oxon: Routledge.<br />

Regan, T. (1983). <strong>The</strong> Case for Animal Rights. Berkeley: University <strong>of</strong><br />

California Press.<br />

Sahl<strong>in</strong>s, M. (1976). La Pensee Bourgeoise: Western Society as <strong>Culture</strong>.<br />

In M. Sahl<strong>in</strong>s, <strong>Culture</strong> and Practical Reason (pp. 166-204). Chicago:<br />

University <strong>of</strong> Chicago Press.<br />

Serpell, J. (1996). In the Company <strong>of</strong> <strong>Animals</strong> (2nd ed.). Cambridge:<br />

Cambridge University Press.<br />

S<strong>in</strong>ger, Peter. (1977). Animal Liberation. New York: Avon.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Highway Code. (n.d.). Retrieved November 12th, 2010, from<br />

DirectGov:<br />

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TravelAndTransport/Highwaycode/DG_06<br />

9858<br />

Taussig, M. (1977). <strong>The</strong> Genesis <strong>of</strong> Capitalism Amongst a South<br />

American Peasantry: Devil’s Labour and the Baptism <strong>of</strong><br />

Money. Comparative Studies <strong>in</strong> Society , 19, 130-155.<br />

Thrift, N. (2003). Still Life <strong>in</strong> Nearly Present Time: the Object <strong>of</strong> <strong>Nature</strong>.<br />

In P. Cloke (Ed.), Country Visions (pp. 308-331). Essex: Pearson.<br />

Louise Squire has an MA with Dist<strong>in</strong>ction <strong>in</strong> Philosophy (<strong>Nature</strong> Pathway), from the University <strong>of</strong><br />

Wales, the present article be<strong>in</strong>g based on Louise's MA dissertation: '<strong>The</strong> <strong>Animals</strong> Are<br />

‘Break<strong>in</strong>g Out’! Critical Analysis <strong>of</strong> a Discerned Shift <strong>in</strong> TV Advertis<strong>in</strong>g Towards Representations<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>Animals</strong> as ‘Free-Agents’' (2011). Louise is currently registered as a PhD Candidate at the<br />

University <strong>of</strong> Surrey, and her thesis exam<strong>in</strong>es the problem <strong>of</strong> "death" <strong>in</strong> relation to<br />

"environmental crisis" <strong>in</strong> Contemporary Literature. Louise has primary <strong>in</strong>terests <strong>in</strong> Literary<br />

<strong>The</strong>ory, Poststructuralism, and Contemporary (especially 21st Century) Literature, with<strong>in</strong><br />

English Literature, whilst also hav<strong>in</strong>g an <strong>in</strong>terdiscipl<strong>in</strong>ary background, with additional <strong>in</strong>terests<br />

ma<strong>in</strong>ly <strong>in</strong> Environmental Philosophy and Anthrozoology. Louise's central concern is <strong>in</strong><br />

explor<strong>in</strong>g the value <strong>of</strong> the works <strong>of</strong> the French th<strong>in</strong>kers--and Cont<strong>in</strong>ental Philosophies more<br />

generally--to the analysis <strong>of</strong> literary and media sources <strong>in</strong> the contemporary "environmental<br />

crisis" world.

I<br />

<strong>of</strong>ten wonder what the meet<strong>in</strong>gs at an ad<br />

agency are like when the topic <strong>of</strong> animals<br />

comes up. It must be hard to th<strong>in</strong>k <strong>of</strong> anyth<strong>in</strong>g<br />

new to do with them, although special effects<br />

have allowed us to make animals seem to talk,<br />

dance, and do other human-like th<strong>in</strong>gs. And we<br />

always seem to fall for animals (or talk<strong>in</strong>g babies)<br />

with an irreverent or comical persona.<br />

So I wasn’t surprised to f<strong>in</strong>d a great series<br />

<strong>of</strong> pr<strong>in</strong>t ads featur<strong>in</strong>g animals from the Eastern<br />

Corporation, a paper maker <strong>in</strong> Bangor, Ma<strong>in</strong>e, for<br />

its l<strong>in</strong>e <strong>of</strong> Atlantic bond pr<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g paper. <strong>The</strong>y all<br />

appeared <strong>in</strong> a series from 1946 that ran <strong>in</strong><br />

American Pr<strong>in</strong>ter magaz<strong>in</strong>e. Click on any image<br />

for a larger version.<br />

<strong>The</strong> company managed to vaguely<br />

connect the animals to the product through small<br />

poems that appeared with each illustration,<br />

which then tied <strong>in</strong> loosely to the ad copy. But like<br />

many paper company ads, the ma<strong>in</strong> po<strong>in</strong>t was<br />

to simply show <strong>of</strong>f the paper and the pr<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g<br />

quality you could achieve with it.<br />

49<br />

CAN YOU SAY,<br />

“AWWW”?<br />

<strong>Animals</strong> have long been a regular theme <strong>in</strong> advertis<strong>in</strong>g, especially when anthropomorphized. Except for obvious<br />

ties to products like dog food and pet products, animals usually have noth<strong>in</strong>g to do with the goods or services<br />

advertised, but we connect with them and the products nonetheless, and we get a good feel<strong>in</strong>g when a company<br />

is associated with cute animals.<br />

Text by Gene Gable<br />

Eastern Corporation<br />

Atlantic, 1946 Eastern Corporation

Eastern Corporation<br />

Atlantic, 1946 Eastern Corporation<br />


Representations <strong>of</strong> animals <strong>in</strong> advertis<strong>in</strong>g are<br />

persuasive constructions <strong>of</strong> how animals are<br />

perceived. <strong>The</strong>y can convey notions as<br />

disparate as the domestic, the exotic, or the<br />

‘natural’. Certa<strong>in</strong> animals such as cows and pigs<br />

conventionally appear as commodities, whereas<br />

others such as pet cats and dogs are presented<br />

as <strong>in</strong>dividuals with their own specific likes and<br />

dislikes. And across the world the corporate arena<br />

tends to favour charismatic animals, particularly<br />

the Lion. I wish to consider the use <strong>of</strong> animals <strong>in</strong><br />

advertis<strong>in</strong>g through the lens <strong>of</strong>f Foucault’s notion<br />

<strong>of</strong> the Western episteme and how cultural spaces<br />

are governed by it. However Foucault was writ<strong>in</strong>g<br />

<strong>in</strong> another era and, as Bill Mitchell has observed<br />

‘….’cyberspace and biospace’ have <strong>in</strong>troduced<br />

new frontiers for ‘technical <strong>in</strong>novation,<br />

appropriation and exploitation‘ (2005, p. 309).<br />

Current Posthumanist discourse challenges<br />

the tenets <strong>of</strong> five hundred years <strong>of</strong> normative<br />

Humanist th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g which postulated the centrality<br />

<strong>of</strong> human consciousness. Post-humanist th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g<br />

foregrounds the question <strong>of</strong> the animal by<br />

critically re-assess<strong>in</strong>g established boundaries<br />

51<br />


DESIGN<br />

<strong>The</strong> animal as sign has a long evolutionary history, but with the onset <strong>of</strong> cultural modernity it began to<br />

assume new semiotic forms. Foucault describes a new field <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>creased visibility that emerged <strong>in</strong> the<br />

eighteenth century which gave rise to a complex semiotic system with<strong>in</strong> which the sign began to take on<br />

a life <strong>of</strong> its own. If images could be regarded as liv<strong>in</strong>g organisms, how could this affect their<br />

representational values <strong>in</strong> society? And, what are the implications for the lives and representation <strong>of</strong><br />

animals?<br />

Text by Sonja Britz<br />

between humans and animals. <strong>The</strong> animal as<br />

signifier has assumed many roles and identities<br />

throughout history, <strong>of</strong>ten at the expense <strong>of</strong> the<br />

animal. <strong>The</strong> apparent evolution <strong>of</strong> the animal as<br />

signify<strong>in</strong>g element <strong>in</strong> design, could rather be<br />

described as one which has been subjected to<br />

an <strong>in</strong>verse process, an <strong>in</strong>volution, that denotes a<br />

retrograde action turn<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> on itself.<br />

Foucault assigns three major divisions to<br />

his notion <strong>of</strong> the Western episteme: firstly<br />

Renaissance, secondly Classical and lastly<br />

Modern. <strong>The</strong> latter is governed by scientific <strong>in</strong>quiry<br />

as well as urbanization. <strong>The</strong> result<strong>in</strong>g chang<strong>in</strong>g<br />

perceptions <strong>of</strong> natural history, provide, to my<br />

m<strong>in</strong>d, a framework where<strong>in</strong> views on animals<br />

could be located. His exposition <strong>of</strong> natural history<br />

and sign systems serve to <strong>in</strong>form cultural<br />

representations <strong>of</strong> animals: importantly, culture<br />

never admits unmediated access to actual<br />

animals. (Baker 2001:10). <strong>The</strong> culture <strong>of</strong> design<br />

provides a good example <strong>of</strong> how urban<br />

experiences <strong>of</strong> the animal are mediated by<br />

means <strong>of</strong> semiotics and technology and, thus,<br />

how either prejudices, or sympathies and other

Albrecht Dürer<br />

Indian Rh<strong>in</strong>oceros, 1515, <strong>The</strong> British Museum, London<br />

stereotypical attitudes towards animals filter quite<br />

seamlessly through these representations. <strong>The</strong><br />

producer, designer and viewer (the latter as<br />

<strong>in</strong>tended consumer) are forced <strong>in</strong>to complicity.<br />

In order to establish an acceptable<br />

evolutionary model, it is important to compare<br />

our episteme to preced<strong>in</strong>g ones with regard to<br />

natural history and representational strategies.<br />

Accord<strong>in</strong>g to Foucault, the first division <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Western episteme, namely the Renaissance,<br />

consisted <strong>of</strong> a complex system <strong>of</strong> similitude, <strong>in</strong><br />

which the concern was not so much related to<br />

the animals themselves, but to what they signified<br />

for human be<strong>in</strong>gs. Develop<strong>in</strong>g from Medieval<br />

bestiaries, strange and exotic animals were<br />

assimilated <strong>in</strong>to an exist<strong>in</strong>g cultural order which<br />

was based on an emblematic, imperialist visual<br />

tradition. <strong>The</strong> results <strong>of</strong> empirical observation<br />

52<br />

played a m<strong>in</strong>or part <strong>in</strong> 16 th century<br />

representations <strong>of</strong> animals: the normative, which<br />

fitted <strong>in</strong>to the cultural matrix, rather than the<br />

observed animal, was represented.<br />

A good example <strong>of</strong> this would be Dürer’s<br />

rh<strong>in</strong>oceros (1515) (which became the<br />

acceptable icon/emblem <strong>of</strong> the animal - even<br />

though it differed from exist<strong>in</strong>g contemporary<br />

empirical observations and studies <strong>of</strong> the actual<br />

animal.<br />

On another level, there was a great<br />

curiosity for the visual relationship <strong>of</strong> one th<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

another - which favoured the symbolic - and<br />

stood <strong>in</strong> opposition to the 16 th century rhetoric <strong>of</strong><br />

science, which has been described as<br />

“dim<strong>in</strong>ished <strong>in</strong> visibility” ( Baker 2001: 20) due to its<br />

fasc<strong>in</strong>ation with the hidden, organic structural<br />

connections between th<strong>in</strong>gs.

In the second section <strong>of</strong> the Western episteme,<br />

called the Classical, the great tripartition between<br />

observation, document and fable (differences<br />

between, firstly, what one sees; secondly, what<br />

has been observed and thirdly, what others<br />

imag<strong>in</strong>e or believe) did not yet exist, and the<br />

reason for this was that signs were then regarded<br />

as part <strong>of</strong> th<strong>in</strong>gs themselves. In the 17 th century<br />

they became modes <strong>of</strong> representation (Foucault<br />

2002:140-141) evolv<strong>in</strong>g their own sign systems.<br />

In the 18th century, L<strong>in</strong>naeus (Systema<br />

Natural, 1759) <strong>in</strong>itiated a new system <strong>of</strong><br />

connect<strong>in</strong>g th<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>in</strong> the world to observation and<br />

to discourse: the strangeness <strong>of</strong> animals was no<br />

longer regarded as spectacle (as <strong>in</strong> the 16 th<br />

century) but became the object <strong>of</strong> study for<br />

taxonomic purposes. <strong>The</strong> causal relationship<br />

between this view and the birth <strong>of</strong> natural history<br />

as we know it today, is quite obvious. It was clearly<br />

not the result <strong>of</strong> a new <strong>in</strong>terest <strong>in</strong> nature and its<br />

creatures (because the orig<strong>in</strong>s <strong>of</strong> this <strong>in</strong>terest can<br />

be traced back to pre-history) but really the<br />

construction <strong>of</strong> a new field <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>creased visibility -<br />

which depended on both exclusion and<br />

systematisation (Foucault 2002:144-145). That<br />

which could not be seen, was utilized as a<br />

classificatory tool, giv<strong>in</strong>g rise to the development<br />

<strong>of</strong> complex sign systems, dislocat<strong>in</strong>g the sign<br />

from the th<strong>in</strong>g itself. Signs began to take on a life<br />

<strong>of</strong> their own.<br />

In the late 20 th and early 21 st centuries, the<br />

position<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> the human species <strong>in</strong> nature can<br />

be described as heavily mediated by<br />

technology. As both visual and audio-visual<br />

media govern most mass media imagery,<br />

<strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g that <strong>of</strong> the animal, there should be no<br />

problem to present the consum<strong>in</strong>g public with<br />

accurate, <strong>in</strong> situ representations <strong>of</strong> animals.<br />

Verisimilitude, rather than similitude <strong>in</strong> some<br />

representations, serves as ersatz quality for<br />

contact with actual animals.<br />

To a large extent, for human urban<br />

populations, biological diversity has def<strong>in</strong>itively<br />

become a pure virtual reality: one that has its<br />

orig<strong>in</strong>s <strong>in</strong>, and also is constructed by and given<br />

content by three communication forces, namely<br />

computer generated imagery, television<br />

documentaries and brand<strong>in</strong>g strategies. It is a<br />

fact that, <strong>in</strong> their daily liv<strong>in</strong>g, current human urban<br />

populations are exposed to a very limited number<br />

<strong>of</strong> animal species. <strong>The</strong> viewer’s experience <strong>of</strong> the<br />

animal therefore happens to be primarily a<br />

mediated one. <strong>The</strong> consequent<br />

simulation/representation <strong>of</strong> the animal, therefore<br />

divorces the animal from its proper life context <strong>in</strong><br />

53<br />

order to fulfil the requirements as set out <strong>in</strong> the<br />

consumer <strong>in</strong>dustry.<br />

W.J.T. Mitchell compares the iconologist to<br />

a natural historian: images and pictures are<br />

compared to species and specimens <strong>in</strong> order to<br />

expla<strong>in</strong> how new images appear <strong>in</strong> the world,<br />

what these effect , what they mean and how they<br />

change (Mitchell 2005: 86-87). Accord<strong>in</strong>g to this<br />

theory, images could therefore be subjected to<br />

ext<strong>in</strong>ction, mutation and evolution or, exist, at<br />

least, as co- evolutionary entities with human<br />

be<strong>in</strong>gs. Darw<strong>in</strong>ian evolutionary theory propounds<br />

that common ancestral stock adapts to exist<strong>in</strong>g<br />

conditions and are susceptible to gradual<br />

modification over time. Populations are held <strong>in</strong><br />

check through natural selection and survival <strong>of</strong><br />

the fittest, the latter fulfill<strong>in</strong>g the demands <strong>of</strong> the “<br />

economy <strong>of</strong> nature” (White & Cribb<strong>in</strong> 1995:2000).<br />

Transmutation is a resultant process <strong>in</strong> which the<br />

modified <strong>of</strong>fspr<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> all dom<strong>in</strong>ant and <strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>g<br />

forms tend to become adapted to many and<br />

highly developed places with<strong>in</strong> the economy <strong>of</strong><br />

nature. An <strong>in</strong>terest<strong>in</strong>g view developed by Deleuze<br />

and Guattari explodes the old model <strong>of</strong> the<br />

evolutionary tree <strong>of</strong> descent. <strong>The</strong>y <strong>in</strong>troduce - as<br />

they themselves call it - a schema <strong>of</strong> aparallel<br />

evolution; I quote from A thousand plateaus:<br />

“rhizomes operat<strong>in</strong>g already <strong>in</strong> the<br />

heterogeneous and jump<strong>in</strong>g from one already<br />

differentiated l<strong>in</strong>e to another” (2004: 11). It follows<br />

that evolutionary processes are not judged, but<br />

simply are: a species is neither good nor bad<br />

(Mitchell 2005:86).<br />

By contrast to evolutionary theory, historical<br />

analysis is traditionally l<strong>in</strong>ear, a process <strong>of</strong><br />

analogue and chronology. An historical survey <strong>of</strong><br />

the animal as sign will be helpful <strong>in</strong> identify<strong>in</strong>g<br />

certa<strong>in</strong> classificatory paradigms <strong>in</strong> which the<br />

animal had been manifested. Abject<br />

representations <strong>of</strong> the animal as exotic other can<br />

be traced from Roman times through to the 19 th<br />

century and early 20th century circus productions.<br />

More recently, to use Steve Baker’s term,<br />

“disnification” <strong>of</strong> animals <strong>in</strong> representation, has<br />

led to animals be<strong>in</strong>g trivialized, signify<strong>in</strong>g<br />

cuteness, humour and disempowerment.<br />

“Disnification” immediately conjures up its prime<br />

referent – signification – a term which is<br />

employed to bestow mean<strong>in</strong>g and credibility on<br />

the subject. By juxtapos<strong>in</strong>g these two concepts,<br />

Baker po<strong>in</strong>ts to the trivializ<strong>in</strong>g nature <strong>of</strong> animal<br />

representation wherever it occurs <strong>in</strong> the mass<br />

media. It is a common phenomenon to notice<br />

that marg<strong>in</strong>alized, disempowered groups are<br />

<strong>of</strong>ten metaphorically classified as one <strong>of</strong> a

Barnum, Bailey and Hutch<strong>in</strong>son<br />

Jumbo, colour lithograph 1896<br />

54<br />

Fig. 1. Albrecht Dürer<br />

Indian Rh<strong>in</strong>oceros, 1515, <strong>The</strong> British Museum, London<br />

Fig. 1. Albrecht Dürer<br />

Indian Rh<strong>in</strong>oceros, 1515, <strong>The</strong> British Museum, London

number <strong>of</strong> animal species, because <strong>in</strong> the<br />

hierarchy <strong>of</strong> the “anthropological mach<strong>in</strong>e”<br />

(Agamben 2004:37) the animal is seen as<br />

humanity’s lowest denom<strong>in</strong>ator .<br />

<strong>The</strong> metapicture suggested by Mitchell, <strong>of</strong><br />

regard<strong>in</strong>g images as liv<strong>in</strong>g organisms, opens up<br />

an important arena <strong>of</strong> debate around the value<br />

<strong>of</strong> representations <strong>in</strong> a social context. Biologists<br />

also question seem<strong>in</strong>g certa<strong>in</strong>ties with<strong>in</strong> their field<br />

<strong>of</strong> knowledge, and the worth and validity <strong>of</strong> their<br />

classificatory systems. Similar to biologists, one<br />

cannot evaluate species/images but needs to<br />

consider the values <strong>in</strong>troduced <strong>in</strong>to the world by<br />

new forms. <strong>The</strong>se might possibly contest exist<strong>in</strong>g<br />

criteria and effect a change <strong>of</strong> m<strong>in</strong>d. Images are<br />

therefore not merely passive entities requir<strong>in</strong>g<br />

human hosts to activate them. <strong>The</strong>y “re-function<br />

our memories and imag<strong>in</strong>ations, br<strong>in</strong>g<strong>in</strong>g new<br />

criteria and new desires <strong>in</strong>to the world” (Mitchel<br />

2005:92).<br />

<strong>The</strong> question that needs to be asked here,<br />

is whether the images that do survive the cultural<br />

evolutionary process are necessarily beneficial to<br />

the iconotype <strong>of</strong> its life form, <strong>in</strong> this case be<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the animal. Walter Benjam<strong>in</strong> rem<strong>in</strong>ds us <strong>of</strong> this<br />

danger when he says: ”For every image <strong>of</strong> the<br />

past that is not recognized by the present as one<br />

<strong>of</strong> its concerns, threatens to disappear<br />

irretrievably” (1999:247). It is also important to<br />

identify and recognize the semiotic structures<br />

underly<strong>in</strong>g these survivor images, not so much for<br />

purposes <strong>of</strong> classification as for clarification.<br />

<strong>The</strong> cultural matrix imposed by economic<br />

forces <strong>in</strong> society on the representation <strong>of</strong> animals<br />

can ironically be metaphorically equated to the<br />

“economy <strong>of</strong> nature” – a concept I borrow from<br />

the field <strong>of</strong> evolutionary theory. Large corporate<br />

companies <strong>in</strong> S.A., like Vodacom, Investec,<br />

Hollards and Impala Plat<strong>in</strong>um, each employ their<br />

choice <strong>of</strong> animal <strong>in</strong> order to enforce a specific<br />

brand image. This brand image ostensibly implies<br />

environmental awareness and susta<strong>in</strong>ability; or at<br />

worst, it suggests a false metaphor which is de<br />

facto harmful to the animal.<br />

Large corporations - as mentioned above<br />

- <strong>of</strong>ten will<strong>in</strong>gly write blank cheques to protect<br />

certa<strong>in</strong> animal species. In fact, policies <strong>in</strong> regard<br />

<strong>of</strong> susta<strong>in</strong>ability and social responsibility are today<br />

essential strategies for economic exchange. This<br />

will<strong>in</strong>gness to pay may be on the <strong>in</strong>crease,<br />

thereby pos<strong>in</strong>g the follow<strong>in</strong>g risk: bus<strong>in</strong>esses like<br />

m<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g and other <strong>in</strong>dustries, might feel less<br />

burdened by the fact that their particular<br />

<strong>in</strong>dustries may be affect<strong>in</strong>g less visible habitats or<br />

less attractive animals that are usually not referred<br />

55<br />

to as icons <strong>of</strong> species loss. A recent Reuters report<br />

states that: “ As world wealth tends to grow,<br />

will<strong>in</strong>gness to pay to protect species is grow<strong>in</strong>g<br />

even faster” (<strong>The</strong> Star, 11 May 2006:11).<br />

“However, spend<strong>in</strong>g money to save is not as<br />

important or valuable as not spend<strong>in</strong>g money to<br />

not destroy” (<strong>The</strong> Star, 11 May 2006:11). A UN<br />

report <strong>in</strong> March 2006 (<strong>The</strong> Star, 11 May 2006:11)<br />

stated that: ”humans were caus<strong>in</strong>g the worst<br />

spate <strong>of</strong> ext<strong>in</strong>ctions s<strong>in</strong>ce the d<strong>in</strong>osaurs vanished<br />

65 million years ago.”<br />

In the section to follow, I will be discuss<strong>in</strong>g<br />

three examples <strong>of</strong> animal representation as they<br />

appear <strong>in</strong> advertis<strong>in</strong>g material. I will pay attention<br />

to the follow<strong>in</strong>g four tropes respectively employed<br />

<strong>in</strong> each <strong>of</strong> the chosen examples: metaphor,<br />

metonymy, anthropomorphism (or<br />

personification) and totem.<br />

My first example: <strong>The</strong> computer generated<br />

figure for the cellular phone company,<br />

Vodacom, named “ Mo”, is a case <strong>in</strong> po<strong>in</strong>t. <strong>The</strong><br />

topos <strong>of</strong> the computer animated meerkat (a<br />

species <strong>in</strong> the mongoose family) f<strong>in</strong>ds its roots <strong>in</strong><br />

the world <strong>of</strong> Disney enterta<strong>in</strong>ment and then<br />

matures <strong>in</strong> Vodacom’s market<strong>in</strong>g campaign with<br />

promises to share pr<strong>of</strong>its aimed at benefit<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

upgrad<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> the meerkat enclosure at the<br />

Johannesburg Zoo. <strong>The</strong> image <strong>of</strong> the computer<br />

generated meerkat has enormous eyes and a<br />

corrupted, cute appearance. This image can be<br />

classified as both anthropomorphic and<br />

neotenous. Furthermore, the metaphoric and<br />

metonymic dynamics <strong>of</strong> this representation<br />

complicate the strategies employed <strong>in</strong> the<br />

creation <strong>of</strong> this image. <strong>The</strong>se will be discussed <strong>in</strong><br />

the paragraph to follow.<br />

Anthropomorphic <strong>in</strong>terpretations <strong>of</strong><br />

animals are common-place <strong>in</strong> art and the<br />

media. <strong>The</strong> roots <strong>of</strong> the attribution <strong>of</strong> human<br />

motives and behaviour to animals can be traced<br />

to traditions like Greek mythology, fables,<br />

children’s stories and, more recently, the banality<br />

<strong>of</strong> Disneyworld and movies like Ice Age. This<br />

phenomenon most <strong>of</strong>ten conflates with that <strong>of</strong><br />

metaphoric language and sign. John Berger<br />

argues that: “it is not unreasonable to suppose<br />

that the first metaphor was animal” (Berger<br />

1980:90).<strong>The</strong> animal as metaphor proposes a<br />

relationship between humans and animals which<br />

may not at first glance seem exploitative, and <strong>in</strong><br />

many, especially literary examples, actually are<br />

not.<br />

However, when the animal is used as<br />

metaphor denot<strong>in</strong>g the Other, b<strong>in</strong>ary oppositions<br />

are activated and the animal is usually

Unknown Artist<br />

<strong>The</strong> Orang-Outang Carry<strong>in</strong>g Off a Negro Girl, <strong>in</strong> Nederveen Pieterse 1992:38<br />


2006. Image show<strong>in</strong>g advertisement for Vodacom’s<br />

advertisement for cellular technology. ‘Mo’ Vodaworld: Autumn.<br />

represented as negative or <strong>in</strong>consequential. In<br />

this case, Mo is neither human nor animal, but<br />

created through technology, operat<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> the<br />

realm <strong>of</strong> the cyborg. He is a metaphor for gobetween<br />

vis-à-vis consumer and what is be<strong>in</strong>g<br />

consumed. <strong>The</strong> actual animal - its appearance<br />

and nature – is, to a large extent, ignored. His<br />

attire, rem<strong>in</strong>iscent <strong>of</strong> the tourist and the safari,<br />

immediately places him on the opposite side <strong>of</strong><br />

the animal world with its connotations <strong>of</strong> the big,<br />

white hunter and trophies. With camera <strong>in</strong> hand<br />

and safari hat jaunt<strong>in</strong>gly pulled over his one eye,<br />

he seductively gazes at the viewer. This vaudeville<br />

aspect <strong>of</strong> his manipulated personality is further<br />

revealed by his animated actions <strong>in</strong> the TV<br />

adverts, namely to jive along <strong>in</strong> a downtown<br />

sett<strong>in</strong>g while be<strong>in</strong>g followed by a constantly<br />

<strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>g crowd <strong>of</strong> fans, rem<strong>in</strong>iscent <strong>of</strong> the Pied<br />

Piper and his mesmerised followers. Only <strong>in</strong> this<br />

case the rapid growth <strong>of</strong> the crowd and its<br />

<strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>g noise levels, exposes, as Canetti<br />

(1981:20) claims, the <strong>in</strong>herently destructive<br />

potential <strong>of</strong> the crowd, transform<strong>in</strong>g it <strong>in</strong>to a<br />

scene which is more frighten<strong>in</strong>g than enterta<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g.<br />

Neoteny is employed as a popular device<br />

<strong>in</strong> animal representation <strong>in</strong> the media. Neoteny<br />

refers to “a condition <strong>in</strong> which there is retention <strong>of</strong><br />

youthful characteristics <strong>in</strong> the adult form” (Baker<br />

57<br />

2001:181). This k<strong>in</strong>d <strong>of</strong> representation encourages<br />

sentimental adult response, thereby assur<strong>in</strong>g<br />

<strong>in</strong>volvement from the consumer. <strong>The</strong> neotenous<br />

character <strong>of</strong> Mo displaces the distanc<strong>in</strong>g effect<br />

<strong>of</strong> otherness as achieved through metaphor. His<br />

proximity to the familiar world <strong>of</strong> humans and their<br />

<strong>in</strong>terests, calls for a metonymic read<strong>in</strong>g. Be<strong>in</strong>g<br />

part <strong>of</strong> human society, his participatory<br />

relationship to the company’s credibility as a<br />

conserver <strong>of</strong> the environment and <strong>in</strong>digenous<br />

animals, as well as one <strong>of</strong> the fastest expand<strong>in</strong>g<br />

markets <strong>in</strong> Africa, is ensured.<br />

A second example: Investec refers to the<br />

actual - as opposed to the animated,<br />

technologically eng<strong>in</strong>eered - animal <strong>in</strong> its<br />

brand<strong>in</strong>g strategy. <strong>The</strong> Zebra is utilized as a liv<strong>in</strong>g<br />

icon <strong>of</strong> the company’s progressive vision for<br />

susta<strong>in</strong>ability, partnership and strength. At first<br />

glance it has probably been selected for its<br />

aesthetic appeal, geographical habitat and<br />

behavioural characteristics, but the sub-text spells<br />

a belief <strong>in</strong> an absolutist view <strong>of</strong> nature, which can<br />

be def<strong>in</strong>ed as one <strong>of</strong> plenitude, adaptability and<br />

survival. Selected features <strong>of</strong> the Impala are<br />

isolated, such as its adaptability, alertness and<br />

mutualism, <strong>in</strong> order to highlight and impress <strong>in</strong> a<br />

metonymic fashion the company’s image.<br />

But what is this image signify<strong>in</strong>g? Does it<br />

represent the organic liv<strong>in</strong>g substance with<strong>in</strong><br />

nature <strong>in</strong> opposition to culture, <strong>in</strong> the culturenature<br />

debate? Or can it be termed <strong>in</strong> Foucault’s<br />

words: “forms <strong>of</strong> animal visibility” (Mitchell<br />

2005:177) - real objects <strong>in</strong> the world, but which<br />

are also images and verbal expressions (Mitchell<br />

2005: 176). Could one therefore refer to it as a<br />

totem, a sign which occupies a strategic position<br />

at the nature-culture frontier? Totems can take on<br />

several forms: one <strong>of</strong> them be<strong>in</strong>g the animal<br />

itself. However, the image as such is always more<br />

sacred than what it represents (Mitchell 2005:<br />

178). In this case, not under imm<strong>in</strong>ent threat <strong>of</strong><br />

ext<strong>in</strong>ction as yet, but a successful commercial,<br />

corporate image, which hardly touches upon the<br />

existence <strong>of</strong> the actual animal.<br />

My last example: <strong>The</strong> Hollards brand<strong>in</strong>g<br />

strategy takes this notion <strong>of</strong> the animal as brand<br />

symbol <strong>in</strong>to the biocybernetic doma<strong>in</strong>. By<br />

comb<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g two diverse species –the horse and<br />

the cheetah that you can see here, as well as the<br />

image <strong>of</strong> the duiker buck jo<strong>in</strong>ed with the caracal I<br />

showed <strong>in</strong> my <strong>in</strong>troduction - the notion <strong>of</strong> the<br />

orig<strong>in</strong>al two animals is displaced. A sense is<br />

created that the modification is an improved<br />

version - rather than a weakened copy <strong>of</strong> the

Ivestec<br />

Here Tomorrow Investec<br />


Morrisjones & Company<br />

Unique Partnership, 2006 Morrisjones & Company<br />

orig<strong>in</strong>al. Digital manipulation ensures<br />

improvement and flawlessness.<br />

<strong>The</strong> representation <strong>of</strong> this newly<br />

constructed image, can also be <strong>in</strong>terpreted as<br />

provid<strong>in</strong>g a symptomatic example <strong>of</strong> “image<br />

anxiety” (Mitchel 2005:12) po<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g to an<br />

uncerta<strong>in</strong>ty regard<strong>in</strong>g the future – <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

possible ext<strong>in</strong>ction <strong>of</strong> species. Here, the potency<br />

<strong>of</strong> the cloned image becomes a central concern<br />

, because it exemplifies the uncerta<strong>in</strong>ty <strong>of</strong> the<br />

future while fulfill<strong>in</strong>g the dream <strong>of</strong> creat<strong>in</strong>g liv<strong>in</strong>g<br />

forms which lead to liv<strong>in</strong>g images - a viable<br />

simulacrum <strong>of</strong> a liv<strong>in</strong>g organism (Mitchel 2005:12-<br />

13).<br />

In conclusion, the representation <strong>of</strong> the<br />

animal is central to the history <strong>of</strong> animals –<br />

“because that history is fully shaped by human<br />

documents” (Fudge 2004).<strong>The</strong> repercussions <strong>of</strong><br />

this plethora <strong>of</strong> documentation, which <strong>in</strong>cludes<br />

design, are central also to ethical debate<br />

focus<strong>in</strong>g on the question <strong>of</strong> the animal. As<br />

Mitchell states (2005:178-179):<br />

59<br />

natural organisms are not just<br />

entities <strong>in</strong> themselves but a system<br />

<strong>of</strong> natural signs , liv<strong>in</strong>g images, a<br />

natural language <strong>of</strong> zoographia<br />

or ‘animal writ<strong>in</strong>g’ that, from<br />

ancient bestiaries to DNA and the<br />

new book <strong>of</strong> Life, cont<strong>in</strong>ually<br />

re<strong>in</strong>troduces religion – and<br />

animation - <strong>in</strong>to th<strong>in</strong>gs and their<br />

images.”<br />

Current Posthumanist discourse does <strong>in</strong>deed<br />

challenge the tenets <strong>of</strong> 500 years <strong>of</strong> Humanist<br />

th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g. Instead <strong>of</strong> adopt<strong>in</strong>g a position supportive<br />

<strong>of</strong> an idea that can be used to attempt to<br />

illustrate the evolutionary development <strong>of</strong> the<br />

animal as sign <strong>in</strong> design, I - by contrast - prefer<br />

the notion <strong>of</strong> a rhizomatous change as<br />

expounded by Deleuze and Guattari (2004:12) -<br />

stemm<strong>in</strong>g from a cultural matrix which embraces<br />

diversity, collaboration and multivocality <strong>in</strong> order<br />

to represent that which can never be adequately<br />


Bibliography<br />

Agamben, G. 2004. <strong>The</strong> Open: man and animal. Stanford<br />

University Press: Stanford.<br />

Baker, S. 2001. ‘<strong>Animals</strong>, representation and reality’. Society<br />

and animals. Volume 9: no. 3.<br />

Available;http//www.pyseta.org/sa/sa9.3/baker.shtml. [0].<br />

Baker, S. 2000. <strong>The</strong> Postmodern Animal. Reaktion Books:<br />

London.<br />

Baker, S. 2001. Pictur<strong>in</strong>g the Beast: animals, identity and<br />

representation. University <strong>of</strong> Ill<strong>in</strong>ois Press: Urbana.<br />

Benjam<strong>in</strong>, W. 1968. Illum<strong>in</strong>ations. Pimlico: London.<br />

Berger, J. 1980. About Look<strong>in</strong>g. V<strong>in</strong>tage Books: New York.<br />

Canetti, E. 1981. Crowds and Power. Pengu<strong>in</strong> Books:<br />

Harmondsworth.<br />

Clark, K. 1977. <strong>Animals</strong> and Men. William Morrow and<br />

Co:New York.<br />

Count<strong>in</strong>g the cost <strong>of</strong> preserv<strong>in</strong>g biodiversity. 2006.<strong>The</strong> Star 11<br />

May: 11.<br />

Darw<strong>in</strong>, C. 1859. <strong>The</strong> Orig<strong>in</strong> <strong>of</strong> Species. Signet Classic: New<br />

York.<br />

Deleuze, G. and Guattari, F. 2004. A Thousand Plateaus.<br />

Cont<strong>in</strong>uum: London.<br />

Foucault, M. 1970. <strong>The</strong> Order <strong>of</strong> Th<strong>in</strong>gs. Routledge: London,<br />

2004<br />

Ground, I. 2011. “Only <strong>in</strong> the application that a Liv<strong>in</strong>g Be<strong>in</strong>g<br />

makes”:Wittgenste<strong>in</strong> Signs and Animal<br />

M<strong>in</strong>ds.Tartu:Zoosemiotics conference.<br />

Grön<strong>in</strong>g, K. & Saller, M. 1999. Elephants: a cultural and<br />

natural history. Köneman: Cologne.<br />

Maclennan, B. 2003. <strong>The</strong> W<strong>in</strong>d Makes Dust: four centuries <strong>of</strong><br />

travel <strong>in</strong> southern Africa. Tafelberg: Cape Town.<br />

Mitchell, W.J.T. 2005. What do Pictures Want? University <strong>of</strong><br />

Chicago Press: Chicago.<br />

Morrisjones&company. 2006. Hollards Duiker, Hollards<br />

Horse:Johannesburg.<br />

Cover picture. 1994. National Geographic (186, no. 6),<br />

December.<br />

Nederveen Pieterse, J. 1992. White on Black: images <strong>of</strong><br />

Africa and Blacks <strong>in</strong> Western popular culture. Yale University<br />

Press: New Haven.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, v.1. 1973. Sv “evolution”<br />

and “<strong>in</strong>volution”. Oxford University Press: Oxford.<br />

Thompson, N. 2005. Becom<strong>in</strong>g Animal: contemporary art <strong>in</strong><br />

the animal k<strong>in</strong>gdom. Mass Moca: North Adams.<br />

White, M. & Cribb<strong>in</strong>, J. 1995. Darw<strong>in</strong>: a life <strong>in</strong> science. Simon<br />

& Schuster: London.<br />

60<br />

Sonja Britz is a pa<strong>in</strong>ter and writer born <strong>in</strong> Durban, South Africa . She<br />

studied pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g at the University <strong>of</strong> Natal, complet<strong>in</strong>g her MFA<br />

Between 1991 and 2009 she was based <strong>in</strong> Johannesburg, whilst also<br />

undertak<strong>in</strong>g artist’s residencies and exhibit<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> Europe. She is<br />

<strong>in</strong>terested <strong>in</strong> the socio-cultural aspects <strong>of</strong> animal representation and<br />

have explored subjects such as the predicament <strong>of</strong> the African wild<br />

dog and urban animals. She is represented <strong>in</strong> a variety <strong>of</strong> public<br />

and corporate collections <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g the World Wildlife Fund.<br />

In 2009 she moved to the UK and now lives on the coast<br />

<strong>of</strong> Cumbria. She has recently completed on an Arts Council England<br />

funded project, Companion Species: Portrait <strong>of</strong> a Community.<br />

Current <strong>in</strong>terests are animal portraiture and contemporary<br />


he same issue <strong>of</strong> the monthly magaz<strong>in</strong>e<br />

<strong>in</strong>cluded photographs <strong>of</strong> W<strong>in</strong>ston Churchill<br />

patt<strong>in</strong>g a Great Dane and <strong>of</strong> a Kerry Blue<br />

champion. <strong>The</strong>re were adverts <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g<br />

those for Hackbridge Kennels to which dogs<br />

could be evacuated for ‘the duration’, Spratts<br />

dog food ‘still carry<strong>in</strong>g on!’ and can<strong>in</strong>e gas masks<br />

and gas –pro<strong>of</strong> kennels. <strong>The</strong> editorial written at<br />

the height <strong>of</strong> the so-called Battle <strong>of</strong> Brita<strong>in</strong> was<br />

headed with the much-used epithet ‘We can take<br />

it’, endors<strong>in</strong>g the myth <strong>of</strong> a resilient Brita<strong>in</strong><br />

stand<strong>in</strong>g alone. [iii]<br />

This jocular advert is aimed at dog lovers.<br />

<strong>The</strong> cartoon bulldog, recognised as a specific<br />

breed by the Kennel Club from the 1870s, wears<br />

its regulation collar and acts symbolically for<br />

Brita<strong>in</strong> reassur<strong>in</strong>g the nervous puppy. As Steve<br />

Baker has argued ‘any understand<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> the<br />

animal is <strong>in</strong>separable from the knowledge <strong>of</strong> its<br />

cultural representation’: Brita<strong>in</strong> and bulldogs go<br />

together. [iv] T<br />

<strong>The</strong> dogs’ male gender is<br />



This advert comes from a British magaz<strong>in</strong>e <strong>The</strong> Tail Wagger, October 1940. <strong>The</strong> Tail- Waggers Club had been<br />

founded <strong>in</strong> 1928 to promote dog welfare stat<strong>in</strong>g, ‘<strong>The</strong> love <strong>of</strong> animals, and especially <strong>of</strong> dogs, is <strong>in</strong>herent <strong>in</strong> nearly<br />

all Britishers’ and by 1930 numbered some 300,000 members. [i] All dogs were eligible for membership, not just<br />

those from established breeds. By July 1930 it had become a general legal requirement that all dogs should wear<br />

collars and the club and magaz<strong>in</strong>e endorsed such measures. [ii]<br />

Text by Hilda Kean<br />

61<br />

emphasised by the language: ‘sir’ and ‘son’.<br />

However this particular ‘bulldog’ would not have<br />

been eligible for show s<strong>in</strong>ce he has no testicles-<br />

this absence is clearly displayed given the angle<br />

<strong>of</strong> the image. Despite his firm four-footed stance<br />

and iconic status this great British bulldog has no<br />

balls, rather like the depiction <strong>of</strong> the former<br />

deputy prime m<strong>in</strong>ister John Prescott <strong>in</strong> Steve<br />

Bell’s <strong>The</strong> Guardian cartoons. In the image <strong>of</strong> an<br />

emasculated bulldog ‘full <strong>of</strong> sound and fury and<br />

signify<strong>in</strong>g noth<strong>in</strong>g’ with collar but no balls -<br />

Prescott’s crucifixion on croquet mallets was a<br />

particular delight- I always knew I was read<strong>in</strong>g a<br />

stand-<strong>in</strong> for a bluster<strong>in</strong>g man. [v] But here the<br />

bulldog is not <strong>in</strong>tended to represent a particular<br />

human.<br />

<strong>The</strong> querulous compla<strong>in</strong>t <strong>of</strong> the puppy<br />

plays upon a war rumour. In 1940 measures were<br />

taken to regulate food for non-human animals. In<br />

Brita<strong>in</strong> a Waste <strong>of</strong> Food Order obliged animal<br />

keepers to act reasonably, while stress<strong>in</strong>g that

Adm<strong>in</strong><br />

Cooper Dog Products, <strong>The</strong> Tail-Wagger Magaz<strong>in</strong>e, 1940<br />

pets could still be fed. [vi] At a similar time there<br />

were (<strong>in</strong>accurate) reports that Hitler had ordered<br />

all dogs to be killed s<strong>in</strong>ce they were tak<strong>in</strong>g food<br />

from humans. [vii] However, there was a rumour<br />

62<br />

that German dogs were be<strong>in</strong>g killed because<br />

Germans allegedly liked eat<strong>in</strong>g dog meat. [viii] This<br />

rumour has been exposed as such.But I do not<br />

read this cartoon as a serious comment on

alleged Nazi dietary habits. <strong>The</strong> magaz<strong>in</strong>e<br />

conta<strong>in</strong>s a serious article critical <strong>of</strong> the fascists’<br />

utilitarian approaches to dogs and does not<br />

mention this rumour at all. <strong>The</strong> advert de-bunks<br />

the rumour by treat<strong>in</strong>g it jocularly - and we know<br />

that it is jocular s<strong>in</strong>ce the ‘dogs’ are not dogs but<br />

cartoon characters.<br />

<strong>The</strong> text also debunks the idea that<br />

animals were anxious because <strong>of</strong> bombardment<br />

– although some clearly were - [x] stat<strong>in</strong>g ‘Nervous<br />

dogs are usually the victims <strong>of</strong> wrong feed<strong>in</strong>g’.<br />

Importantly this problem (unlike bomb<strong>in</strong>g!) was<br />

soluble with Adm<strong>in</strong> vitam<strong>in</strong>s. An irony <strong>of</strong> the ad is<br />

that it is published <strong>in</strong> 1940 because <strong>of</strong> the war but<br />

the war itself (aside from the Nazi speech bubble)<br />

is not mentioned explicitly. Even potential meat<br />

shortages are only alluded to elliptically. <strong>The</strong><br />

puppy who is too young to know better ‘speaks’<br />

about the war but his comments are dismissed<br />

with a ‘stand firm’ message. While play<strong>in</strong>g to the<br />

Nazi-dog-eat<strong>in</strong>g story the advert simultaneously<br />

underm<strong>in</strong>es it. <strong>The</strong> young puppy has ‘got it<br />

wrong’. However it is surely the puppy who<br />

articulates human anxieties. <strong>The</strong> anxiety is<br />

responded to by another, older, dog. <strong>The</strong> human<br />

/puppy is be<strong>in</strong>g calmed by an older dog.<br />

Arguably the reader is expected rationally to<br />

identify with the older dog but emotionally with<br />

the puppy. (If Adm<strong>in</strong> powders were given to real<br />

dogs, it would apparently benefit the anxious dog<br />

as well as the human anxious about the dog.)<br />

Paul Wells has approached cartoon<br />

animals to suggest that they should be read as<br />

animal depictions: ‘… animation demonstrates<br />

an <strong>in</strong>tr<strong>in</strong>sic respect for animals, and rather than<br />

mak<strong>in</strong>g them safe through humor, it actually<br />

beg<strong>in</strong>s to articulate relevant narratives to support<br />

their cause’. [xi] We are not expected to take the<br />

advert seriously on one level s<strong>in</strong>ce it is juxtaposed<br />

with journalism about ‘real’ dogs: but we are also<br />

<strong>in</strong>tended to read the cultural representation <strong>of</strong><br />

the bulldog as a national icon.<br />

But my use <strong>of</strong> the word ‘we’ is <strong>in</strong>accurate<br />

and ahistorical. This was neither aimed at the<br />

twenty first century reader nor was the product for<br />

contemporary dogs. <strong>The</strong> product, the advert and<br />

the <strong>in</strong>tended reader were all rooted <strong>in</strong> the lived<br />

experience <strong>of</strong> war some 70 years ago. <strong>The</strong><br />

animal-human relationship (and its<br />

representation) was <strong>of</strong> a very particular time and<br />

this advert helps rem<strong>in</strong>d us <strong>of</strong> this.<br />

63<br />

References<br />

[i] <strong>The</strong> Tail-Waggers Club, Tailwaggers, nd 1931<br />

[ii] An Urgent and Important Notice for all Tail-Waggers and dog<br />

owners generally! Tailwaggers Club June 1930<br />

[iii] Angus Calder, <strong>The</strong> Myth <strong>of</strong> the Blitz, Pimlico,1991<br />

[iv] Steve Baker, Pictur<strong>in</strong>g the Beast, Manchester University Press,p.25<br />

[v] http://www.guardian.co.uk/slideshow/page/0,,1974790,00.html<br />

[vi] RSPCA, Annual Report, RSPCA,1940<br />

[vii] <strong>Animals</strong> Defender, NAVS, July 1940. <strong>The</strong> Home Office believed<br />

dogs were be<strong>in</strong>g killed to provide glycer<strong>in</strong>e and fertilisers. TNA:HO<br />

186 /1419<br />

[viii] Veter<strong>in</strong>ary Record, October 1940. Also <strong>The</strong> Times <strong>of</strong> 18<br />

November 1940<br />

[ix] Mieke Roescher <strong>The</strong> Nazis and their animals (unpublished paper).<br />

See too Maren Mohr<strong>in</strong>g, Cats and cities. ‘Hygienic helpers’: cats <strong>in</strong><br />

the cities <strong>of</strong> the ‘Third Reich’.<br />

library.panteion.gr:8080/dspace/bitstream/.../479/1/MMOHRING.pdf<br />

[x] Measures aga<strong>in</strong>st this, <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g medication or ear cover<strong>in</strong>g, were<br />

promoted by the RSPCA and National Can<strong>in</strong>e Defence League<br />

[xi] Paul Wells, <strong>The</strong> Animated Bestiary <strong>Animals</strong>, Cartoons, and<br />

<strong>Culture</strong>, Rutgers University Press, 2009, p.11<br />

Hilda Kean PhD, FRHistS is former Dean and Director <strong>of</strong> Public History<br />

at Rusk<strong>in</strong> College, Oxford and currently Adjunct Pr<strong>of</strong>essor at the<br />

Centre for Australian Public History at UTS, Sydney. She has published<br />

widely on cultural and public history and the position <strong>of</strong> non-human<br />

animals. Her numerous works on animals <strong>in</strong>clude Animal Rights.<br />

Social and Political Change <strong>in</strong> Brita<strong>in</strong> s<strong>in</strong>ce 1800 (Reaktion Books<br />

2000), chapters <strong>in</strong> several books (most recently <strong>in</strong> Lest we Forget ed<br />

Maggie Andrews 2011 and <strong>in</strong> <strong>Animals</strong> and War ed Ryan Hediger<br />

2013) and articles <strong>in</strong> Society and <strong>Animals</strong>, <strong>The</strong> London <strong>Journal</strong>,<br />

International <strong>Journal</strong> <strong>of</strong> Heritage Studies, Anthrozoos and History<br />

Workshop <strong>Journal</strong>. She serves as history editor for Society and<br />

<strong>Animals</strong> and on the advisory board for M<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>g <strong>Animals</strong> and the<br />

Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. She is currently research<strong>in</strong>g and<br />

writ<strong>in</strong>g about the animal – human relationship on the home front<br />

dur<strong>in</strong>g the Second World War. Her latest books are <strong>The</strong> Public History<br />

Reader (edited with Paul Mart<strong>in</strong>) Routledge 2013 and Public History<br />

and Heritage Today. People and their Pasts (edited with Paul Ashton)<br />

Palgrave 2013. http://hildakean.com/

64<br />


Brand representations proliferate reflexive identities <strong>of</strong> their producers and consumers. <strong>The</strong>se self-advertisements<br />

re<strong>in</strong>scribe commodified identities reproductively back onto the subjects and objects – the represented figures – <strong>of</strong><br />

consumption. In this paper I argue that the cooption <strong>of</strong> identity politics by mult<strong>in</strong>ational corporations like Stonyfield<br />

Farm, Inc. operates with<strong>in</strong> material and virtual doma<strong>in</strong>s that conceal fetishized processes <strong>of</strong> consumption. I<br />

redeploy Stonyfield’s representational vocabulary <strong>in</strong> look<strong>in</strong>g to uncover these processes as hidden ‘stones’ <strong>in</strong> a<br />

relational ‘field’ <strong>of</strong> embodied power. I beg<strong>in</strong> by review<strong>in</strong>g selected theoretical literature on material and virtual<br />

forms <strong>of</strong> identity, consumption and power. I then apply these perspectives to a recontextualized ‘stony field’, as<br />

figured through the work <strong>of</strong> artist Michael Mercil. I suggest that his project <strong>The</strong> Virtual Pasture (2009-11),<br />

considered <strong>in</strong> relation to Judith Butler’s re-read<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>of</strong> Foucault and Hegel, reconditions the proprietary terms <strong>of</strong><br />

Stonyfield’s cow fetish.<br />

Text by Kather<strong>in</strong>e Bennett<br />

Fig.1. Michael Mercil<br />

<strong>The</strong> Virtual Pasture, postcard, 2009 Michael Mercil

Fig.2.<br />

Stonyfield yogurt carton front center, photograph by author.<br />

“M<br />

y market<strong>in</strong>g spend is a round<strong>in</strong>g error<br />

[compared with competitors]," he<br />

says. "But you can go on Stonyfield's<br />

web site (YoTube), and watch cows chew<strong>in</strong>g their<br />

cud”.<br />

Gary Hirschberg, Stonyfield CEO (Re<strong>in</strong>gold, 2012)<br />

My Stonyfield yogurt carton depicts a pastoral<br />

landscape identified as Wayside Farm, Vermont<br />

(USA). <strong>The</strong> reproduced image wraps around a<br />

white plastic cyl<strong>in</strong>der. Its colors are polarized and<br />

focal depths multiplied. A golden light bathes the<br />

verdant pasture and graz<strong>in</strong>g cows <strong>in</strong> sharpest<br />

focus at the center. <strong>The</strong> curved plastic surface<br />

foregrounds the cows spatially and graphically.<br />

<strong>The</strong>y are the closest figures <strong>in</strong> the ‘field’ to me. A<br />

picturesque New England barn set <strong>in</strong> the forested<br />

edge some distance back echoes the modeled<br />

browns <strong>of</strong> their bodies. <strong>The</strong> words “Organic” and<br />

“Pla<strong>in</strong>” <strong>in</strong>trude <strong>in</strong>to the landscape’s middle ground<br />

and vertically frame the cows. <strong>The</strong> font is serifed<br />

and traditional but playful. Float<strong>in</strong>g above <strong>in</strong> a<br />

hazy sky, the more stylized torso and head <strong>of</strong> a<br />

cow peep w<strong>in</strong>somely between flat, primary yellow<br />

and blue banners for ‘’Stonyfield” and “Organic”.<br />

<strong>The</strong> same head reappears decapitated and<br />

vertically centered <strong>in</strong> a marg<strong>in</strong> left <strong>of</strong> the<br />

landscape, bear<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> its mouth an <strong>in</strong>vitation for<br />

“SF Rewards” – an <strong>in</strong>centive program for “our loyal<br />

yogurt eaters" [i]. Aligned above is the product<br />

bar code, and below are a list <strong>of</strong> bacterial<br />

cultures attributed to it, a stipulation to “KEEP<br />

REFRIGERATED” and two certifications: “Organic”<br />

and “Gluten-Free”. A standardized chart<br />

quantify<strong>in</strong>g “Nutrition Facts” bounds the image to<br />

the right. Text dom<strong>in</strong>ates the rear panel,<br />

present<strong>in</strong>g the corporation’s story and<br />

environmental ethic. A beam<strong>in</strong>g 'mother' is<br />

<strong>in</strong>corporated <strong>in</strong>to the border for a bacon salad<br />

recipe under the caption “Meg’s Recipe Box”. <strong>The</strong><br />

<strong>in</strong>gredient list is titled “Our Family Recipe”.<br />

65<br />

Stonyfield’s package reproduces the liv<strong>in</strong>g bodies<br />

<strong>of</strong> cows through multiple levels <strong>of</strong> abstraction as:<br />

representational figures <strong>in</strong> a pastoral landscape,<br />

the iconic brand <strong>of</strong> a multi-national corporation,<br />

a purchaser reward system, a codified market<br />

commodity, a matrix for bacterial life, a food<br />

product requir<strong>in</strong>g artificial temperature control, a<br />

regulated and certified object <strong>of</strong> consumption,<br />

numbered grams <strong>of</strong> nutrients and percentages <strong>of</strong><br />

“daily values” for an idealized diet, and an<br />

<strong>in</strong>gredient <strong>in</strong> a heteronormative ‘family meal’. In<br />

this article I question the representational terms<br />

and conditions <strong>of</strong> such abstractions. <strong>The</strong>ir<br />

idiomatic reformulations appear <strong>in</strong> pictures, words<br />

and numbers. <strong>The</strong>ir comm<strong>in</strong>gled figures produce<br />

reductions and multiplications <strong>of</strong> the bodies <strong>of</strong><br />

cows <strong>in</strong> relation to the bodies <strong>of</strong> people, and <strong>of</strong><br />

both <strong>in</strong> relation to their environments. Material<br />

bodies are both subjects and objects <strong>of</strong> the<br />

abstractions, reduced by them to caricatures,<br />

labels and calorie counts. <strong>The</strong>y are also<br />

multiplied, virtually, <strong>in</strong>to new identities and<br />

relations through entangled processes <strong>of</strong><br />

commodification and advertis<strong>in</strong>g. I question how<br />

these representations proliferate reflexive identities<br />

– self-advertisements – <strong>of</strong> their human<br />

producers/consumers, which are then <strong>in</strong>scribed<br />

back onto the cows, the people and their<br />

environments. How do these representations<br />

naturalize new identities and relations, which are<br />

recursively rendered through a market<strong>in</strong>g sp<strong>in</strong>cycle?<br />

My <strong>in</strong>quiry traces materialities and<br />

virtualities <strong>of</strong> its subjects: the cows <strong>in</strong> a stony field,<br />

the field and its stones (where are they?), and the<br />

presumed but unpictured human viewer.<br />

At issue are the material and virtual<br />

embodiments, cont<strong>in</strong>ually refigured, <strong>of</strong> animals<br />

(<strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g cows and people) and their<br />

environments. How can the frames <strong>of</strong><br />

representation be opened so that a mutuality<br />

is seen between these subjects/objects that are

Fig.3.<br />

Stonyfield yogurt carton left, right and back, photograph by author.<br />

cows, people, fields and stones? What I’m after is<br />

the responsiveness that Donna Haraway (2008)<br />

conditions <strong>in</strong> terms <strong>of</strong> “respecere”, draw<strong>in</strong>g on the<br />

Lat<strong>in</strong> ‘to look aga<strong>in</strong>’, but also “the act <strong>of</strong> respect”<br />

(19) with its comb<strong>in</strong>ed mean<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>of</strong> consideration,<br />

perception and look<strong>in</strong>g back [ii]. <strong>The</strong> Stonyfield<br />

cartoon-cow looks at me, but I am not seen to<br />

look back. <strong>The</strong> more privileged subject that is ‘I’<br />

sits swallow<strong>in</strong>g her yogurt outside the carton’s<br />

frame. But I am not alone. Who and what else is<br />

out here, beyond the frame, re-produc<strong>in</strong>g ‘my’<br />

relationship with the cows and ‘our’ environments?<br />

Can these ‘I’s be brought <strong>in</strong>to the frame to<br />

stretch, or bend (without necessarily break<strong>in</strong>g), the<br />

reiterative identities <strong>of</strong> the commodity cha<strong>in</strong>? For<br />

a Haraway-<strong>in</strong>spired response, I beg<strong>in</strong> with Julie<br />

Guthman’s chapter on “<strong>The</strong> ‘organic commodity’<br />

and other anomalies <strong>in</strong> the politics <strong>of</strong><br />

consumption” <strong>in</strong> Geographies <strong>of</strong> Commodity<br />

Cha<strong>in</strong>s (Hughes and Reimer, 2004), which takes<br />

me briefly back to Marx and Capital on the<br />

commodity fetish. From there, I turn to Judith<br />

Butler’s <strong>in</strong>vestigation through Foucault <strong>in</strong>to political<br />

economies <strong>of</strong> the body <strong>in</strong> her talk “Bodies and<br />

Power, Revisited” (2002). Butler leads me to a<br />

reconsideration <strong>of</strong> materiality and virtuality,<br />

exam<strong>in</strong>ed <strong>in</strong> relation to contemporary capitalism<br />

by James G. Carrier, Daniel Miller, Leslie Sklair and<br />

Nigel Thrift <strong>in</strong> Virtualism: A New Political<br />

Economy (Carrier and Miller, 1998). I then look to<br />

artist Michael Mercil, whose project <strong>The</strong> Virtual<br />

Pasture (2008-2011) re-forms the frame <strong>in</strong> a<br />

manner suggested by Butler <strong>in</strong> <strong>The</strong> Psychic Life <strong>of</strong><br />

Power (1997).<br />

66<br />

A cow fetish: What is represented?<br />

<strong>The</strong> multiply abstracted cow-commodity is<br />

impr<strong>in</strong>ted with domesticated standards <strong>of</strong> health.<br />

Its plastic conta<strong>in</strong>er fetishizes not only the “Smooth<br />

and Creamy” bodily substance with<strong>in</strong>, but also its<br />

representations <strong>of</strong> consumer and environmental<br />

protection, localized agricultural practices, and<br />

fair trade for small farmers. Guthman (2004, 234)<br />

writes <strong>of</strong> a politics <strong>of</strong> consumption that centers on<br />

eat<strong>in</strong>g as 'green', ethical and local. This politics<br />

implicates a Marxian commodity fetishism – that<br />

is, a concealment <strong>of</strong> the hierarchical relations<br />

productive <strong>of</strong> commodities. <strong>The</strong> mask<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong><br />

capitalist <strong>in</strong>terests beh<strong>in</strong>d organic certification<br />

ascribes to the commodity an <strong>in</strong>nate mystical<br />

“preciousness” (245). Yet its valuation and<br />

formation <strong>in</strong> a market-based system <strong>of</strong><br />

production belies its ethical representations.<br />

Guthman shows that the mult<strong>in</strong>ational market<br />

structure beh<strong>in</strong>d the organic label contradicts<br />

and <strong>in</strong> practice de-l<strong>in</strong>ks it from idioms <strong>of</strong> “smallscale,<br />

populist agrarianism” (240). Organic<br />

certification does not limit the scale or mechanics<br />

<strong>of</strong> production, does not <strong>in</strong>herently or effectively<br />

regionalize food systems, does not m<strong>in</strong>imize food<br />

process<strong>in</strong>g, and does not promulgate labor or<br />

localized trade standards. Rather, ‘Organic’ is now<br />

relegated to standards for production practices,<br />

and more specifically to ‘organic’ <strong>in</strong>puts,<br />

themselves <strong>in</strong>corporated <strong>in</strong>to an ‘organic’ market<br />

for fertilizers, pesticides, soil modifications, etc.<br />

(240-1). An <strong>in</strong>ternationalized <strong>in</strong>dustry, evolved

Fig. 4. & 5.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Miracle <strong>of</strong> Milk and Down to Earth, Stonyfield Farm, Inc, film still Stonyfield Farm Inc<br />


from <strong>in</strong>terstate agribus<strong>in</strong>ess, has appropriated the<br />

organic label. Stonyfield’s corporate genealogy<br />

[iii] exemplifies this tension between ethical<br />

standards and market standardization. Its<br />

expansion <strong>in</strong>to <strong>in</strong>ternational markets [iv], big box<br />

retail outlets, café cha<strong>in</strong>s [v] and an array <strong>of</strong><br />

processed "food products" asserts a capital<br />

growth model that dom<strong>in</strong>ates its localized picture<br />

<strong>of</strong> health for cows, people and their<br />

'environment'. Guthman reveals the underly<strong>in</strong>g<br />

paradox:<br />

[Organic label<strong>in</strong>g] fetishizes the<br />

process <strong>of</strong> social change itself, by<br />

suggest<strong>in</strong>g that purchas<strong>in</strong>g a<br />

commodity is sufficient to effect<br />

such change. If organic food was<br />

truly an antidote to processes <strong>of</strong><br />

commodification, the ‘organic<br />

commodity’ surely would be seen<br />

as an oxymoron. (245)<br />

What terms and conditions are operative <strong>in</strong> the<br />

capitalized field beh<strong>in</strong>d Stonyfield’s cow fetish?<br />

Marx, Guthman notes, writes <strong>of</strong> a veil<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong><br />

human-nature relations by exchange value and<br />

fetishism. He argues, "the objective appearance<br />

<strong>of</strong> the social characteristics <strong>of</strong> labour” (Marx,<br />

1990, 176) and its products obscures their social<br />

constitution. Marx dist<strong>in</strong>guishes the contradictory,<br />

“tw<strong>of</strong>old” form <strong>of</strong> the commodity, as both<br />

physical object <strong>of</strong> utility (possess<strong>in</strong>g use-value)<br />

and virtual depository <strong>of</strong> exchange-value.<br />

Conflation <strong>of</strong> the physical/natural object (e.g.<br />

yogurt) with its value form ($3.49) masks the<br />

socially dom<strong>in</strong>ant conditions <strong>of</strong> its production (by<br />

Stonyfield Farm, Incorporated). Marx exam<strong>in</strong>es<br />

the role <strong>of</strong> see<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> the mak<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> commodities:<br />

the products <strong>of</strong> labor become<br />

commodities, sensuous th<strong>in</strong>gs<br />

which are at the same time suprasensible<br />

or social. In the same way,<br />

the impression made by a th<strong>in</strong>g on<br />

the optic nerve is perceived not as<br />

a subjective excitation <strong>of</strong> that<br />

nerve but as the objective form <strong>of</strong><br />

a th<strong>in</strong>g outside the eye. In the act<br />

<strong>of</strong> see<strong>in</strong>g, <strong>of</strong> course, light is really<br />

transmitted from one th<strong>in</strong>g, the<br />

external object, to another th<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

the eye. It is a physical relation<br />

between th<strong>in</strong>gs. As aga<strong>in</strong>st this, the<br />

commodity-form, and the valuerelation<br />

<strong>of</strong> the products <strong>of</strong> labour<br />

with<strong>in</strong> which it appears, have<br />

68<br />

absolutely no connection with the<br />

physical nature <strong>of</strong> the commodity<br />

and the material relations aris<strong>in</strong>g<br />

out <strong>of</strong> this. It is noth<strong>in</strong>g but the<br />

def<strong>in</strong>ite social relation between<br />

men themselves which assumes<br />

here, for them, the fantastic form<br />

<strong>of</strong> a relation between th<strong>in</strong>gs. (165)<br />

Marx’s <strong>in</strong>sight might return us to the<br />

Enlightenment's rational-empirical divide, but for<br />

his recognition <strong>of</strong> the fetishized<br />

commodity’s tw<strong>of</strong>old configuration as<br />

object and exchange value, yogurt that is $3.49.<br />

He po<strong>in</strong>ts to the self-conta<strong>in</strong>ed <strong>in</strong>terdependence<br />

<strong>of</strong> its dual value form, and further the<br />

“antagonism… developed concurrently with<strong>in</strong><br />

that form itself” (160). Despite – and because <strong>of</strong> –<br />

this <strong>in</strong>herent self-contradiction, Stonyfield’s tw<strong>of</strong>old<br />

formation <strong>of</strong> ‘organic yogurt’ has led to a 20%<br />

annual growth rate and $360 million <strong>in</strong> sales <strong>in</strong><br />

2010 for it and mult<strong>in</strong>ational owner Groupe<br />

Danone (van Rensburg, 6-7).<br />

How does the commodity fetish refigure<br />

the bodies <strong>of</strong> cows and people? <strong>The</strong> bodies<br />

under question here are those <strong>of</strong> cows, people,<br />

and by extension their environments. <strong>The</strong> social<br />

processes at issue are those <strong>of</strong> capitalized food<br />

trade and the market<strong>in</strong>g practices <strong>of</strong><br />

Stonyfield. In “Bodies and Power, Revisited”<br />

(2002), Butler turns to another model <strong>in</strong> revisit<strong>in</strong>g<br />

Foucault’s Discipl<strong>in</strong>e and Punish. <strong>The</strong> model<br />

directly associates bodies and power as terms<br />

and conditions <strong>of</strong> each other. <strong>The</strong>y figure each<br />

other. Butler writes <strong>of</strong> a “constitutive paradox”<br />

embedded <strong>in</strong> recognition (17). This built-<strong>in</strong><br />

antagonism b<strong>in</strong>ds the body to social processes<br />

that delimit yet lend it the terms necessary to<br />

formulation as a viable subject <strong>in</strong> the world.<br />

Foucault exam<strong>in</strong>es “a certa<strong>in</strong> ambiguity between<br />

subjects and power” (14). He attaches ‘body’ to<br />

both prisoner and prison as material structures.<br />

<strong>The</strong> reiteration articulates his formulation <strong>of</strong> the<br />

body as not exclusively human, or s<strong>in</strong>gular. It is,<br />

also, social, tak<strong>in</strong>g form <strong>in</strong> the prison. <strong>The</strong> double<br />

reference abstracts at the same time that it rematerializes<br />

the term’s signification. It enables a<br />

representation that is tw<strong>of</strong>old <strong>in</strong> its materiality and<br />

virtuality. Both subjects, the prisoner and the<br />

prison, are quite material th<strong>in</strong>gs – as are the cow<br />

and the (stony) field, the consumer (‘I’) and the<br />

grocery store. But their materiality does not<br />

represent the full extent <strong>of</strong> their identities, which<br />

are constituted also through their relation with one<br />

another. Bodily imprisonment is one configuration<br />

<strong>of</strong> power relations. Capital is another. <strong>The</strong>

Fig. 6.<br />

Down to Earth, Stonyfield Farm, Inc, film still Stonyfield Farm Inc<br />

materiality <strong>of</strong> each subject is an active condition<br />

<strong>of</strong> the other, through which the power <strong>of</strong> identity is<br />

produced and cont<strong>in</strong>ually reproduced <strong>in</strong> a taut<br />

mutuality. Butler writes, cit<strong>in</strong>g Foucault:<br />

the very materiality <strong>of</strong> the prison<br />

has to be understood <strong>in</strong> terms <strong>of</strong> its<br />

strategic action upon and with the<br />

body: it is def<strong>in</strong>ed <strong>in</strong> relation to the<br />

body: '[the] very materiality [<strong>of</strong> the<br />

prison environment is] an<br />

<strong>in</strong>strument and vector [vecteur] <strong>of</strong><br />

power’ (Foucault, 30).<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>in</strong>stitutions <strong>of</strong> power (e.g. the market) and the<br />

body (e.g. the cow, the person, 'the environment',<br />

the field, the stone) each require the other for<br />

recognition. And recognition is essential to persist<br />

<strong>in</strong> the shared context <strong>of</strong> multiple subjects that is<br />

society. <strong>The</strong> body is the material condition <strong>of</strong> the<br />

social identity and its <strong>in</strong>stitution. It serves as the<br />

medium through which a “technology <strong>of</strong> power”<br />

(14) acts and activates, produces and<br />

69<br />

exchanges. <strong>The</strong> power technology that is capital<br />

fabricates and sells the product that is yogurt<br />

through the <strong>in</strong>stitution that is the<br />

market. Materiality can then be understood as<br />

itself tw<strong>of</strong>old, denot<strong>in</strong>g “the process by which one<br />

passes over <strong>in</strong>to the other (or <strong>in</strong>deed the process<br />

by which both ‘<strong>in</strong>stitution’ and ‘body’ come <strong>in</strong>to<br />

separate existence <strong>in</strong> and through this prior and<br />

condition<strong>in</strong>g divergence)” (15). So markets, cows,<br />

people, fields and stones are embodied and coproduced<br />

symbiotically. No one <strong>of</strong> these<br />

subjects, scaled <strong>in</strong>dividually or multiply by an<br />

<strong>in</strong>corporated genealogy, appears able to survive<br />

without the others. At least, we can’t see how<br />

with<strong>in</strong> the currently represented tableau,<br />

reproduced with<strong>in</strong> an exclusively capitalized<br />

frame.<br />

So what else may be out here, reproduc<strong>in</strong>g<br />

these relationships <strong>of</strong> bodies and<br />

power? Where are the stones <strong>in</strong> this field? Societal<br />

norms are heavily implicated <strong>in</strong> the terse<br />

antagonisms <strong>of</strong> bodies and power. <strong>The</strong>y operate<br />

to filter the communicable, hierarchical terms <strong>of</strong>

Fig. 7. Michael Mercil<br />

<strong>The</strong> Virtual Pasture, T-Shirts, 2009 Michael Mercil<br />

recognizable identity. <strong>The</strong>y name, for <strong>in</strong>stance,<br />

“Stonyfield”, “Wayside Farm”, "Vermont", and<br />

“Meg”. That which is non-normative is not<br />

recognizable and cannot be named or<br />

perceived. Yet Butler f<strong>in</strong>ds <strong>in</strong> the unrecognized an<br />

open<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> possibility through “critical distance”<br />

(19) from its constra<strong>in</strong>ts. This distance lies tell<strong>in</strong>gly,<br />

even promis<strong>in</strong>gly, with<strong>in</strong> the constra<strong>in</strong>ts and is not<br />

<strong>in</strong>dependent <strong>of</strong> them. Power can only have<br />

effect, and therefore can only exist, through<br />

impos<strong>in</strong>g “norms <strong>of</strong> recognizability” (17) on a<br />

subject. Still, the subject has to desire recognition<br />

<strong>in</strong> those <strong>in</strong>stitutionalized terms. S/he must attach<br />

to them, be named. Desire figures the precarity,<br />

but also the possibility, <strong>of</strong> the unrecognized<br />

subject(s), the cow(s), the person(s), the field(s)<br />

and/or the stone(s). <strong>The</strong> subject wish<strong>in</strong>g to move<br />

beyond the surveyed frames <strong>of</strong> identity opens<br />

his/her/its self to questions <strong>of</strong> what he/she/it might<br />

become. Desire animates possibility by<br />

exceed<strong>in</strong>g the norm while demand<strong>in</strong>g<br />

70<br />

recognition. Into a two-sided border between<br />

desire and recognition reaches “the limited<br />

freedom <strong>of</strong> not yet be<strong>in</strong>g false or true” (19). In<br />

relation to the stony problem at hand, Butler’s<br />

refiguration <strong>of</strong> possibility through the very process<br />

<strong>of</strong> desire that fixes – <strong>in</strong>stitutionalizes, markets – it,<br />

<strong>of</strong>fers the becom<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> other identities, other<br />

relations, other <strong>in</strong>terdependencies. Haraway, too,<br />

<strong>in</strong>vokes the futurity <strong>of</strong> becom<strong>in</strong>g, and adds a<br />

significant ‘with’: “Touch, regard, look<strong>in</strong>g back,<br />

becom<strong>in</strong>g with – all these make us responsible <strong>in</strong><br />

unpredictable ways for which worlds take shape”<br />

(36).<br />

Materialities and virtualities: How to<br />

become with?<br />

So how can those outside the frame re-enter it to<br />

embody additional figures <strong>of</strong> mutuality and<br />

produce new bodies <strong>of</strong> exchange? Can we<br />

name technologies <strong>of</strong> power that might resist

Fig. 8. Michael Mercil<br />

<strong>The</strong> Virtual Pasture, sheep with visitor, 2009-2011 Michael Mercil<br />

capital? A difficulty rema<strong>in</strong>s <strong>in</strong><br />

identification. Foucault writes <strong>in</strong> Discipl<strong>in</strong>e and<br />

Punish that “systems <strong>of</strong> punishment are<br />

to be situated <strong>in</strong> a certa<strong>in</strong> ‘political economy’ <strong>of</strong><br />

the body” (cited <strong>in</strong> Butler, 13). Carrier (1998) ties<br />

the political economy <strong>of</strong> consumer values to a<br />

concept <strong>of</strong> virtualism, “the attempt to make the<br />

world conform to an abstract model” (25) and<br />

idealized images <strong>of</strong> reality (5). Desire, abstraction,<br />

imag<strong>in</strong>ation and conformity are at the core <strong>of</strong><br />

virtualism’s practice. While it shapes abstracted<br />

systems <strong>of</strong> thought such as neo-classical<br />

economics, virtualism also permeates “daily life<br />

and practice”, as “practical abstraction” (25). I<br />

f<strong>in</strong>d Carrier’s ultimate “tale” problematic <strong>in</strong> its<br />

abnegation <strong>of</strong> “general social relationships like<br />

k<strong>in</strong>ship, gender and craft identity” (42). Such<br />

“nuances” give way to a static “dist<strong>in</strong>ctive logic<br />

that spr<strong>in</strong>gs from the calculations <strong>of</strong> commercial<br />

<strong>in</strong>stitutions <strong>in</strong> a competitive environment” (42). <strong>The</strong><br />

universal claim deriv<strong>in</strong>g from – or driv<strong>in</strong>g – his<br />

reductive argument, seconded by Miller, is I th<strong>in</strong>k<br />

precisely the problem. Dismiss<strong>in</strong>g agencies <strong>of</strong><br />

political economy explored productively by<br />

Foucault, Butler and many others can only<br />

71<br />

regenerate new forms <strong>of</strong> capitalism (19). Still, an<br />

<strong>in</strong>tegral logic <strong>of</strong> Carrier’s and Miller’s argument<br />

holds: Cont<strong>in</strong>ual virtualization <strong>of</strong> abstractions<br />

re<strong>in</strong>forces rather than resists their representational<br />

terms and conditions. Miller writes:<br />

my critique <strong>of</strong> postmodernists is not<br />

that they raise the spectre <strong>of</strong><br />

abstraction – a project that this<br />

essay clearly shares. Rather, it is<br />

that postmodernism is based <strong>in</strong><br />

large measure upon a misread<strong>in</strong>g<br />

<strong>of</strong> the experience <strong>of</strong> consumption,<br />

that theorists abstract <strong>in</strong> a way that<br />

re<strong>in</strong>forces abstraction as virtualism.<br />

<strong>The</strong>y replace consumption as<br />

human experience with the virtual<br />

figure <strong>of</strong> the postmodernist<br />

consumer. As such, they contribute<br />

to a consequence <strong>of</strong> economics<br />

and audit<strong>in</strong>g, a general<br />

experience <strong>of</strong> alienation from what<br />

is viewed as an abstract and<br />

distant world. (212)

Fig. 9. Michael Mercil<br />

<strong>The</strong> Virtual Pasture, detail with temporary signage, 2009, photo: Just<strong>in</strong> Brown Michael Mercil<br />

Sklair and Thrift <strong>in</strong> the same volume f<strong>in</strong>d that the<br />

practice <strong>of</strong> virtualism cloaks the practical<br />

identities <strong>of</strong> a f<strong>in</strong> de siècle bourgeoisie. Sklair l<strong>in</strong>ks<br />

“the transnational capitalist class (TCC)” to a<br />

global realm <strong>of</strong> regulatory bureaucrats<br />

“dom<strong>in</strong>ated by big bus<strong>in</strong>ess” (144). Thrift f<strong>in</strong>ds that<br />

the practice-oriented abstractions <strong>of</strong><br />

contemporary bus<strong>in</strong>ess lurk <strong>in</strong> a “reflexive<br />

capitalism” (170) seek<strong>in</strong>g generic operational<br />

tactics. Both Sklair and Thrift, as Carrier notes,<br />

suggest “a k<strong>in</strong>d <strong>of</strong> embeddness for the powerful,<br />

abstraction for the weak” (17). All four exam<strong>in</strong>e a<br />

cooption <strong>of</strong> Marxian formulations by mutual,<br />

transnational bus<strong>in</strong>ess and state <strong>in</strong>terests. <strong>The</strong>y<br />

presage Guthman’s deconstruction <strong>of</strong> organic<br />

trade and certification oriented to capital growth.<br />

But are these members <strong>of</strong> the elite academic<br />

class (which they critique) look<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> the right<br />

places for resistance to capitalism? For that<br />

matter, are they even look<strong>in</strong>g for resistance?<br />

Because if so, the glitterati world <strong>of</strong> the capitalist<br />

elite seems hardly the best place to start. I agree<br />

with Guthman that “preciousness is a dubious<br />

solution” (251). An acknowledged situation <strong>of</strong> their<br />

theoretical positions with<strong>in</strong> the capitalized<br />

academy, as Haraway recommended a<br />

72<br />

decade earlier (1988), would be illum<strong>in</strong>at<strong>in</strong>g. <strong>The</strong>ir<br />

stance outside the frame barely dents it.<br />

How do I refigure cows through consum<strong>in</strong>g<br />

their milk? My rout<strong>in</strong>e consumption <strong>of</strong> yogurt may<br />

be said to further virtualize the bodies <strong>of</strong><br />

Stonyfield’s cows. I say “further” because these<br />

cows are already abstracted. Stonyfield ceased<br />

to own cows early <strong>in</strong> its bus<strong>in</strong>ess life, contract<strong>in</strong>g<br />

milk from dairy farmers s<strong>in</strong>ce 1984<br />

(http://www.stonyfield.com/about-us/our-storynutshell/full-story,<br />

10-23-12). A reference to<br />

Baudrillard’s fourth phase <strong>of</strong> simulation and thirdorder<br />

simulacrum (1995) is easy here. But<br />

follow<strong>in</strong>g Carrier’s and Miller’s <strong>in</strong>sistence on<br />

“actual practice” as model, I brush reiterative<br />

simulation aside to look more <strong>in</strong>to the virtualized<br />

daily lives <strong>of</strong> the abstracted cows <strong>in</strong> Stonyfield’s<br />

landscape. Stonyfield.com/yotube, l<strong>in</strong>ks to videos<br />

<strong>of</strong> family farmers belong<strong>in</strong>g to the Organic Valley<br />

Family <strong>of</strong> Farmers/CROPP collaborative. <strong>The</strong>y<br />

portray commitment to the ethics <strong>of</strong> “populist<br />

agrarianism” that Guthman reframes, <strong>in</strong> particular<br />

the health <strong>of</strong> cows, people and their<br />

'environment' (as if there were only one). <strong>The</strong><br />

Organic Valley “family” extends to 1,687<br />

members across the United States (1,606),

Fig. 10. Michael Mercil<br />

<strong>The</strong> Virtual Pasture, site, 2009-11, photo: Just<strong>in</strong> Brown Michael Mercil<br />

Canada (61) and Australia<br />

(20) (http://www.farmers.coop/producerpools/cropp-producer-map/,<br />

10-23-12). Of these,<br />

1,411 are dairies, represent<strong>in</strong>g about 270 organic<br />

milk contracts for Stonyfield (Carper, 2010, 36).<br />

Notably, Organic Valley’s product l<strong>in</strong>e, limited <strong>in</strong><br />

its yogurt options to a “lowfat smoothie”<br />

dr<strong>in</strong>k (http://www.organicvalley.coop/products/yo<br />

gurt/, 10-23-12), competes m<strong>in</strong>imally with<br />

Stonyfield’s yogurt products [1]. CROPP, renamed<br />

from Coulee Region Organic Produce Pool<br />

to Cooperative Regions <strong>of</strong> Organic Producer<br />

Pools, opened stock options to non-members <strong>in</strong><br />

2004. Preferred shares valued at more than $75<br />

million dwarf the vot<strong>in</strong>g member shares total<strong>in</strong>g<br />

$42,175[2]. <strong>The</strong> Organic Valley label exports to at<br />

least twelve Asian countries, and plans to grow <strong>in</strong><br />

Ch<strong>in</strong>a (Carper 2010, 34, 36). No wonder CROPP<br />

advertises itself as “the nation's largest and most<br />

successful organic farmer<br />

cooperative” (http://www.farmers.coop/, 10-23-<br />

12).<br />

<strong>The</strong> National Organic Program’s<br />

regulations for Livestock Liv<strong>in</strong>g Conditions<br />

generally require accommodation <strong>of</strong> "the health<br />

and natural behavior <strong>of</strong> animals,” and stipulate<br />

73<br />

year-round access to the outdoors, to uncrowded<br />

space and to daily graz<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> season. Quality<br />

Assurance International (QAI), Inc., a private<br />

organic certification company authorized by the<br />

U. S. Department <strong>of</strong> Agriculture, certifies the<br />

compliance <strong>of</strong> Stonyfield yogurt with these<br />

regulations. QAI itself holds certifications outside<br />

the US <strong>in</strong> Europe, Canada and Japan, and from<br />

the International Organic Accreditation Service.<br />

QAI’s found<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> 1989 likely anticipated the 1990<br />

federal Organic Foods Production Act. Guthman<br />

po<strong>in</strong>ts out the trade-based orig<strong>in</strong>s <strong>of</strong> the national<br />

legislation, an evolution <strong>of</strong> the California Organic<br />

Foods Act. What is now the Organic Trade<br />

Association was founded <strong>in</strong> 1984 by certification<br />

agencies and larger-scale producers to def<strong>in</strong>e<br />

the organic label as primarily “a production<br />

standard for farmers (and later processors) rather<br />

than as a food safety standard for consumers”<br />

(239). She goes on:<br />

Certa<strong>in</strong>ly it did not represent an<br />

alternative system <strong>of</strong> food<br />

provision. <strong>The</strong> organic movement<br />

thereafter evolved <strong>in</strong>to a drive for

Fig. 11. Michael Mercil<br />

Michael Mercil with Shetland lamb at Stratford Ecological Center, Delaware, Ohio, 2010, photo: Matthew Keida Michael Mercil<br />

<strong>in</strong>stitutional legitimacy and<br />

regulation <strong>of</strong> the term ‘organically<br />

grown’ <strong>in</strong> the <strong>in</strong>terests <strong>of</strong> trade… So<br />

although codification arose from<br />

multiple <strong>in</strong>tentions, its greatest<br />

success was to open up markets.<br />

QAI, the third-party certify<strong>in</strong>g agency <strong>of</strong> Stonyfield,<br />

belongs to this capitalized <strong>in</strong>stitutional l<strong>in</strong>eage. Its<br />

identity lies with<strong>in</strong> the virtualized frame <strong>of</strong><br />

transnational capital propounded by Carrier,<br />

Miller, Sklair and Thrift.<br />

A virtual field<br />

“What, however, if human labor power turns out<br />

to be only part <strong>of</strong> the story <strong>of</strong> lively capital?”<br />

(Haraway, 46). I know Michael Mercil as an artist<br />

and pr<strong>of</strong>essor <strong>of</strong> art at the Ohio State University <strong>in</strong><br />

Columbus, Ohio where we both work. Mercil<br />

situates his practice with<strong>in</strong> the structure and history<br />

<strong>of</strong> the land grant university. A series <strong>of</strong> projects<br />

under his “locally focused forum”[3], <strong>The</strong> Liv<strong>in</strong>g<br />

<strong>Culture</strong> Initiative, materializes with<strong>in</strong> the academic<br />

<strong>in</strong>stitution the <strong>in</strong>stantiation <strong>of</strong> possibility that Butler<br />

proposes. Mercil’s <strong>in</strong>stallation <strong>The</strong> Beanfield (2006-<br />

08) refigured Thoreau’s 2.5 acre beanfield at<br />

Walden Pond. <strong>The</strong> project consisted <strong>of</strong> 49 bean<br />

74<br />

poles on a 500 square foot plot outside the<br />

university’s Wexner Center for the Arts. It entailed<br />

collaboration with the OSU College <strong>of</strong> Food,<br />

Agriculture and Environmental Sciences as well as<br />

the Wexner. In his notes for a 2011 talk, Mercil<br />

describes it as his cultivation <strong>of</strong> art as practice<br />

and as ‘work’, <strong>in</strong> its verb form:<br />

Thoreau’s work at Walden<br />

was Walden, or the becom<strong>in</strong>g<br />

<strong>of</strong> Walden through the<br />

liv<strong>in</strong>g/writ<strong>in</strong>g/work<strong>in</strong>g through <strong>of</strong> it.<br />

Thoreau went to Walden to<br />

naturalize himself (to configure his<br />

relation to nature) where he then<br />

planted a field <strong>of</strong> beans to<br />

socialize himself (to configure his<br />

relation to society). His work <strong>in</strong> the<br />

bean field was a work<strong>in</strong>g out <strong>of</strong><br />

conversation with neighbors and<br />

passers-by (advice given/advice<br />

ignored). Likewise, I planted <strong>The</strong><br />

Beanfield near the Wexner Center<br />

and along College Road to<br />

engage <strong>in</strong> conversation with the<br />

society <strong>of</strong> the university (advice<br />

given/advice ignored).

Fig. 12. Michael Mercil<br />

Michael Mercil, <strong>The</strong> Virtual Pasture, detail <strong>of</strong> Shetland ewe with LED monitor, photo: Matthew Keida Michael Mercil<br />

I asked Mercil at that talk about his use <strong>of</strong><br />

nostalgia <strong>in</strong> <strong>The</strong> Beanfield (2006-08), and <strong>in</strong> his<br />

next Liv<strong>in</strong>g <strong>Culture</strong> <strong>in</strong>stallation/plantation on the<br />

same plot, <strong>The</strong> Virtual Pasture (2009-11). <strong>The</strong><br />

latter, three-year ‘work’ <strong>in</strong>volved breed<strong>in</strong>g what<br />

became a flock <strong>of</strong> 16 sheep (from an <strong>in</strong>itial three)<br />

at the Stratford Ecological Center, an educational<br />

organic farm and nature preserve 25 miles north<br />

<strong>of</strong> campus. Mercil trucked several <strong>of</strong> his sheep to<br />

the fenced campus plot for monthly visits dur<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the school year, a recurr<strong>in</strong>g event advertised<br />

through a series <strong>of</strong> postcards. Artist and flock<br />

occupied their small 'field' outside the Wexner<br />

from 10 am to 3 pm on the "first Mondays". Mercil<br />

planted his field with livestock forage grasses,<br />

apple trees, and a large LED monitor. <strong>The</strong><br />

monitor's pixelated screen virtualized the sheep’s<br />

country home via cont<strong>in</strong>uous live video feed from<br />

Stratford.<br />

This discussion <strong>of</strong> the project draws mostly<br />

from Mercil’s written response to my question<br />

about nostalgia, a Haraway-style response, but<br />

also my on-go<strong>in</strong>g conversations and co-worker<br />

relation with the artist. Mercil beg<strong>in</strong>s with a set <strong>of</strong><br />

quotes from Leo Marx’s <strong>The</strong> Mach<strong>in</strong>e <strong>in</strong> the<br />

Garden (cited <strong>in</strong> Mercil notes, 2011, n.p.):<br />

75<br />

<strong>The</strong> s<strong>of</strong>t veil <strong>of</strong> nostalgia [for the<br />

pastoral] that hangs over our<br />

urbanized landscape is largely a<br />

vestige <strong>of</strong> the once dom<strong>in</strong>ant<br />

image <strong>of</strong> [America as] an<br />

undefiled green republic, a quiet<br />

land <strong>of</strong> forests, villages, and farms<br />

dedicated to the pursuit <strong>of</strong><br />

happ<strong>in</strong>ess. (6, Mercil’s annotations)<br />

[By design] most literary works<br />

called pastorals… qualify, or call<br />

<strong>in</strong>to question, or br<strong>in</strong>g irony to bear<br />

aga<strong>in</strong>st the illusion <strong>of</strong> peace and<br />

harmony <strong>in</strong> a green pasture. And it<br />

is this fact that will enable us,<br />

f<strong>in</strong>ally, to get at the difference<br />

between the complex and<br />

sentimental k<strong>in</strong>ds <strong>of</strong> pastoralism.<br />

(25, Mercil’s annotations)<br />

It is <strong>in</strong>dustrialization, represented by<br />

images <strong>of</strong> mach<strong>in</strong>e technology,<br />

that provides the counterforce <strong>in</strong><br />

the American archetype <strong>of</strong> the<br />

pastoral. (26)

Mercil goes on to write about his own work:<br />

<strong>The</strong> LED monitor <strong>in</strong> <strong>The</strong> Virtual<br />

Pasture acts as a counterforce to<br />

the rural nostalgia re/presented by<br />

the landscape <strong>of</strong> the central<br />

campus Oval (once an actual<br />

pasture, then re-eng<strong>in</strong>eered <strong>in</strong> the<br />

image <strong>of</strong> a pasture — without<br />

animals)<br />

From the Stratford Center (where<br />

the sheep are kept) to the Wexner<br />

Center (where the artwork is<br />

located), the image <strong>of</strong> the farm, its<br />

pasture and graz<strong>in</strong>g animals, is<br />

captured by remote camera,<br />

transferred by satellite, streamed<br />

through a computer network and<br />

viewed through the screen <strong>of</strong><br />

contemporary technology.<br />

In his notes, Mercil muses on the orig<strong>in</strong>s <strong>of</strong><br />

Cheerios <strong>in</strong> an unseen and disconnected oat<br />

field owned by General Mills Corporation. He<br />

considers a recent evolutionary theory on the role<br />

<strong>of</strong> cook<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> the development <strong>of</strong> the relatively<br />

large bra<strong>in</strong> and small stomachs <strong>of</strong> humans:<br />

Cooked food is more easily and<br />

quickly digested than raw food.<br />

Less energy needed by the<br />

stomach to digest = more time for<br />

the bra<strong>in</strong> to daydream. From this<br />

might we suggest that food =<br />

culture? At the table (or round the<br />

fire) lies the context for<br />

conversation = the context for<br />

chew<strong>in</strong>g over ideas (e.g. “Try this.<br />

You might like it.”).<br />

I am not speak<strong>in</strong>g here (though I<br />

could) <strong>of</strong> nutritional impacts, but<br />

rather I am speak<strong>in</strong>g about the<br />

cultural impacts <strong>of</strong> remov<strong>in</strong>g farm<br />

animals from our daily liv<strong>in</strong>g. With<br />

no contact with farm animals, how<br />

can we come to know them, or<br />

what can we know about them?<br />

Without contact with farm animals,<br />

what k<strong>in</strong>d <strong>of</strong> conversations can we<br />

have either with or about them? So<br />

now, if we speak about farm<br />

animals that we no longer see<br />

and, consequently, we no longer<br />

know, then when speak<strong>in</strong>g about<br />

76<br />

farm animals we, <strong>in</strong> fact, do not<br />

know what we are talk<strong>in</strong>g about.<br />

Yet <strong>of</strong> all animals it is with farm<br />

animals that we have an<br />

evolutionary covenant. We have<br />

co-evolved together. Farm animals<br />

are dependent upon us. We are<br />

dependent upon them—not only<br />

for food, but for our th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Virtual Pasture overlooked Ohio State’s<br />

traditional campus green, named <strong>The</strong> Oval. <strong>The</strong><br />

Boston-based Olmsted Brothers landscape<br />

architecture firm <strong>in</strong>tegrated the former farm field<br />

<strong>in</strong>to a master plan for the university <strong>in</strong> 1909. <strong>The</strong><br />

Oval's picturesque scenography <strong>in</strong>herits a<br />

pastoral ideology from the brothers' pater and<br />

Central Park's landscape architect, Frederick Law<br />

Olmsted. Mercil, represent<strong>in</strong>g <strong>The</strong> Mach<strong>in</strong>e <strong>in</strong> the<br />

Garden, references (Leo) Marx’s account <strong>of</strong> the<br />

pastoral’s elite history <strong>in</strong> 18 th century landscape<br />

pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

Return<strong>in</strong>g to Mercil's notes on the project:<br />

... this image <strong>of</strong> farm animals<br />

outside the Wexner Center is<br />

spectral. <strong>The</strong> Virtual Pasture haunts<br />

the Oval with images <strong>of</strong> animals<br />

that at one time actually grazed it.<br />

When, on the first Monday <strong>of</strong> each<br />

month, I br<strong>in</strong>g my sheep to<br />

campus to graze this 500 square<br />

foot patch <strong>of</strong> grass, it becomes a<br />

pasture <strong>in</strong> fact—and it is the Oval<br />

that rema<strong>in</strong>s a virtual image.<br />

To encounter (see) an animal’s<br />

image is not, however, to<br />

experience or to know the animal.<br />

To know a farm animal one must<br />

handle it. This is what farmers do.<br />

At <strong>The</strong> Virtual Pasture I do not <strong>of</strong>fer<br />

lessons <strong>in</strong> animal handl<strong>in</strong>g—even<br />

if, at times, it seems the entire<br />

university is my classroom there. Yet<br />

from encounter we build<br />

experience. By mak<strong>in</strong>g farm<br />

animals once aga<strong>in</strong> visible with<strong>in</strong><br />

our daily com<strong>in</strong>gs and go<strong>in</strong>gs, <strong>The</strong><br />

Virtual Pasture seeks to <strong>in</strong>form our<br />

th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g about them and our<br />

talk<strong>in</strong>g about them…<br />

With the rise <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>dustrial scaled

farm<strong>in</strong>g, the animals have<br />

disappeared from our sight. Is this<br />

a good or a bad th<strong>in</strong>g for the<br />

animals? Is this a good or bad<br />

th<strong>in</strong>g for us? Is that a stupid<br />

question? Might a better question<br />

be, whether or not rais<strong>in</strong>g animals<br />

<strong>in</strong> sheds is a necessary th<strong>in</strong>g to do?<br />

And, if so, what condition(s) make it<br />

necessary? While we may choose<br />

to raise farm animals <strong>in</strong> this way,<br />

must we choose to do so?<br />

Is to pasture raise a cow a<br />

(nostalgic) picture <strong>of</strong> farm<strong>in</strong>g, or is<br />

it a farm<strong>in</strong>g practice? <strong>The</strong> Ohio<br />

Dairy Association describes the<br />

pastur<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> cows as an<br />

“alternative farm management<br />

technique.” Alternative to what?<br />

Might we th<strong>in</strong>k about that? How<br />

might we talk about it? What, if<br />

anyth<strong>in</strong>g, might we do about it?<br />

Where do we f<strong>in</strong>d ourselves? And<br />

what is the nature <strong>of</strong> the culture we<br />

produce here now? I am an artist,<br />

not a farmer. <strong>The</strong> substance <strong>of</strong> my<br />

practice is to work from the<br />

tangible facts <strong>of</strong> my world toward<br />

a shap<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> my experience <strong>of</strong>/<strong>in</strong><br />

it.<br />

Mercil dismantled <strong>The</strong> Virtual Pasture and<br />

"dispersed" his flock <strong>in</strong> December 2011. <strong>The</strong> artist's<br />

upcom<strong>in</strong>g film Covenant extends the <strong>in</strong>stallation's<br />

central question <strong>in</strong>to the human encounter with<br />

farm animals. <strong>The</strong> release description reads:<br />

Covenant (42:35 m<strong>in</strong>utes) is a film<br />

about farm animals and us that<br />

narrates the fact and the way<br />

these animals become food. In it,<br />

farmers reflect upon the nature<br />

and economy <strong>of</strong> keep<strong>in</strong>g livestock,<br />

while call<strong>in</strong>g our attention to the<br />

rewards, anxieties and challenges<br />

<strong>of</strong> the human/farm animal bond.<br />

Antagonism and desire, retold<br />

If we had no appetite, we would<br />

be free from coercion, but<br />

because we are from the start<br />

given over to what is outside us,<br />

submitt<strong>in</strong>g to the terms which give<br />

77<br />

form to our existence, we are <strong>in</strong> this<br />

respect – and irreversibly –<br />

vulnerable to exploitation. (Butler,<br />

2002, 9)<br />

Guthman applies a concept <strong>of</strong> "aesthetic illusion"<br />

(F<strong>in</strong>e and Leopold, cited <strong>in</strong> Guthman, 236) to<br />

brand name. <strong>The</strong> concept addresses the<br />

<strong>in</strong>terpretive gap between a commodity's<br />

"(physical) use value" and its exchangeable<br />

"imputed use value" (236). <strong>The</strong> gap permits the<br />

<strong>in</strong>troduction <strong>of</strong> rent, a disparity between<br />

atta<strong>in</strong>able prices and actual production costs. A<br />

consumer culture that fetishizes the organic<br />

imag<strong>in</strong>ary enables the production <strong>of</strong> signs,<br />

“voluntary labels”, as a tactic for creat<strong>in</strong>g rents.<br />

Such signs, though, are “highly ambiguous”,<br />

subject to re<strong>in</strong>terpretation and redeployment.<br />

<strong>The</strong>ir openness to un<strong>in</strong>tended, socially re<strong>in</strong>scribed,<br />

values and desires suggests Foucault’s<br />

concept <strong>of</strong> proliferative power. Guthman po<strong>in</strong>ts<br />

to the classed, raced and regionalized<br />

economic disparities that produce rent and that<br />

rents re-produce. Butler, <strong>in</strong> her chapter “Stubborn<br />

Attachment, Bodily Subjection: Reread<strong>in</strong>g Hegel<br />

on the Unhappy Consciousness” (1997, 31 -62),<br />

<strong>in</strong>terrogates the reiterative and proliferative<br />

exchanges <strong>of</strong> power that produce disparity. Butler<br />

re-narrates Hegel’s “Lordship and Bondage”<br />

figures, the lord and the bondsman. Here, I <strong>in</strong>sert<br />

<strong>in</strong>to a retell<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> Butler's rewrit<strong>in</strong>g a parenthetical<br />

<strong>in</strong>scription relat<strong>in</strong>g to a stony field. I assume <strong>in</strong> this<br />

uncertified act <strong>of</strong> re-<strong>in</strong>scrib<strong>in</strong>g an artifice to which<br />

Butler might object. But I do this to posit another<br />

frame, wrapp<strong>in</strong>g around two figures, a person<br />

(named Lady Stonyfield) and a cow (named<br />

Cow), <strong>in</strong> a stony relational field (named<br />

Commodity).<br />

<strong>The</strong> lord (Lady Stonyfield) and the<br />

bondsman (Cow) are figures <strong>in</strong> a stony field<br />

(Commodity). <strong>The</strong>se two appear at first to be<br />

opposed and completely different. But the Two<br />

each co-figure the Other <strong>in</strong> a s<strong>in</strong>gular yet not<br />

static mutual <strong>in</strong>terdependence. <strong>The</strong> lord (Lady<br />

Stonyfield) depends on the bondsman's (Cow’s)<br />

body and products <strong>of</strong> labor (milk) for the material<br />

conditions (yogurt) <strong>of</strong> his (her) daily life (breakfast).<br />

Through this dependence, the lord (lady)<br />

produces the bondsman's (Cow’s) body, which he<br />

(she) subsumes <strong>in</strong>to his (her) own body. <strong>The</strong> lord<br />

(lady) thus consumes the bondsman's (Cow’s)<br />

labor and products <strong>of</strong> labor (milk and more<br />

cows). For this show <strong>of</strong> power ($360 million <strong>in</strong> sales<br />

<strong>in</strong> 2010) to work, the lord (Lady Stonyfield) must<br />

selectively ‘forget’ his (her) <strong>in</strong>volvement <strong>in</strong><br />

effect<strong>in</strong>g the bondsman's (Cow’s) body and

(food) products. He (she) must ‘disavow’ his (her)<br />

dependence on the bondsman’s (Cow’s) work. A<br />

paradoxical result is the lord’s (lady’s)<br />

disembodiment <strong>in</strong> assum<strong>in</strong>g the body <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Other, embody<strong>in</strong>g him (her) as bondsman (Cow)!<br />

<strong>The</strong> bondsman (Cow), too, must take part <strong>in</strong> the<br />

substitution (commodification) <strong>of</strong> his (her) body<br />

and products for the lord’s (lady’s) body and<br />

possessions (cartons <strong>of</strong> yogurt to sell for $3.49).<br />

<strong>The</strong> bondsman (Cow) must conspire, is allowed<br />

no choice but to conspire, <strong>in</strong> the concealment<br />

(Commodity) <strong>of</strong> that exchange<br />

(commodification). <strong>The</strong> bondsman’s (Cow’s)<br />

recognition or nonrecognition, consciousness or<br />

unconsciousness, <strong>of</strong> the conspiracy (Commodity)<br />

does not at first change that relational field. <strong>The</strong><br />

bondsman (Cow) is embodied (<strong>in</strong>corporated),<br />

without regard for his (her) response (look<strong>in</strong>g<br />

back), <strong>in</strong>to the duplicitous simulation <strong>of</strong> a<br />

substitution (Commodity). <strong>The</strong> bondsman (Cow) is<br />

conscripted <strong>in</strong>to the relational field on which he<br />

(she) depends for sustenance (grass) and value<br />

(exchangeability) by the lord (lady). Butler<br />

formulates the substitution (<strong>in</strong>corporation)<br />

rhetorically as: “you be my body for me, but do<br />

not let me know that the body you are is my<br />

body” (35). Still, the bondsman (Cow), bonded to<br />

the lord (Lady Stonyfield), cannot ultimately<br />

escape an unhappy consciousness (fear) <strong>of</strong> selfloss<br />

(death). This conscripted reflexivity occurs first<br />

when the bondsman (Cow) sees himself (herself),<br />

and his (her) own erasure <strong>in</strong> the course <strong>of</strong><br />

production. <strong>The</strong>se signs <strong>of</strong> self he (Cow) must<br />

submit, has no power but to submit, to the lord<br />

(Lady Stonyfield) and his (her) embodiment<br />

(<strong>in</strong>corporation) <strong>of</strong> possession<br />

(commodification). <strong>The</strong> submission <strong>of</strong> identity and<br />

agency refigures self as an expropriation and<br />

erasure. <strong>The</strong> bonded (cow) and bonder<br />

(Stonyfield) logically converge <strong>in</strong> a field <strong>of</strong><br />

disembodiment and “fearful transience” (39).<br />

Each is materialized and virtualized through a selfperpetuat<strong>in</strong>g<br />

process <strong>of</strong> consumption.<br />

My re<strong>in</strong>scription stops where the<br />

bondsman’s and cow’s stories diverge. Butler<br />

(Hegel) traces a sequential, reflexive exchange <strong>of</strong><br />

objectivity and subjectivity between the<br />

bondsman (human) and lord (same species).<br />

Each subject pursues a desire for permanence<br />

(life) represented by his (her) object (product) <strong>of</strong><br />

labor. <strong>The</strong> dom<strong>in</strong>ated human after many selfrepresent<strong>in</strong>g<br />

(self-advertis<strong>in</strong>g) acts <strong>of</strong> exchange is<br />

enabled to re-<strong>in</strong>scribe upon his/her self some,<br />

though not full, agency <strong>of</strong> identity. Through this<br />

work, the person concealed with<strong>in</strong> the frame <strong>of</strong><br />

78<br />

bondage is seen, and named. Butler (Hegel) f<strong>in</strong>ds<br />

desire – the suppressed desire that drives the<br />

bondsman’s work – to be operative <strong>in</strong> the<br />

possession <strong>of</strong> agency (40). But the cow,<br />

regardless <strong>of</strong> her desire, possesses no terms<br />

through which to enter the relational field. <strong>The</strong><br />

(<strong>in</strong>corporated) person(s) condition the<br />

representational terms <strong>of</strong> relation. For the cow to<br />

even appear to her (them) <strong>in</strong> that field, the<br />

person(s) must look back and see her. Butler f<strong>in</strong>ds<br />

that the socially proliferative process <strong>of</strong><br />

consumption destabilizes agency and identity <strong>in</strong><br />

human terms. <strong>The</strong> proliferation opens possibilities<br />

to resist erasure. It b<strong>in</strong>ds subject and object<br />

together <strong>in</strong> a recognized <strong>in</strong>terdependence. If<br />

Lady (people) and Cow (cows) are each seen as<br />

the <strong>in</strong>ternalized subject(s) <strong>of</strong> the Other(s) (ladycow),<br />

each can become the desired object <strong>of</strong><br />

the other. Both can become with.<br />

I see <strong>in</strong> Mercil’s acts <strong>of</strong> work a desire to<br />

know and to respond, respectfully, to the other<br />

animals that enable him to th<strong>in</strong>k and work, that<br />

take part <strong>in</strong> that th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g and work<strong>in</strong>g. His acts are<br />

epistemological and ontological, concerned with<br />

possible logics <strong>of</strong> know<strong>in</strong>g and be<strong>in</strong>g. In this work I<br />

f<strong>in</strong>d an openness to becom<strong>in</strong>g with that<br />

Guthman alludes to, but doesn’t get to, <strong>in</strong> the<br />

conclusion <strong>of</strong> her chapter – despite its critical<br />

open<strong>in</strong>gs. <strong>The</strong> chapters by Carrier, Miller, Sklair<br />

and Thrift on a reductive virtualism seem to<br />

foreclose more possibilities than they open.<br />

Butler’s work, <strong>in</strong> contrast and resistance to that<br />

closure, represents new possibilities. I credit it <strong>in</strong><br />

do<strong>in</strong>g so with mak<strong>in</strong>g possible. Mercil’s<br />

<strong>in</strong>stallations and his words, like Butler’s repr<strong>in</strong>ted<br />

here, co-figure bodies and power. Mercil, unlike<br />

Stonyfield, physically and daily works with animals,<br />

<strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g sheep, chickens, cows and people,<br />

and their grassy and stony fields. An exchange <strong>of</strong><br />

subjectivity and objectivity takes place <strong>in</strong> the<br />

work’s refiguration <strong>of</strong> bodies and environments<br />

and their co-scripted relations <strong>of</strong> power. I suggest<br />

that the possibilities Mercil’s work <strong>in</strong>stantiates<br />

emerge through its materiality <strong>in</strong> cooperation<br />

with its virtuality. I reiterate here Butler’s<br />

and Marx’s materiality as tw<strong>of</strong>old, and Haraway’s<br />

“becom<strong>in</strong>g with” as “c<strong>of</strong>lourish<strong>in</strong>g” (41). <strong>The</strong>se<br />

shared materialities and flourish<strong>in</strong>gs can, should,<br />

be manifold. But only two must be seen to start<br />

the co-productive reflexivity that Butler and<br />

Haraway name. As both demonstrate, and as we<br />

already knew, death and fear recur. Some stones<br />

rema<strong>in</strong> hidden. But hid<strong>in</strong>g can be constructive or<br />

destructive <strong>in</strong>terdependent with situation. And<br />

death need not be an erasure, like the

<strong>in</strong>corporated subsumption <strong>of</strong> Stonyfield’s cow<br />

fetish.<br />

Notes<br />

1 Stonyfield does have a l<strong>in</strong>e <strong>of</strong> organic yogurt smoothies.<br />

2 In 2011, the first series was valued at $25,137,147, and the latest,<br />

clos<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> 2010, $45,612,958. (CROPP Audited F<strong>in</strong>ancial Statement<br />

2011, http://www.organicvalley.coop/about-us/<strong>in</strong>vest/stockprospectus/<br />

10-23-12).<br />

3 http://www.michaelmercil.com/liv<strong>in</strong>gculture.html<br />

References<br />

i myStonyfieldRewards.com (15 Oct 2012)<br />

ii I refer to Haraway’s usage <strong>of</strong> “to respond” <strong>in</strong> her critique <strong>of</strong> Derrida’s<br />

lecture “And Say the Animal Responded” (cited <strong>in</strong> Haraway, 2007).<br />

iii <strong>The</strong> French food conglomerate Groupe Danone holds an 85%<br />

stake <strong>in</strong> the US Stonyfield Farm, Inc. (van Rensburg)<br />

iv e.g. Groupe Danone owns 80% <strong>of</strong> Stonyfield Europe. <strong>The</strong> other<br />

20% <strong>of</strong> Stonyfield Europe is held by U.S. Stonyfield Farm, Inc. (Dairy<br />

Industries International, 11)<br />

v “Stonyfield CEO founder open<strong>in</strong>g NYC organic, natural food cafe<br />

concept” (Susta<strong>in</strong>able Food News)<br />

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Baudrillard, Jean. Simulacra and Simulation (<strong>The</strong> Body, <strong>in</strong> <strong>The</strong>ory:<br />

Histories <strong>of</strong> Cultural Materialism). Trans. Sheila Faria Glaser. University<br />

<strong>of</strong> Michigan Press. 1995.<br />

Butler, Judith. "Bodies and power, revisited". Radical Philosophy 114<br />

(2002). 13-19.<br />

Butler, Judith. <strong>The</strong> Psychic Life <strong>of</strong> Power. Stanford University Press.<br />

1997.<br />

Carper, Jim. "Organic Valley Grows Naturally". Dairy Foods 111:12<br />

(2010). 32-37.<br />

Carrier, James G. “Introduction” and “Abstraction <strong>in</strong> Western<br />

Economic Practice”. Ed. Carrier, James G. and Miller, Daniel.<br />

Virtualism: A New Political Economy. Berg. 1998.<br />

Guthman, Julie. “<strong>The</strong> ‘organic commodity’ and other anomalies <strong>in</strong><br />

the politics <strong>of</strong> consumption”. Ed. Alex Hughes and Suzanne Reimer.<br />

Routledge. 2004.<br />

Haraway, Donna. When Species Meet (Posthumanities). University <strong>of</strong><br />

M<strong>in</strong>nesota Press. 2007.<br />

Haraway, Donna. "Situated Knowledges: <strong>The</strong> Science Question <strong>in</strong><br />

Fem<strong>in</strong>ism and the Privilege <strong>of</strong> Partial Perspective". Fem<strong>in</strong>ist Studies<br />

14:3, Fall (1988).<br />

Marx, Karl. Capital Volume I: A Critique <strong>of</strong> Political Economy. Pengu<strong>in</strong><br />

Classics. 1992.<br />

Marx, Leo. <strong>The</strong> Mach<strong>in</strong>e <strong>in</strong> the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral<br />

Ideal <strong>in</strong> America. Oxford University Press. 1967.<br />

Mercil, Michael. "<strong>The</strong> Liv<strong>in</strong>g <strong>Culture</strong> Initiative".<br />

http://www.michaelmercil.com/liv<strong>in</strong>gculture.html (30 Oct, 2012).<br />

79<br />

Miller, Daniel. “Conclusion: A <strong>The</strong>ory <strong>of</strong> Virtualism”. Ed. Carrier, James<br />

G. and Miller, Daniel. Virtualism: A New Political Economy. Berg.<br />

1998.<br />

Re<strong>in</strong>gold, Jennifer. “How to sell susta<strong>in</strong>able foods to the Wal-Mart<br />

shopper”. CNN Money.<br />

http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2012/04/17/boundaries-susta<strong>in</strong>ability/<br />

(24 Oct, 2012).<br />

Sklair, Leslie. “<strong>The</strong> Transnational Capitalist Class”. Ed. Carrier, James<br />

G. and Miller, Daniel. Virtualism: A New Political Economy. Berg.<br />

1998.<br />

“Stonyfield CEO founder open<strong>in</strong>g NYC organic, natural food cafe<br />

concept” Susta<strong>in</strong>able Food News (2012)<br />

http://susta<strong>in</strong>ablefoodnews.com/story.php?news_id=15988 (26 Oct,<br />

2012)<br />

"Stonyfield Comes to Europe, Buys Glenisk". Dairy Industries<br />

International 71 (2006).<br />

Thrift, Nigel. “Virtual Capitalism: <strong>The</strong> Globalisation <strong>of</strong> Reflexive Bus<strong>in</strong>ess<br />

Knowledge”. Ed. Carrier, James G. and Miller, Daniel. Virtualism: A<br />

New Political Economy. Berg. 1998.<br />

van Rensburg, Deryck J. "Strategic brand ventur<strong>in</strong>g: the corporation<br />

as entrepreneur", <strong>Journal</strong> <strong>of</strong> Bus<strong>in</strong>ess Strategy 33:3 (2012). 4 – 12.<br />

Kather<strong>in</strong>e Bennett is an assistant pr<strong>of</strong>essor <strong>in</strong> the Landscape<br />

Architecture Section, Knowlton School <strong>of</strong> Architecture at <strong>The</strong> Ohio<br />

State University (OSU), where she teaches design studios,<br />

representation workshops and research sem<strong>in</strong>ars that <strong>in</strong>vestigate<br />

<strong>in</strong>terspecies habitat. She is a registered landscape architect and has<br />

practiced <strong>in</strong> Boston, New York, Cape Cod, Savannah, San<br />

Francisco, Seoul and Hanoi – the latter while a Visit<strong>in</strong>g Pr<strong>of</strong>essor <strong>of</strong><br />

Landscape Architecture at the University <strong>of</strong> Seoul. Her degrees <strong>in</strong><br />

Landscape Architecture and Pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g are from the Graduate School<br />

<strong>of</strong> Design at Harvard University (MLA) and <strong>The</strong> University <strong>of</strong> Georgia<br />

(BFA). Kather<strong>in</strong>e has begun research toward a PhD <strong>in</strong> the<br />

Department <strong>of</strong> Geography at OSU, <strong>in</strong>tegrat<strong>in</strong>g her collaborative<br />

research with agroecologists, anthropologists, artists and architects <strong>in</strong><br />

the US and Asia.

M<br />

onkey Brand Soap, Brooke’s boasted,<br />

‘cleans, scours, scrubs, polishes [and]<br />

brightens everyth<strong>in</strong>g’, with one notable<br />

exception. <strong>The</strong> catchphrase ‘won’t wash clothes’<br />

features <strong>in</strong> the majority <strong>of</strong> the series (here pr<strong>in</strong>ted<br />

on the stair carpet), <strong>of</strong>fer<strong>in</strong>g a guarantee <strong>of</strong> the<br />

otherwise illimitable scope <strong>of</strong> Brooke’s hygienic<br />

pledge. One strik<strong>in</strong>g image demonstrates the<br />

soap’s extensive powers by pos<strong>in</strong>g the monkey<br />

gaz<strong>in</strong>g with an air <strong>of</strong> self-satisfaction at his own<br />

likeness <strong>in</strong> a fry<strong>in</strong>g pan’s sparkl<strong>in</strong>g base, his face<br />

altered miraculously from black to white,<br />

accompanied by the explanatory note, ‘For<br />

Happy BRIGHT reflection, MONKEY BRAND is just<br />

perfection’. Significantly, the fry<strong>in</strong>g pan generally<br />

features somewhere <strong>in</strong> Brooke’s simian mise-enscène,<br />

although it sometimes takes a second<br />

look to f<strong>in</strong>d it; as if, fasc<strong>in</strong>ated by his own protean<br />

form, the monkey wishes to always keep to hand<br />

the possibility <strong>of</strong> sneak<strong>in</strong>g a glimpse at his new<br />

body, rem<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>g himself <strong>of</strong> his transfigured sk<strong>in</strong> <strong>in</strong><br />

the gleam<strong>in</strong>g world Brooke’s promises.<br />

Brooke’s monkey is, <strong>of</strong> course, very much<br />



Brooke’s Monkey Brand Soap was a common, even iconic, presence <strong>in</strong> the pages <strong>of</strong> late n<strong>in</strong>eteenth-century<br />

illustrated newspapers <strong>in</strong> Brita<strong>in</strong>. Barely an issue <strong>of</strong> the London Illustrated News, <strong>The</strong> Graphic or <strong>The</strong><br />

Sketch passed without a full or half page spread <strong>of</strong> Brooke’s ubiquitous monkey, arrayed <strong>in</strong> one <strong>of</strong> its many<br />

baffl<strong>in</strong>g guises: promenad<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> top hat and tails, juggl<strong>in</strong>g cook<strong>in</strong>g pots <strong>in</strong> a jester’s get-up, strumm<strong>in</strong>g a mandol<strong>in</strong><br />

on the moon, destitute and begg<strong>in</strong>g by the side <strong>of</strong> the road, kneel<strong>in</strong>g to accept a medal from a glamorous<br />

Frenchwoman, career<strong>in</strong>g along on a bicycle with feet on the handle-bars, cl<strong>in</strong>g<strong>in</strong>g precariously to a ship’s mast,<br />

carefully polish<strong>in</strong>g the family ch<strong>in</strong>a and here <strong>in</strong> 1891, slid<strong>in</strong>g gleefully down the banisters with legs spread wide<br />

and the h<strong>in</strong>t <strong>of</strong> a smile while two neat Victorian children watch calmly on. [i]<br />

Text by John Miller<br />

80<br />

a political animal. <strong>The</strong> ‘new imperialism’ <strong>of</strong> the<br />

1890s saw an <strong>in</strong>tensification <strong>of</strong> British expansionist<br />

energy that gave consistent emphasis to the<br />

importance <strong>of</strong> commerce. Empire provided both<br />

an abundant source <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>dustrial raw materials<br />

and potential new markets for manufactured<br />

commodities. Reflect<strong>in</strong>g and support<strong>in</strong>g this<br />

national endeavour were various forms <strong>of</strong> popular<br />

imperialism. Images <strong>of</strong> empire were voraciously<br />

consumed <strong>in</strong> music halls and theatres, <strong>in</strong> copious<br />

works <strong>of</strong> travel writ<strong>in</strong>g and adventure fiction,<br />

ensur<strong>in</strong>g that the idea <strong>of</strong> Brita<strong>in</strong>’s civiliz<strong>in</strong>g mission<br />

became part <strong>of</strong> the fabric <strong>of</strong> cultural life. British<br />

<strong>in</strong>terests <strong>in</strong> Africa were particularly prom<strong>in</strong>ent <strong>in</strong><br />

the media at the f<strong>in</strong>-de-siècle. H. M. Stanley’s<br />

1890 In Darkest Africa, Lord Kitchener’s successful<br />

campaign <strong>in</strong> the Sudan <strong>in</strong> 1898 and the start <strong>of</strong><br />

the Second Boer War <strong>in</strong> 1899 were among the<br />

notably newsworthy events that were grist to the<br />

mill <strong>of</strong> writers, artists and illustrators. Hardly<br />

surpris<strong>in</strong>gly, therefore, Africa is a recurr<strong>in</strong>g theme<br />

<strong>in</strong> Victorian ad pages. Bovril, Eno’s Salts and<br />

Gu<strong>in</strong>ea Gold Cigarettes were among numerous

Brooke’s Soap Monkey Brand<br />

Wont Wash Clothes , 1910 Lever Brothers<br />


companies that forged a market<strong>in</strong>g strategy <strong>in</strong><br />

relation to the myth <strong>of</strong> the Dark Cont<strong>in</strong>ent with its<br />

familiar ideological pattern <strong>of</strong> savagery and<br />

bestiality <strong>in</strong>vit<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> the ‘enlighten<strong>in</strong>g’ <strong>in</strong>fluence <strong>of</strong><br />

British rule. Brooke’s monkey is part <strong>of</strong> this history.<br />

As our most proximate and troubl<strong>in</strong>g animal<br />

relatives, monkeys have long evoked questions <strong>of</strong><br />

human orig<strong>in</strong>s and identity; concerns which, <strong>in</strong><br />

the context <strong>of</strong> imperialism, frequently return to<br />

ideas <strong>of</strong> race. Victorian soap advertis<strong>in</strong>g drew<br />

consistently on an association between otherness<br />

and filth: <strong>in</strong> the logic <strong>of</strong> imperialism, the<br />

animalized African, or the Africanized animal, was<br />

a lamentably unsanitary creature. Anne<br />

McL<strong>in</strong>tock’s important study Imperial Leather,<br />

which explores, among other th<strong>in</strong>gs, the central<br />

connection <strong>of</strong> ‘commodity racism and imperial<br />

advertis<strong>in</strong>g’, provides a compell<strong>in</strong>g analysis <strong>of</strong> the<br />

way that ‘soap-mak<strong>in</strong>g became the emblem <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>in</strong>dustrial progress’, as ‘soap was <strong>in</strong>vested with<br />

magical, fetish powers’. [ii] Brita<strong>in</strong>, the argument<br />

ran, was br<strong>in</strong>g<strong>in</strong>g the world cleanl<strong>in</strong>ess, wash<strong>in</strong>g<br />

away degeneracy and backwardness. Dirt was<br />

an evolutionary issue. Consequently, Brooke’s<br />

monkey is a truly global animal, illustrat<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

terrestrial scope <strong>of</strong> imperial ambition, even <strong>in</strong> one<br />

<strong>in</strong>carnation skipp<strong>in</strong>g around a t<strong>in</strong>y Earth, with his<br />

trademark fry<strong>in</strong>g pan <strong>in</strong> paw, a citoyen du<br />

monde, herald<strong>in</strong>g a worldwide regimen <strong>of</strong><br />

spotless civilization. He is, the byl<strong>in</strong>e runs, ‘the<br />

world’s polisher’; himself a reformed subject <strong>of</strong><br />

imperial capitalism, lifted from his beastly state to<br />

the appearance <strong>of</strong> a man.<br />

Above all, the moral <strong>of</strong> Brooke’s Monkey<br />

Brand is a message <strong>of</strong> order. ‘<strong>The</strong> poetics <strong>of</strong><br />

cleanl<strong>in</strong>ess’, McL<strong>in</strong>tock writes, ‘is a poetics <strong>of</strong><br />

social discipl<strong>in</strong>e’, [iii] recruit<strong>in</strong>g us all <strong>in</strong>to rituals <strong>of</strong><br />

work, consumption and aspiration, redolent with a<br />

larger philosophical proposition. This is what it<br />

means to be human. At first glance, there is a<br />

certa<strong>in</strong> perilousness about the monkey on the<br />

stairs. <strong>The</strong> blond girl’s arm holds back her<br />

younger, dark-haired companion, but their faces<br />

betray no fear. Rather, they are mak<strong>in</strong>g space for<br />

the spectacle <strong>of</strong> the monkey’s chaotic nature<br />

reconfigured as fun, at worst a case <strong>of</strong><br />

schoolboyish high spirits. If there is a touch <strong>of</strong><br />

weep<strong>in</strong>ess about the big-eyed brunette, there is<br />

an assurance <strong>in</strong> the older girl’s poise that keeps<br />

the tears at bay. Very little literal connection to the<br />

product’s functionality is apparent <strong>in</strong> the<br />

exhilaration <strong>of</strong> the monkey’s descent, unless<br />

perhaps <strong>in</strong> the polished smoothness <strong>of</strong> the<br />

surface that allows him to glide so effortlessly to<br />

the floor. Indeed, the concealment <strong>of</strong> work is a<br />

characteristic trope <strong>of</strong> the Monkey Brand<br />

82<br />

campaign, except occasionally when the<br />

monkey himself is displayed as a labour<strong>in</strong>g<br />

subject <strong>in</strong> images that add social class to race as<br />

another category <strong>of</strong> the animal <strong>in</strong> human form.<br />

As such, Brooke’s <strong>of</strong>fers both an <strong>in</strong>ducement to<br />

and an erasure <strong>of</strong> toil. So, despite the advert’s<br />

<strong>in</strong>sistence on Monkey Brand’s clean<strong>in</strong>g, scour<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

scrubb<strong>in</strong>g utility, what matters most is not the<br />

substance or effect <strong>of</strong> the soap, but the glitter<strong>in</strong>g<br />

ideal it encapsulates: a domestic utopia that<br />

derives its political force from its relationship with<br />

the Earth’s remote, dark places. Beh<strong>in</strong>d the<br />

monkey a pot plant’s spread<strong>in</strong>g foliage gestures<br />

towards a distant jungle habitat. As he zips down<br />

and away from this h<strong>in</strong>t <strong>of</strong> his past, fly<strong>in</strong>g by the<br />

seat <strong>of</strong> his tailored pants, precarious but<br />

ultimately secure <strong>in</strong> his new environment, the<br />

monkey represents the triumph <strong>of</strong><br />

empire, realised <strong>in</strong> the urbanity <strong>of</strong> the middle<br />

class home that safely conta<strong>in</strong>s him. In the<br />

deeply conservative Victorian attitudes he<br />

announces, Brooke’s anthropomorphic monkey<br />

rem<strong>in</strong>ds us <strong>of</strong> the discomfort<strong>in</strong>g ideological uses<br />

non-human primates have long been put to <strong>in</strong><br />

the semiotic repertoire <strong>of</strong> capitalist modernity.<br />

References<br />

[i] London Illustrated News, October 3, 1891, p. 453<br />

[ii] Anne McL<strong>in</strong>tock, Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality <strong>in</strong><br />

the Colonial Contest. New York and London, Routledge, 1995, p.<br />

217; p. 207<br />

[iii] McL<strong>in</strong>tock, Imperial Leather, p. 226.<br />

Dr John Miller arrived <strong>in</strong> Sheffield <strong>in</strong> September 2012 to take up a<br />

lectureship <strong>in</strong> N<strong>in</strong>eteenth-Century Literature. He completed his PhD<br />

at the University <strong>of</strong> Glasgow <strong>in</strong> 2009 and then held postdoctoral<br />

research fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study <strong>in</strong> the<br />

Humanities, University <strong>of</strong> Ed<strong>in</strong>burgh, and at the University <strong>of</strong> Northern<br />

British Columbia. He also held a teach<strong>in</strong>g fellowship at the University<br />

<strong>of</strong> East Anglia. He is general secretary <strong>of</strong> the Association for the Study<br />

<strong>of</strong> Literature and Environment (UK & Ireland):http://asle.org.uk/<br />

His research focuses on writ<strong>in</strong>g about animals, ecology and<br />

empire from the n<strong>in</strong>eteenth century to the present, with particular<br />

emphasis on the late Victorian period. His first monograph Empire<br />

and the Animal Body (Anthem, 2012) explores the representation <strong>of</strong><br />

exotic animals <strong>in</strong> Victorian and Edwardian adventure fiction. He is<br />

currently work<strong>in</strong>g on the co-authored volume Walrus for the<br />

Reaktion Animal series and on his second monograph, Fur: A Literary<br />

History. Other work currently <strong>in</strong> progress <strong>in</strong>cludes co-edited<br />

collections on Henry Rider Haggard and on globalization and<br />

heterotopias, and a special edition <strong>of</strong> the <strong>Journal</strong> for Victorian<br />

<strong>Culture</strong>, ‘New Perspectives on Victorian <strong>Animals</strong>’ (with Claire<br />


It is tempt<strong>in</strong>g to take for granted that mature<br />

consumer societies are thusly marked by “arkloads<br />

<strong>of</strong> animal figures—realistic and<br />

fantastic—which parade a veritable carnival <strong>of</strong><br />

significations” through our commercial culture, as<br />

Reuel Denny noted already a half century ago<br />

(1989, lv-lxix). Yet they could not function as such<br />

if it were not for the crucial tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g ground an<br />

elephant called Jumbo provided advertisers and<br />

consumers over a century ago. He was the<br />

primordial case, a Gilded Age signpost show<strong>in</strong>g<br />

marketers and manufacturers how to use animal<br />

figures to tell emotive stories endors<strong>in</strong>g a modern<br />

consumer subjectivity, stories that could be<br />

essentialized and associated with any product.<br />

Although an <strong>in</strong>dividual with a particular history,<br />

over time Jumbo’s tale was boiled down until he<br />

became “an adjective” <strong>in</strong> both colloquial and<br />

commercial use (Hard<strong>in</strong>g 2000, 11). And, he asks<br />

us to th<strong>in</strong>k about how animal figures have guided<br />

consumers through one hundred and thirty years<br />

<strong>of</strong> economic change by persuad<strong>in</strong>g them to<br />

<strong>in</strong>ternalize a central premise <strong>of</strong> modern<br />

capitalism; namely that one can best achieve<br />

personal liberty through ever-expand<strong>in</strong>g<br />

consumption and the ethic <strong>of</strong> “more.”<br />



Today, a pr<strong>of</strong>usion <strong>of</strong> non-human animals <strong>in</strong>habit the world <strong>of</strong> advertis<strong>in</strong>g. Consumers see some <strong>of</strong> them <strong>in</strong> person<br />

and some as brand icons, team mascots, and other more-generic endorsers <strong>of</strong> consumption (sometimes their own<br />

consumption, like pig characters decorat<strong>in</strong>g BBQ restaurants or matronly cows on dairy product packag<strong>in</strong>g)<br />

embellish<strong>in</strong>g countless products, services and enterta<strong>in</strong>ments. This zoological cornucopia provides a naturaliz<strong>in</strong>g<br />

l<strong>in</strong>k to the non-human world, promis<strong>in</strong>g us that to absorb advertis<strong>in</strong>g messages and spend is to participate <strong>in</strong> an<br />

<strong>in</strong>evitable and emotionally authentic activity because, as the belief goes, animals don’t lie (Shuk<strong>in</strong> 2009, 3-5).<br />

Text by Susan Nance<br />

83<br />

Everybody Needs a Story: Gilded Age<br />

Jumbo<br />

In the beg<strong>in</strong>n<strong>in</strong>g, there was a modest but<br />

enthusiastic consumer culture <strong>in</strong> North America,<br />

<strong>in</strong>habited by citizens known to expect timely and<br />

fashionable th<strong>in</strong>gs at the lowest possible price<br />

(Breen 2004, 131-32). Prom<strong>in</strong>ent among the<br />

products and services they patronized were<br />

it<strong>in</strong>erant displays <strong>of</strong> anonymous exotic or wild<br />

animals shown <strong>in</strong> barns and empty lots for a fee.<br />

For consumers, pay<strong>in</strong>g to see unusual animals<br />

spoke <strong>of</strong> a desire for worldly novelty and security<br />

through trade (Somk<strong>in</strong> 1967, 11-54; Weeks 1994,<br />

485-95). <strong>The</strong> handbills and newspaper ads<br />

employed by showmen provided the first graphic<br />

commercial representations <strong>of</strong> the animals that<br />

most North Americans would see, <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

young female pachyderm known famously as<br />

“<strong>The</strong> Elephant,” an educational and exotic visitor.<br />

That first elephant’s popularity with audiences<br />

<strong>in</strong>spired showmen to spend the next century<br />

work<strong>in</strong>g out how to use animals and their<br />

representations to sell.<br />

Ph<strong>in</strong>eas T. Barnum would become a<br />

crucial pioneer <strong>in</strong> this art <strong>of</strong> communicat<strong>in</strong>g to

consumers with animals that promised<br />

compell<strong>in</strong>g consumer experience. Barnum was a<br />

media genius who <strong>in</strong>structed his agents to<br />

embellish fences and newspaper columns with<br />

l<strong>in</strong>e draw<strong>in</strong>gs, steel plate images and textual<br />

depictions <strong>of</strong> real and <strong>in</strong>vented animals,<br />

contextualized with <strong>in</strong>trigu<strong>in</strong>g stories that enticed<br />

viewers to visit <strong>in</strong> order to judge those be<strong>in</strong>gs for<br />

themselves. At the same time, he <strong>in</strong>vited<br />

Americans to determ<strong>in</strong>e how, as residents <strong>of</strong> a<br />

largely unregulated capitalist economy, one<br />

might wisely evaluate advertis<strong>in</strong>g to f<strong>in</strong>d the<br />

frauds and truths they conta<strong>in</strong>ed. Americans were<br />

will<strong>in</strong>g partners with Barnum <strong>in</strong> valoriz<strong>in</strong>g this idea,<br />

hop<strong>in</strong>g that each person would be free to form<br />

an op<strong>in</strong>ion and exercise it through spend<strong>in</strong>g as a<br />

patriotic mode <strong>of</strong> self-improvement (Adams<br />

1997, 147-63; Cook 2001, 73-126; Harris 1981,<br />

74-75).<br />

When he got <strong>in</strong>to the circus trade <strong>in</strong> the<br />

1850’s, Barnum knew that audience fasc<strong>in</strong>ation<br />

with the notion <strong>of</strong> abundance, as well as<br />

competition between companies, had driven<br />

show producers to develop a “MAMMOTH SHOW”<br />

(as the ads <strong>of</strong>ten read) market<strong>in</strong>g practice<br />

whereby companies strove to create “grandness”<br />

and “giantism” <strong>in</strong> their productions, presag<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

broader market<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> excess <strong>in</strong> the late twentieth<br />

century. Bull elephants especially articulated the<br />

<strong>in</strong>dustry’s overall promotional aesthetic. Circuses<br />

were the only ventures that held liv<strong>in</strong>g elephants<br />

at that po<strong>in</strong>t, s<strong>in</strong>ce there would be no network <strong>of</strong><br />

zoos <strong>in</strong> North America until the end <strong>of</strong> the century.<br />

With their vast bulk and unique shape, elephants<br />

on circus bills and <strong>in</strong> circus day parades<br />

functioned “as an advertisement” for the whole<br />

performance genre. “Any alert advertiser [knew]<br />

that the elephants were the th<strong>in</strong>g to ‘bear down<br />

on hard’” <strong>in</strong> order to stay <strong>in</strong> the public eye, as<br />

circus press agent Charles Day recalled <strong>of</strong> the<br />

<strong>in</strong>dustry wisdom at the time (1995, 66, 69).<br />

Later that century, when ad men said “Bill<br />

it like a circus,” they referred specifically to the<br />

dramatic and colorful promotional techniques<br />

developed by early showmen to enterta<strong>in</strong> and<br />

amaze just so (Laird 1998, 44). More broadly, the<br />

dom<strong>in</strong>ant advertis<strong>in</strong>g theory <strong>of</strong> the period<br />

advocated for liberal spend<strong>in</strong>g on messag<strong>in</strong>g<br />

that presented consumers with the same<br />

<strong>in</strong>formation—usually pla<strong>in</strong>-spoken details on what<br />

could be bought, where, and for what price—<br />

over a period <strong>of</strong> weeks or months. Barnum and<br />

other aggressive marketers <strong>in</strong> various trades would<br />

develop this practice by piqu<strong>in</strong>g audience<br />

<strong>in</strong>terest with novel ads <strong>of</strong>fer<strong>in</strong>g puzzles,<br />

observations on current events, compell<strong>in</strong>g<br />

84<br />

graphics or grandiose claims, and repeat<strong>in</strong>g<br />

them until no person could possibly ignore them<br />

(quoted <strong>in</strong> Rowell 1870, 83). Circuses were the<br />

most prolific employers on the cont<strong>in</strong>ent <strong>of</strong><br />

grand, surreal and colorfully graphic lithographed<br />

advertis<strong>in</strong>g, which advance men liberally pasted<br />

over fences and build<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>in</strong> cities and the t<strong>in</strong>iest<br />

towns. <strong>The</strong>y easily flattered audiences as a<br />

privileged citizenry by exclaim<strong>in</strong>g how much risk a<br />

given impresario had taken on to br<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

most extraord<strong>in</strong>ary animals to all ticket-payers,<br />

regardless <strong>of</strong> their station <strong>in</strong> life, illustrat<strong>in</strong>g those<br />

claims with bizarrely surreal and glamorous<br />

images <strong>of</strong> people and animals <strong>in</strong> every<br />

imag<strong>in</strong>able pose.<br />

Barnum was additionally notorious that<br />

century as a master <strong>of</strong> “Humbug” (today we<br />

might say hype). He was an early expert at issu<strong>in</strong>g<br />

press releases, <strong>in</strong>terviews to friendly journalists,<br />

letters to the editor, and various day-by-day bits<br />

<strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>formation that contextualized his advertis<strong>in</strong>g<br />

with a broader controversy or shared public story.<br />

Thus, when Barnum considered Jumbo at the<br />

London Zoo <strong>in</strong> 1881, he saw an elephant who<br />

might carry a dramatic <strong>in</strong>dividual story while<br />

serv<strong>in</strong>g as the perfect agent for the penultimate<br />

execution <strong>of</strong> mammoth market<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> history. <strong>The</strong><br />

elephant was then a much-loved resident <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Zoo and a favorite <strong>of</strong> Queen Victoria herself. Born<br />

<strong>in</strong> 1861, <strong>in</strong> the French Sudan (Mali), he had<br />

resided for a short time after his capture at<br />

the Jard<strong>in</strong> des Plantes <strong>in</strong> Paris before arriv<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong><br />

London around age four, where he spent plenty<br />

<strong>of</strong> time accept<strong>in</strong>g food from visitors and be<strong>in</strong>g<br />

driven by his tra<strong>in</strong>er William Scott about the<br />

grounds, carry<strong>in</strong>g a howdah filled with the<br />

children who paid for a ride. By the late 1870’s,<br />

Jumbo was matur<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>to an adult, and so was<br />

experienc<strong>in</strong>g dangerous periods <strong>of</strong> irritability<br />

known as musth (central to elephant<strong>in</strong>e<br />

reproduction and social organization <strong>in</strong> the wild).<br />

He had also begun to resist the dom<strong>in</strong>ance<br />

tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g used to subdue him by becom<strong>in</strong>g<br />

unpredictable when Scott was not immediately<br />

present.<br />

Jumbo had a strange dual personality as<br />

far as the British public could see. As portrayed by<br />

citizens and the press, he was at once a friend to<br />

children and a dangerous wild animal surely<br />

bound to kill someone. Look<strong>in</strong>g to relieve himself<br />

<strong>of</strong> the responsibility <strong>of</strong> the elephant, London Zoo<br />

Super<strong>in</strong>tendent Abraham Bartlett agreed to sell<br />

Jumbo to Barnum, who would acquire the largest<br />

elephant <strong>in</strong> the world, as the advertis<strong>in</strong>g would<br />

<strong>in</strong>sist, as the centerpiece for a show branded<br />

“Greatest Show on Earth Comb<strong>in</strong>ed with the

Fig. 1.<br />

<strong>The</strong> iconic Jumbo broadside, 1882, Tibbals Digital Collection, John and Mable R<strong>in</strong>gl<strong>in</strong>g Museum <strong>of</strong> Art , Saratosa, FL.<br />


Great London Circus,” produced by his merger<br />

with the ventures <strong>of</strong> legendary circus impresarios<br />

James Hutch<strong>in</strong>son and James A. Bailey (Saxon<br />

1995, 284).<br />

When news <strong>of</strong> the sale became public,<br />

the British press ignited a public controversy that<br />

would lay the groundwork for the elephant’s<br />

transformation from mildly famous zoo captive to<br />

provocative advertis<strong>in</strong>g symbol. In London, the<br />

newspapers and plenty <strong>of</strong> angry citizens,<br />

<strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g children, called Barnum and all<br />

Americans “Philist<strong>in</strong>es” and “slave-owners” who<br />

would make the noble Jumbo mere “chattel”<br />

held captive to enterta<strong>in</strong> a “Yankee mob.” (<strong>The</strong> US<br />

had abolished slavery sixteen years earlier, but<br />

that cliché along with older suspicions <strong>of</strong> the<br />

America as a degenerate and rebellious nation<br />

had stuck) (Hard<strong>in</strong>g 2000, 43-45; Harris 1981, 257;<br />

Jolly 1976, 57-58; Rub<strong>in</strong> and Rub<strong>in</strong> 2005, 3-20).<br />

At first, the controversy had little resonance<br />

s<strong>in</strong>ce North Americans could not closely follow<br />

the scandal <strong>in</strong> the London papers. So Barnum<br />

encouraged the local press to give over many<br />

column <strong>in</strong>ches over to Jumbo’s arrival <strong>in</strong> New York<br />

on April 9, 1882. <strong>The</strong>reafter his market<strong>in</strong>g team<br />

used broadsides and show programs to<br />

reconstruct media representations <strong>of</strong> the difficult<br />

evacuation <strong>of</strong> Jumbo from Brita<strong>in</strong> found <strong>in</strong><br />

newspapers and illustrated magaz<strong>in</strong>es like <strong>The</strong><br />

Illustrated London News and Frank Leslie’s<br />

Illustrated, much <strong>of</strong> which consisted <strong>of</strong> pseudoevents<br />

devised to lengthen and make more<br />

theatrical the shipp<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> the elephant.<br />

Barnum’s lithograph broadsides, show<br />

programs and newspaper spots certa<strong>in</strong>ly billed<br />

Jumbo’s journey “like a circus,” with a colorful and<br />

dramatic giantism (Figure 1). One iconic poster<br />


as “<strong>The</strong> Biggest Elephant <strong>in</strong> the World” <strong>in</strong> tapered<br />

typeset that evoked the curvature <strong>of</strong> the earth,<br />

rem<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>g viewers that Jumbo’s “Removal” had<br />

been “remonstrated aga<strong>in</strong>st by the whole British<br />

nation and was accomplished <strong>in</strong> the face <strong>of</strong><br />

seem<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>surmountable objections” by Barnum<br />

and company. It showed a resistant Jumbo<br />

“FORCED INTO HIS BOX” and brac<strong>in</strong>g himself<br />

aga<strong>in</strong>st the outside <strong>of</strong> the crate. It also portrayed<br />

“JUMBO CHAINED,” wear<strong>in</strong>g an angry expression<br />

and stra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g aga<strong>in</strong>st his halter. Other promotional<br />

materials depicted Jumbo’s height and size with<br />

great exaggeration, as was Barnum’s frequent<br />

practice with animal attractions (Presbrey 1968,<br />

215). One show program <strong>of</strong>fered “All-Famous and<br />

Gigantic ‘JUMBO’ <strong>The</strong> Mighty Lord <strong>of</strong> all Beasts…<br />

<strong>The</strong> Largest Liv<strong>in</strong>g Quadruped on Earth…[and]<br />

Tower<strong>in</strong>g Monster” with Jumbo drawn twice his<br />

86<br />

actual size, and a horse and carriage pass<strong>in</strong>g<br />

comfortably under his belly. [i]<br />

Jumbo’s advertis<strong>in</strong>g told viewers that he<br />

was an extraord<strong>in</strong>ary and powerful <strong>in</strong>dividual<br />

reluctantly forced to the United States, a feat only<br />

Barnum could produce. That narrative drew its<br />

cultural sense from the century’s hunt<strong>in</strong>g<br />

narratives, a genre that was popular <strong>in</strong> book<br />

publish<strong>in</strong>g, magaz<strong>in</strong>es and newspapers. Hunt<strong>in</strong>g<br />

narratives provided dramatic tales <strong>of</strong> western<br />

men who, with the aid <strong>of</strong> local servants, tracked,<br />

captured or killed wild animals <strong>in</strong> Asia and Africa.<br />

<strong>The</strong>ir prey, <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g elephants, were rout<strong>in</strong>ely<br />

portrayed as fierce and noble adversaries <strong>of</strong> the<br />

hunter, beasts who fought valiantly aga<strong>in</strong>st their<br />

pursuers, then died <strong>in</strong> dramatic fashion—all the<br />

better to display the honor and strength <strong>of</strong> the<br />

hunter (here Barnum as f<strong>in</strong>ancial risk taker) brave<br />

enough to <strong>in</strong>itiate the chase (Donald 2006, 50-<br />

68; Wylie 2008, 83-84). An editorialist <strong>in</strong> the<br />

<strong>in</strong>fluential Harper’s Weekly agreed that citizens,<br />

too, had “reasons for satisfaction” <strong>in</strong> Jumbo’s<br />

acquisition because he seemed the largest and<br />

perhaps the most robust captive African elephant<br />

left <strong>in</strong> a world <strong>in</strong> which the ivory trade was<br />

decimat<strong>in</strong>g wild elephant populations. [ii] Soon, he<br />

speculated, the American public might<br />

possess the last African bull elephant on earth!<br />

Barnum’s victory was a victory for the whole<br />

nation, the colloquial and promotional wisdom<br />

<strong>in</strong>sisted. One Greatest Show on Earth broadside<br />

got this po<strong>in</strong>t across with an image <strong>of</strong> Jumbo<br />

tower<strong>in</strong>g over the preserved skeleton <strong>of</strong> a North<br />

American mastodon, a late eighteenth-century<br />

totem <strong>of</strong> national prestige that people<br />

remembered well. [iii]<br />

On both sides <strong>of</strong> the Atlantic, pundits<br />

noted frequent public fatigue <strong>in</strong> the face <strong>of</strong> such<br />

tactics, yet also noted that many Britons and<br />

North Americans seemed s<strong>in</strong>cerely <strong>in</strong>terested <strong>in</strong><br />

Jumbo’s life. So did the naysayers hasten to<br />

participate <strong>in</strong> the Jumbo scandal by lampoon<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the deftness with which Barnum and his staff were<br />

mak<strong>in</strong>g an <strong>in</strong>ternational <strong>in</strong>cident out <strong>of</strong> the sale <strong>of</strong><br />

a captive animal (a transaction zoos and circuses<br />

performed regularly with no public notice). <strong>The</strong><br />

lampooners probably only heightened Jumbo’s<br />

versatility as a “rhetorical animal” s<strong>in</strong>ce they<br />

made cultural space for reticent observers to<br />

make their own <strong>in</strong>terpretive use <strong>of</strong> Jumbo by<br />

compla<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g or tak<strong>in</strong>g ironic enjoyment from<br />

Jumbo as symbol <strong>of</strong> consumer credulity (Ritvo<br />

1989, 5-6). Funny Folks, an illustrated humor<br />

tabloid supplement added to the British<br />

paper, Weekly Budget, [iv] stayed relevant with a<br />

cover (<strong>in</strong> its own way an advertisement for the

Fig. 2.<br />

Funny Folks, 1882. McCaddon Collection, Special Collections and Rare Books, Pr<strong>in</strong>ceton Library, Pr<strong>in</strong>ceton, NJ.<br />


magaz<strong>in</strong>e’s contents and character) depict<strong>in</strong>g<br />

Jumbo as a figurative and literal vehicle for<br />

Barnum’s market<strong>in</strong>g efforts (Figure 2). Drawn with<br />

circus handbills and broadsides glued to his sk<strong>in</strong>,<br />

he was a caricature <strong>of</strong> Barnum’s entrepreneurial<br />

persona as an American media monarch. In a<br />

satirical Roman or British style, he rides Jumbo with<br />

paste-brush scepter <strong>in</strong> hand while wear<strong>in</strong>g a stars<br />

and stripes suit and jaunty crown. Below him, a<br />

grumpy look<strong>in</strong>g Jumbo passes a handbill<br />

celebrat<strong>in</strong>g his own captivity to a small girl.<br />

Plenty <strong>of</strong> people understood that Jumbo<br />

had become a liv<strong>in</strong>g communication medium.<br />

He was a figurative billboard onto which, not only<br />

Barnum and the British and North American press,<br />

but also citizens—the customers <strong>of</strong> zoos, circuses<br />

and the media—were project<strong>in</strong>g their own needs<br />

and identities. Jumbo was then the most famous<br />

animal <strong>in</strong> the world and a turn<strong>in</strong>g po<strong>in</strong>t <strong>in</strong> the<br />

commercialization <strong>of</strong> the human habit <strong>of</strong> us<strong>in</strong>g<br />

animals “to th<strong>in</strong>k”—<strong>in</strong> this case about nature and<br />

national rivalries. And as Jumbo toured the US<br />

and Canada with Barnum’s company over the<br />

next three years, the public noise around the<br />

elephant came to be known as “Jumbo Mania.”<br />

Certa<strong>in</strong>ly, Jumbo’s arrival <strong>in</strong> New York <strong>in</strong><br />

April <strong>of</strong> 1881 was a moment many saw as a sign<br />

<strong>of</strong> the American public’s right to have privileged<br />

access to whatever the world conta<strong>in</strong>ed. If<br />

Barnum wrestled that “whatever” away from the<br />

British for his own pr<strong>of</strong>it, he did so equally on<br />

Americans’ behalf, many believed. In a widely<br />

republished telegram to the editor <strong>of</strong> the London<br />

Telegraph, Barnum <strong>in</strong>sisted the elephant was a<br />

right owed to “Fifty-one millions American citizens<br />

[for whom] my 40 years’ <strong>in</strong>variable practice <strong>of</strong><br />

exhibit<strong>in</strong>g [the] best that money could procure<br />

makes Jumbo’s presence here<br />

imperative.” [v] Here—and this was crucial—<br />

Barnum’s bombastic claims <strong>of</strong> spar<strong>in</strong>g no<br />

expense or effort to br<strong>in</strong>g the most gigantic land<br />

animal on earth to the American public were not<br />

signs <strong>of</strong> fraud, but elements <strong>of</strong> an authentically<br />

American cultural event. Each citizen-consumer<br />

could speak his or her m<strong>in</strong>d about Jumbo’s story<br />

and vicariously capture the mighty elephant. In<br />

effect, Barnum’s advertis<strong>in</strong>g told consumers:<br />

Expect more. You deserve it.<br />

Jumbo Mania was possible, <strong>in</strong> part,<br />

because the elephant’s ads constituted a radical<br />

departure from previous circus advertis<strong>in</strong>g for<br />

elephants, or any animal for that matter. S<strong>in</strong>ce<br />

the 1870’s, when it became possible to<br />

<strong>in</strong>expensively produce detailed illustrations,<br />

advertisers had begun experiment<strong>in</strong>g with ads<br />

featur<strong>in</strong>g animal and child figures, especially for<br />

88<br />

products aimed at women (Laird 1998, 93). Spots<br />

for foods and medic<strong>in</strong>es depicted anonymous<br />

animals as spirits <strong>of</strong> transformation represent<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the power <strong>of</strong> the product at hand. Some even<br />

l<strong>in</strong>ked human and non-human life <strong>in</strong> whimsical<br />

and ancient ways by <strong>of</strong>fer<strong>in</strong>g amus<strong>in</strong>g animals<br />

portrayed <strong>in</strong> human cloth<strong>in</strong>g or, particularly <strong>in</strong> the<br />

case <strong>of</strong> patent medic<strong>in</strong>es like l<strong>in</strong>iments, assur<strong>in</strong>g<br />

viewers they could use the product on a horse’s<br />

body or their own (Lears 1994, 145). <strong>The</strong>se<br />

promotional animal representations revealed an<br />

early <strong>in</strong>dustry understand<strong>in</strong>g that advertis<strong>in</strong>g<br />

should engage the viewer with an open-ended<br />

<strong>in</strong>terrogation <strong>of</strong> some common truth (for <strong>in</strong>stance<br />

the complexity <strong>of</strong> citizens’ constructions <strong>of</strong> the<br />

non-human), the memory <strong>of</strong> which the customer<br />

could l<strong>in</strong>k to purchas<strong>in</strong>g the product. Traditionally<br />

the circuses had advertised their elephants even<br />

more simply as naturalist’s curiosity or happy<br />

performer.<br />

Jumbo, however, was depicted as a<br />

complex <strong>in</strong>dividual experienc<strong>in</strong>g a broad range<br />

<strong>of</strong> human-style emotions and personality traits:<br />

frustration, love, fear, stubbornness, sadness,<br />

anger and melancholy resignation. As much as it<br />

asked the viewer to pay to see him at the circus,<br />

Jumbo’s advertis<strong>in</strong>g also <strong>in</strong>vited consumers to<br />

empathize with his feel<strong>in</strong>gs over his fate, while<br />

imag<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g themselves as his captors. It was that<br />

mediated representation <strong>of</strong> Jumbo as traveler<br />

that gave the elephant his real value. “Men and<br />

women are selfish,” Barnum had advised fellow<br />

entrepreneurs <strong>of</strong> why this was so. “We all prefer<br />

purchas<strong>in</strong>g where we can get the most for our<br />

money,” he expla<strong>in</strong>ed, know<strong>in</strong>g that <strong>in</strong> the case<br />

<strong>of</strong> his animal exhibitions he sold not just the<br />

chance to view an animal but an opportunity to<br />

participate <strong>in</strong> a story about the animal that<br />

reflected one’s own identity (quoted <strong>in</strong> Rowell<br />

1870, 82). Barnum had pioneered the “exchange<br />

<strong>of</strong> story for value” <strong>in</strong> his earlier promotions <strong>of</strong><br />

human performers as celebrities and freaks, but<br />

tread new territory when he extended it to the<br />

non-human Jumbo (Twitchell 2000, 25; see also<br />

Presbrey 1968, 219-22). And, <strong>in</strong> fact, it appears<br />

that the Greatest Show on Earth circus sold far<br />

more tickets than usual because <strong>of</strong> the fame<br />

Jumbo achieved <strong>in</strong> the US. Barnum boasted, <strong>in</strong><br />

one <strong>of</strong> his biographies, that he earned several<br />

times over the reported $30,000 he <strong>in</strong>vested <strong>in</strong><br />

import<strong>in</strong>g and ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g the elephant (Barnum<br />

1888, 333).<br />

Jumbo Mania cont<strong>in</strong>ued unabated for<br />

three years. North Americans immediately began<br />

mak<strong>in</strong>g colloquial use <strong>of</strong> the elephant’s title, for<br />

<strong>in</strong>stance as a name for horses and household

Fig. 3.<br />

Clark’s O.N.T. Spool Cotton Jumbo trade card series by Buek<br />

and L<strong>in</strong>dner Lithograph, 1883, Historical Collections, Baker<br />

Library, Harvard Bus<strong>in</strong>ess School, Harvard University,<br />

Cambridge, MA.<br />

pets. Consumers identified with Jumbo further<br />

because the elephant complimented<br />

contemporary technologies for the <strong>in</strong>expensive<br />

reproduction <strong>of</strong> images, which were prov<strong>in</strong>g a<br />

boon to the work <strong>of</strong> persuasion by way <strong>of</strong><br />

storytell<strong>in</strong>g with characters (Laird 1998, 69, 93,<br />

149-51). In the spirit <strong>of</strong> Barnum’s “Jumbo cha<strong>in</strong>ed”<br />

vignette, a Boston thread manufacturer issued a<br />

color trade card advocat<strong>in</strong>g for the strength <strong>of</strong><br />

their product, show<strong>in</strong>g a fierce, red-eyed Jumbo<br />

be<strong>in</strong>g dragged through the streets <strong>of</strong> London to<br />

the ship that would send him to America<br />

“Because Drawn by Willamantic Thread!” [vi] Clark’s<br />

Spool Cotton company produced a series <strong>of</strong> ten<br />

trade cards show<strong>in</strong>g: Jumbo arriv<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> America;<br />

with suitcase <strong>in</strong> trunk play<strong>in</strong>g tourist; <strong>in</strong> a tuxedo at<br />

the Opera; <strong>in</strong> a bath<strong>in</strong>g suit at the beach at<br />

Coney Island; <strong>in</strong> a bow tie, guzzl<strong>in</strong>g beer at the<br />

bar (here as a male over<strong>in</strong>dulg<strong>in</strong>g at the saloon<br />

<strong>in</strong> reference to the reality <strong>of</strong> manly alcoholism<br />

89<br />

and media reports, probably accurate, that<br />

Jumbo liked alcohol) [vii] (Figure 3). A billiard ball<br />

company similarly presaged the abstraction <strong>of</strong><br />

Jumbo as promotional ideal. <strong>The</strong>y ignored the<br />

fact that Jumbo had broken <strong>of</strong>f his tusks back <strong>in</strong><br />

London to <strong>of</strong>fer ivory “Jumbo Billiard and Pool<br />

Balls” to consumers <strong>in</strong> a “Jumbo Catalogue” sent<br />

by mail. L<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g Jumbo’s notoriety to their the<br />

product they <strong>of</strong>fered a simple, opaque pr<strong>of</strong>ile<br />

elephant with the word “JUMBO” superimposed<br />

across the hide <strong>in</strong> white letters. [viii]<br />

Indeed, most companies appropriated<br />

Jumbo <strong>in</strong>to scenarios divorced from the persona<br />

<strong>of</strong> P.T. Barnum or their even their own company<br />

pr<strong>of</strong>iles. That is, while many companies had been<br />

brand<strong>in</strong>g with the rags-to-riches story <strong>of</strong> their<br />

proprietors (which <strong>in</strong>deed P.T. Barnum did as an<br />

impresario and self-declared celebrity), others<br />

opted to connect their products to the viewer’s<br />

experience <strong>of</strong> the media blitz around the<br />

elephant’s transformation <strong>in</strong>to American pet. <strong>The</strong><br />

ma<strong>in</strong> purpose <strong>of</strong> Jumbo as celebrity was to<br />

empower and endorse an emotional and self<strong>in</strong>terested<br />

consumerist subjectivity beyond the<br />

context <strong>of</strong> circus advertis<strong>in</strong>g. And that act set the<br />

stage for all consumers to appropriate the power<br />

<strong>of</strong> Jumbo the bull elephant just as P. T. Barnum<br />

had, but with less effort and expense.<br />

Jumbo as the Liberty to Enjoy More<br />

<strong>The</strong>n Jumbo died, hit by a tra<strong>in</strong> <strong>in</strong> the small town<br />

<strong>of</strong> St. Thomas, Ontario. It was 1885. Barnum,<br />

Bailey and Hutch<strong>in</strong>son pressed on, exhibit<strong>in</strong>g<br />

Jumbo’s skeleton and taxidermied sk<strong>in</strong> for some<br />

years, then donat<strong>in</strong>g the former to the American<br />

Museum <strong>of</strong> Natural History <strong>in</strong> New York and the<br />

latter to Tufts College <strong>in</strong> Medford, Massachusetts.<br />

Yet, the idea <strong>of</strong> Jumbo had been such a<br />

great step forward <strong>in</strong> us<strong>in</strong>g animal figures to l<strong>in</strong>k<br />

spend<strong>in</strong>g to the consumer’s symbolic<br />

appropriation <strong>of</strong> the animal’s energy that it did<br />

not die. Jumbo first reappeared as “jumbo,” a<br />

promotional notion <strong>in</strong> the 1910’s and 1920’s <strong>in</strong> the<br />

world <strong>of</strong> music production, seen as a “craze <strong>of</strong><br />

composers and concert-givers for long<br />

compositions and monster performances,” and<br />

other works featur<strong>in</strong>g “long-drawn-out arias” and<br />

other gimmicks. [ix] Later the word became a term<br />

for the market<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> newspapers with sensational<br />

stories and “Jumbo editions,” and the drive to<br />

produce ever-taller skyscrapers. [x] Early twentiethcentury<br />

jumboism—“the tendency to esteem art<br />

<strong>in</strong> proportion to its bulk” (as circuses similarly had<br />

<strong>in</strong> their mammoth market<strong>in</strong>g programs)—was a<br />

sign <strong>of</strong> gauche excess and imprudent faith <strong>in</strong>

Fig. 4.<br />

Fruit crate label, ca. 1933. Image courtesy <strong>of</strong> <strong>The</strong> Advertis<strong>in</strong>g Archives, London<br />

scale. [xi] <strong>The</strong> phenomenon showed how Barnum’s<br />

satire and celebration <strong>of</strong> American pretensions to<br />

greatness was so <strong>of</strong>ten repeated that it had<br />

become a cliché, now devoid <strong>of</strong> its orig<strong>in</strong>al<br />

tongue-<strong>in</strong>-cheek roast<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> the public’s<br />

fasc<strong>in</strong>ation for “firsts” and “mosts.”<br />

Whether nervous or dismissive <strong>of</strong> the trend,<br />

critics noted that jumboism seemed a peculiarly<br />

American aesthetic, a code for lowbrow<br />

abundance. [xii] Fueled by the boom<strong>in</strong>g consumer<br />

culture many urban Americans were experienc<strong>in</strong>g<br />

<strong>in</strong> those decades, it was also promoted by<br />

consumers’ groups and ad men determ<strong>in</strong>ed to<br />

establish mass consumption as a basic element<br />

<strong>of</strong> national identity and social participation. In<br />

do<strong>in</strong>g so, they were re<strong>in</strong>vigorat<strong>in</strong>g the old “politics<br />

<strong>of</strong> ‘more,’” <strong>in</strong>troduced by trade unions <strong>in</strong> the<br />

1890’s, as an alternative to radical economic<br />

reforms, to <strong>of</strong>fer workers a bigger cut <strong>of</strong> the<br />

wealth they helped to produce (Currar<strong>in</strong>o 2006,<br />

17-36; McGovern 2006).<br />

90<br />

Meanwhile, advertisers turned to “scientific<br />

advertis<strong>in</strong>g” campaigns that assumed the<br />

emotional pliability <strong>of</strong> consumers and so<br />

associated products with experiences <strong>of</strong><br />

satisfaction or the creation and display <strong>of</strong><br />

personality (Marchand 1985, 68-69). In mov<strong>in</strong>g<br />

from the carnivalesque to realism <strong>in</strong> their art, ad<br />

men emphasized aspirational consumption <strong>of</strong><br />

home appliances, automobiles, jewelry, cloth<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

and cosmetics. Anonymous elephants cont<strong>in</strong>ued<br />

to appear <strong>in</strong> various k<strong>in</strong>ds <strong>of</strong> advertis<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> those<br />

years, for <strong>in</strong>stance as icons for India (pictured as<br />

a decorated Asian elephant carry<strong>in</strong>g riders), or <strong>in</strong><br />

cartoons, as symbols for the American<br />

Republican Party, and (if p<strong>in</strong>k) for a state <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>in</strong>toxication.<br />

When the Great Depression hit, the<br />

contemporary ethos evoked “Fear and<br />

Hoard<strong>in</strong>g,” as one recent <strong>in</strong>terpretation put it, as<br />

consumers focused especially on food<br />

staples. [xiii] It was also the era <strong>of</strong> safari-style “tooth

and claw” movies and other cultural products<br />

that celebrated a forceful and <strong>in</strong>dependent<br />

manhood <strong>in</strong> order to reassure Canadians and<br />

Americans who saw the men <strong>in</strong> their lives buckl<strong>in</strong>g<br />

emotionally under the humiliation <strong>of</strong> chronic<br />

unemployment. Invit<strong>in</strong>g vicarious participation by<br />

viewers, <strong>in</strong> safari films, wild animal wranglers like<br />

Frank Buck and Clyde Beatty dom<strong>in</strong>ated their<br />

animal subjects—tigers, lions, elephants and<br />

others—who were noble adversaries because<br />

they were equally powerful as their captors.<br />

(Stokes 2004, 138-54) Indeed, had it not been so<br />

for Barnum and his audience with Jumbo as well?<br />

Consequently, for parity products like<br />

food, the old aesthetic <strong>of</strong> abundance became<br />

newly important and jumboism as market<strong>in</strong>g<br />

theory for musicians and newspaper men jostled<br />

<strong>in</strong> those days with an archetypical African bull, a<br />

generic Jumbo <strong>of</strong> sorts. He appeared on cans<br />

and boxes to give “regenerative” mean<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

oversized produce like “Jumbo Olives” (Lears<br />

1994, 157-58). Strength Valencias oranges <strong>of</strong><br />

California created a series <strong>of</strong> animal themed<br />

labels for their wooden crates featur<strong>in</strong>g rh<strong>in</strong>os,<br />

lions, and others. <strong>The</strong> Strength-brand African<br />

elephant sniffed down his trunk at the viewer with<br />

his ears outstretched display<strong>in</strong>g his size and might<br />

(Figure 4). For consumers weary <strong>of</strong> restra<strong>in</strong>t and<br />

uncerta<strong>in</strong>ty, this jumbo elephant was a sign <strong>of</strong><br />

gigantism to be sure, yet not as hype or satire, but<br />

as relief. He was a comfort<strong>in</strong>g promise for the<br />

future and metaphor for citizens’ <strong>in</strong>ner fortitude,<br />

mental and physical. (Indeed, the University <strong>of</strong><br />

Alabama still uses an “angry” African bull<br />

elephant as promotional mascot for their sports<br />

teams.)<br />

Older forms would overlap with these new<br />

trends. <strong>The</strong> formal “Jumbo” still served as a<br />

nostalgic stock character <strong>of</strong> the circus arts,<br />

advertis<strong>in</strong>g the genre <strong>in</strong> films and Broadway<br />

shows set <strong>in</strong> circuses. And after the Cole Brothers<br />

Clyde Beatty Circus had the gumption to <strong>of</strong>fer an<br />

elephant as “JUMBO 2 nd – <strong>The</strong> Only African<br />

Elephant with Any Circus” <strong>in</strong> the 1930’s, there<br />

would be more than thirty zoo and circus<br />

elephants around the world given that<br />

name. [xiv] One 1948 Levi’s ad for work<strong>in</strong>g-class<br />

men comb<strong>in</strong>ed jumbo as circus trope and<br />

metaphor by portray<strong>in</strong>g two elephants giggl<strong>in</strong>g<br />

about a third, who va<strong>in</strong>ly struggles to pull his leg<br />

free from a stake to which he is tethered with a<br />

pair <strong>of</strong> jeans: “S<strong>in</strong>ce they tied him up with those<br />

Levi’s – he never gets away,” one expla<strong>in</strong>s to the<br />

other. [xv]<br />

Still, post-War advertis<strong>in</strong>g practice<br />

expanded to <strong>in</strong>clude promotion by the sell<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong><br />

91<br />

lifestyles (enacted through specific products) such<br />

that jumboism proliferated to a broad array <strong>of</strong><br />

products promis<strong>in</strong>g modernity, joy and liberty <strong>in</strong><br />

unrestra<strong>in</strong>ed consumption, especially for the<br />

valuable adult female market segment (Leiss,<br />

Kl<strong>in</strong>e, Jhally and Botterill 2005, 190-98). <strong>The</strong> 1955<br />

mail-order catalogue Housewares for<br />

Homemakers proposed that the Pearl-Wick<br />

Jumbo Shelf Hamper could make post-War<br />

laundry storage elegantly functional: “Super<br />

giantized hamper with handy built <strong>in</strong> shelf for<br />

cosmetics… Largest hamper ever made.” In the<br />

Miss America Pageant Official Yearbook for 1963,<br />

an ad for Toni Home Beauty Collection <strong>of</strong>fered,<br />

“for the girl who wants just curves, not curls. Big,<br />

big jumbo size body curlers.” [xvi]<br />

Jumbo had come to mean “enjoy more –<br />

you deserve it”—more volume, more options,<br />

more convenience—as a sort <strong>of</strong><br />

consumerist carpe diem. Jumbo as modern<br />

abstraction <strong>of</strong>fered acquisitiveness without the<br />

ta<strong>in</strong>t <strong>of</strong> gluttony. It reified a corporate,<br />

government and popular consensus that North<br />

Americans would be def<strong>in</strong>ed by what Lizabeth<br />

Cohen has called “an economy <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>exhaustible<br />

abundance,” that many consumers appear to<br />

have embraced wholeheartedly as a right they<br />

had earned (Cohen 2003, 10). Indeed, every<br />

agricultural fair and carnival <strong>of</strong>fered “Jumbo<br />

Malts” and milkshakes for carefree summer eat<strong>in</strong>g<br />

<strong>in</strong> places <strong>of</strong> commercial leisure, and so<br />

employed jumbo as a food design element<br />

evok<strong>in</strong>g relaxed celebration.<br />

It made sense for Jumbo to become so<br />

abstract. New streams <strong>of</strong> conceptual advertis<strong>in</strong>g<br />

were emerg<strong>in</strong>g just then to expla<strong>in</strong> products,<br />

services, whole companies, and even political<br />

candidates with impressionistic and highly<br />

symbolic or metaphorical messag<strong>in</strong>g. <strong>The</strong><br />

Volkswagen Beetle “Th<strong>in</strong>k Small” ad m<strong>in</strong>iaturized a<br />

Beetle <strong>in</strong> the upper left hand corner <strong>of</strong> a blank,<br />

white space <strong>in</strong> order to advertise the car by<br />

engag<strong>in</strong>g its critics (result<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> “<strong>The</strong> most admired<br />

pr<strong>in</strong>t ad <strong>of</strong> all time,” by one tell<strong>in</strong>g) (Tungate 2007,<br />

opposite 118). Such advertis<strong>in</strong>g asked consumers<br />

to do the mental work <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>terpret<strong>in</strong>g and<br />

<strong>in</strong>corporat<strong>in</strong>g promotional communication <strong>in</strong>to a<br />

persona ev<strong>in</strong>c<strong>in</strong>g membership <strong>in</strong> subcultures<br />

def<strong>in</strong>ed by particular modes <strong>of</strong> consumption.<br />

Accord<strong>in</strong>gly, <strong>in</strong> the context <strong>of</strong> grow<strong>in</strong>g public<br />

awareness <strong>of</strong> the abilities and complex mental<br />

lives <strong>of</strong> elephants publicized by media-savvy<br />

ethologists and behaviorists <strong>in</strong> those years, North<br />

Americans soon found advertis<strong>in</strong>g bear<strong>in</strong>g tra<strong>in</strong>ed<br />

elephants pictured attempt<strong>in</strong>g to crush luggage<br />

<strong>in</strong> order to demonstrate its durability or pictured

Fig. 5.<br />

Consumer as astonished <strong>in</strong>nocent. United States Postal Service, “Jumbo Jets,” 1999<br />

with home computers as a metaphor for memory<br />

[xvii] (Mitman 2006, 175-94).<br />

Perhaps the peak <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>nocent faith <strong>in</strong><br />

jumbo as product design concept came <strong>in</strong> 1970<br />

with the advent <strong>of</strong> commercial travel by the<br />

Boe<strong>in</strong>g 747 (Figure 5). <strong>The</strong> “Jumbo Jet”<br />

<strong>in</strong>corporated the essence <strong>of</strong> a long-dead animal<br />

to express an ethos <strong>of</strong> “more” by its very form. It<br />

evoked a sense <strong>of</strong> wonder for the can-do-ism <strong>in</strong><br />

American <strong>in</strong>dustrial production, l<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g consumer<br />

emotions and ideology <strong>in</strong> every flight (Kramer<br />

2006, 156-59). Like the promotional stamp the<br />

United States Postal Service would issue <strong>in</strong> 1999 to<br />

celebrate the first commercial flight <strong>of</strong> the Boe<strong>in</strong>g<br />

747, the aircraft would advertise American power<br />

and affluence as it traveled the globe.<br />

92<br />

Jumbo: “Help Yourself to Happ<strong>in</strong>ess”<br />

Today, Jumbo seems, <strong>in</strong> many respects, a<br />

throwback to simpler times. In our contemporary<br />

“fifth frame” <strong>of</strong> promotional communication,<br />

much advertis<strong>in</strong>g refra<strong>in</strong>s from tell<strong>in</strong>g consumers<br />

that products and services are tied to a particular<br />

lifestyle, social group or persona; <strong>in</strong>stead <strong>of</strong>fer<strong>in</strong>g<br />

that it can be a medium for the creation <strong>of</strong> one’s<br />

own mean<strong>in</strong>gs (Leiss, Kl<strong>in</strong>e, Jhally and Botterill<br />

2005, 563-72). Yet, Jumbo rema<strong>in</strong>s more<br />

ideologically rigid. It is a tenacious classic that<br />

paradoxically speaks <strong>of</strong> an admiration for “more,”<br />

while promot<strong>in</strong>g products and services directed<br />

at people for whom more is <strong>of</strong>ten less. To be sure,<br />

many uses <strong>of</strong> jumbo rema<strong>in</strong> <strong>in</strong>nocuous enough

(and thus all the more persuasive because<br />

seem<strong>in</strong>gly free <strong>of</strong> ideology): jumbo pa<strong>in</strong>t tray,<br />

jumbo rais<strong>in</strong>s, jumbo paper towels, jumbo frame<br />

(ethernet network), Jumbotron. This is particularly<br />

so with utilitarian products for which “more” is<br />

<strong>in</strong>deed a practical matter <strong>of</strong> convenience.<br />

Yet, as a term, jumbo has become a<br />

broadly applicable cloak for the market<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong><br />

over<strong>in</strong>dulgence—the post-War consumerist carpe<br />

diem taken to the extreme. Some commentators<br />

have labeled the result<strong>in</strong>g phenomenon,<br />

“affluenza,” an affliction suffered by “<strong>The</strong><br />

Overspent American,” strung out on credit and a<br />

facile belief <strong>in</strong> the cheapness <strong>of</strong> buy<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong><br />

bulk. [xviii] Recent uses <strong>of</strong> the jumbo idea bear<br />

troubl<strong>in</strong>g testament to that self-destructive streak<br />

<strong>in</strong> North American consumers. With the economic<br />

bubbles North Americans created at the end <strong>of</strong><br />

the twentieth-century, there came robust modes<br />

<strong>of</strong> consumption and display to celebrate them.<br />

<strong>The</strong> conceptual jumbo became a marker<br />

(satirical for some, <strong>in</strong>vigorat<strong>in</strong>g for others) <strong>of</strong><br />

brands encourag<strong>in</strong>g proud rejection <strong>of</strong> modesty<br />

and self-restra<strong>in</strong>t, with food as a particular fixation:<br />

Jumbo 2 for 1 Pizza, jumbo hot dog, Super Size<br />

meal, Super Big Gulp, Meat’Normous Omelet<br />

Sandwich. Jumboism materialized as an entire<br />

genre <strong>of</strong> “all-you-can-eat” restaurants unique to<br />

the cont<strong>in</strong>ent (the most un<strong>in</strong>tentionally depress<strong>in</strong>g<br />

slogan be<strong>in</strong>g attached to the Golden Corral<br />

cha<strong>in</strong>: “Help Yourself to Happ<strong>in</strong>ess”). We see it <strong>in</strong><br />

the brand<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> box stores and bulk retailers like<br />

Costco, Big Lots and the Direct Buy Club that<br />

promise the consumer economies <strong>of</strong> scale but<br />

actually burden them with the costs <strong>of</strong><br />

transport<strong>in</strong>g, stor<strong>in</strong>g and f<strong>in</strong>anc<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>ventory that<br />

supermarkets and department stores once<br />

bankrolled. Those patterns were <strong>in</strong> turn facilitated<br />

by the public’s desire for <strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>gly large<br />

vehicles (remember the Hummer?) to carry<br />

warehouse shopp<strong>in</strong>g f<strong>in</strong>ds to spacious “monster<br />

houses,” all <strong>of</strong> it f<strong>in</strong>anced by “jumbo loans.”<br />

(Figure 6)<br />

Eagles, beavers, elk, bison, coyotes and<br />

other symbolic species aside, the African bull<br />

elephant—the Jumbo elephant—has been the<br />

iconic animal <strong>of</strong> North American capitalism.<br />

Unlike the fictionalized and essentialized animal<br />

figures that represent human feel<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> advertis<strong>in</strong>g<br />

for cellular companies, zoos, foods, animated<br />

films and countless other products, services and<br />

experiences, jumbo advertises the overarch<strong>in</strong>g<br />

ideal by which consumption has constantly<br />

expanded. Although embraced sporadically<br />

across the population, the ethos <strong>of</strong> jumbo has<br />

been grounded <strong>in</strong> a simple but very old idea: if<br />

93<br />

Fig. 6.<br />

Asian elephant as stand <strong>in</strong> for jumbo as suddenly precarious<br />

product design concept, 2010. Image courtesy <strong>of</strong> Diamond<br />

Fund<strong>in</strong>g Corporation.<br />

some is good, more must be better; North<br />

Americans should have the most, and it will be<br />

easy. S<strong>in</strong>ce Jumbo’s day, images and stories<br />

extracted from events around his life seem to<br />

have had a mysterious power to communicate<br />

manifestly fraudulent claims with a sense <strong>of</strong><br />

authenticity that have made them seem<br />

normative and comfort<strong>in</strong>g. <strong>The</strong> puzzle and power<br />

<strong>of</strong> jumbo as advertis<strong>in</strong>g trope is that this effect did<br />

not fade as the generations passed. Today he still<br />

naturalizes the most unsusta<strong>in</strong>able consumer<br />

desires and habits.<br />

Notes<br />

[i] “<strong>The</strong> Great African Elephant Jumbo,” Strobridge Lithograph Co., 1882, Tibbals<br />

Digital Collection, John and Mable R<strong>in</strong>gl<strong>in</strong>g Museum <strong>of</strong> Art, retrieved May 2,<br />

2011;<br />

http://emuseum.r<strong>in</strong>gl<strong>in</strong>g.org/emuseum/view/objects/asitem/search$0040/4/title<br />

-asc?t:state:flow=9dc5b092-f73d-4076-ada6-c44123d3e916; “Barnum &<br />

London: 8 United Monster Shows,” 1883, C-131a, Circus Poster Collection,<br />

Pr<strong>in</strong>ceton University Library, Pr<strong>in</strong>ceton, NJ.<br />

[ii] “Jumbo,” Harper’s Weekly, April 1, 1882.<br />

[iii] “Barnum & London: Jumbo,” Strobridge Lithograph Co., 1882, Tibbals Digital<br />

Collection, John and Mable R<strong>in</strong>gl<strong>in</strong>g Museum <strong>of</strong> Art, retrieved May 2, 2011,<br />

http://emuseum.r<strong>in</strong>gl<strong>in</strong>g.org/emuseum/view/objects/asitem/search$0040/1/title<br />

-asc?t:state:flow=04cd6684-1e6b-4674-8c76-74dfb893acc5.<br />

[iv] “History <strong>of</strong> the Collection – Funny Folks,” British Comics Collection, British<br />

Library, retrieved April 17, 2011,<br />

http://www.bl.uk/reshelp/f<strong>in</strong>dhelprestype/news/britcomics/.<br />

[v] “Barnum and His Elephant Jumba (sic.),” New York Times, February 24, 1882.<br />

[vi] <strong>The</strong> Willamantic trade card is reproduced <strong>in</strong> Deborah Walk, Jennifer Lemmer<br />

and Marcy Murray, “Colorful Circus Paper Traces the Spread <strong>of</strong><br />

‘Jumbomania’,” Ephemera Society Articles, retrieved March 21, 2011,<br />

http://www.ephemerasociety.org/articles.html.<br />

[vii] Clark’s O.N.T. Spool Cotton Jumbo trade card series by Buek and L<strong>in</strong>dner<br />

Lithograph, 1883, Historical Collections, Baker Library, Harvard Bus<strong>in</strong>ess School,<br />

Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, retrieved March 27, 2011,<br />

http://www.library.hbs.edu/hc/19th_century_tcard/. <strong>The</strong> full series can be<br />

viewed at http://www.tradecards.com/articles/jumboBL/<strong>in</strong>dex.html.<br />

[viii] “Jumbo Billiard and Pool Balls,” Puck, June 27, 1883.

[ix] “A Few L<strong>in</strong>es,” Review <strong>of</strong> Reviews 4 (1891): 289; Henry <strong>The</strong>ophilus<br />

F<strong>in</strong>ck, Songs and Songwriters (New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1900), 28.<br />

[x] “<strong>Journal</strong>ism,” <strong>The</strong> Spectator 114 (June 12, 1915): 805.<br />

[xi] F<strong>in</strong>ck, Songs and Songwriters, 19.<br />

[xii] “Jumbomania,” Littell’s Liv<strong>in</strong>g Age 287 (1915): 187<br />

[xiii] “An American Dream Timel<strong>in</strong>e,” Vanity Fair, March 13, 2009, retrieved May<br />

2, 2011, http://www.vanityfair.com/onl<strong>in</strong>e/daily/2009/03/an-american-dreamtimel<strong>in</strong>e.html.<br />

[xiv] http://www.elephant.se/database.php.<br />

[xv] “Levi’s,” Ho<strong>of</strong>s & Horns 43, no. 3 (September 1948): 21.<br />

[xvi] John Wanamaker Department Stores, Housewares for<br />

Homemakers (Philadelphia: Whipple & Kelley, 1955), 13; Official Yearbook <strong>of</strong><br />

the Miss America Pageant, 1963, 31, Miss America Programs Collection. Both<br />

these sources reside <strong>in</strong> the Digital Archives <strong>of</strong> the Hagley Library and Museum,<br />

Greenville, DE, http://digital.hagley.org/.<br />

[xvii]<br />

For a sampl<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> such advertis<strong>in</strong>g see<br />

http://www.advertis<strong>in</strong>garchives.co.uk/.<br />

[xviii] At least five books by different authors bear the title Affluenza. Juliet<br />

Schor, <strong>The</strong> Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don’t Need (New York:<br />

Harper Perennial, 1999).<br />

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Interpretation <strong>of</strong> United States Political Economy, 1789-1861” <strong>in</strong> <strong>Journal</strong> <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Early Republic Vol. 14, No. 4, 485-95.<br />

Wylie, Dan. 2008. Elephant. London: Reaktion.<br />

Susan Nance is a historian <strong>of</strong> communication and live<br />

enterta<strong>in</strong>ment. She is Associate Pr<strong>of</strong>essor at the University <strong>of</strong> Guelph<br />

<strong>in</strong> Guelph, Ontario and affiliated faculty <strong>of</strong> the Campbell Centre for<br />

the Study <strong>of</strong> Animal Welfare. She received her Ph.D. from UC<br />

Berkeley <strong>in</strong> 2003 and has s<strong>in</strong>ce published on the histories <strong>of</strong> parades,<br />

civic festivals and the bus<strong>in</strong>ess <strong>of</strong> tourism, as well as a book, How the<br />

Arabian Nights Inspired the American Dream, 1790-1935 (University<br />

<strong>of</strong> North Carol<strong>in</strong>a Press, 2009), document<strong>in</strong>g uses <strong>of</strong> Eastern<br />

personae <strong>in</strong> amateur and pr<strong>of</strong>essional enterta<strong>in</strong>ment. Susan's most<br />

recent work, Enterta<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g Elephants: Animal Agency and Bus<strong>in</strong>ess <strong>in</strong><br />

the American Circus (<strong>The</strong> Johns Hopk<strong>in</strong>s University Press, 2013)<br />

documents the lives and labors <strong>of</strong> 19th-century circus elephants.<br />

She is currently work<strong>in</strong>g on the nature <strong>of</strong> animal celebrity as well as a<br />

book-length history <strong>of</strong> rodeo animals <strong>in</strong> North America.

T<br />

his ad for Armstrong tires depicts a burly,<br />

brash rh<strong>in</strong>oceros slouch<strong>in</strong>g somewhat<br />

taunt<strong>in</strong>gly, hat askew, and cigar <strong>in</strong> hand. He<br />

looks like a Hollywood gangster. “Really,” the<br />

rh<strong>in</strong>oceros seems to say, “you’re go<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

question my toughness?”<br />

<strong>The</strong> slogan “None Tougher” appears as the<br />

headl<strong>in</strong>e <strong>of</strong> the ad, <strong>in</strong>tended to sell durable tires<br />

to American consumers. Armstrong’s advertis<strong>in</strong>g<br />

strategy meshes a presumed toughness <strong>of</strong><br />

rh<strong>in</strong>oceros sk<strong>in</strong> with an imag<strong>in</strong>ed toughness <strong>of</strong><br />

rh<strong>in</strong>oceros personality. Yet the imag<strong>in</strong>ed<br />

“personality” <strong>of</strong> this rh<strong>in</strong>oceros has more to do with<br />

a stereotype <strong>of</strong> a car salesman or auto<br />

mechanic than <strong>of</strong> actual rh<strong>in</strong>oceroses. He is<br />

made human through bipedalism, clotheswear<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

and cigar-smok<strong>in</strong>g. This is, <strong>in</strong> fact, a very<br />

human version <strong>of</strong> toughness; it says noth<strong>in</strong>g about<br />

the natural traits <strong>of</strong> rh<strong>in</strong>oceroses that might make<br />

them good examples <strong>of</strong> robustness.<br />

Armstrong’s advertisement is sell<strong>in</strong>g both<br />

nature and artifice. First, the product itself, Rh<strong>in</strong>o-<br />

Flex tires, are constructed from rubber. Rubber is<br />

a natural product, though it is likely that Armstrong<br />

also used artificial <strong>in</strong>gredients available at the<br />

time, perhaps even artificial rubber. While they<br />

make no claims to the tires’ composition, they<br />

use a second natural product as a sales pitch:<br />

rh<strong>in</strong>oceros sk<strong>in</strong>. <strong>The</strong> tires are not made from rh<strong>in</strong>o<br />

sk<strong>in</strong> nor, as far as we can tell, do they directly<br />

95<br />


Rh<strong>in</strong>oceroses are rarely anthropomorphized mak<strong>in</strong>g this American magaz<strong>in</strong>e advertisement from the 1950s an<br />

unusual specimen. Armstrong, a rubber and tire company, found the tough exterior <strong>of</strong> rh<strong>in</strong>oceroses the prime<br />

comparison for its most durable automobile tires, dubbed “Rh<strong>in</strong>o-Flex.”<br />

Text by Kelly Enright<br />

mimic (as today’s biomimicry might) its<br />

construction. <strong>The</strong> comparison is presumptuous.<br />

Yet Armstrong’s illustrator makes the po<strong>in</strong>t. Look at<br />

the tires l<strong>in</strong>ed <strong>in</strong> a neat row <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>gly deep,<br />

rugged traction. <strong>The</strong>n move your eye to the right<br />

hip <strong>of</strong> the rh<strong>in</strong>oceros. His sk<strong>in</strong> is pocked and<br />

wr<strong>in</strong>kled and has warts that visually resembles the<br />

most rugged <strong>of</strong> the tires (the one at far right). Here<br />

is the image <strong>of</strong> rh<strong>in</strong>o toughness the consumer is<br />

meant to buy—figuratively and literally.<br />

While this gangster rh<strong>in</strong>o appears as a<br />

character <strong>in</strong> several ads, Armstrong’s logo for<br />

Rh<strong>in</strong>o-Flex tires is the smaller rh<strong>in</strong>oceros seen on<br />

the top <strong>of</strong> the tire rack. Represented here is a<br />

comparatively younger, more jubilant member <strong>of</strong><br />

the species. It is engaged <strong>in</strong> a carefree jaunt, its<br />

tail bounc<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> the breeze, its mouth turned<br />

slightly upwards <strong>in</strong> a smile. This rh<strong>in</strong>o, known as<br />

“Tuffy,” appeared pr<strong>in</strong>ted on several market<strong>in</strong>g<br />

products such as ashtrays, paperweights, and<br />

patches, and despite its name hardly conveys<br />

toughness. <strong>The</strong> fiction <strong>of</strong> the ad creates a world <strong>in</strong><br />

which a rh<strong>in</strong>o salesman uses another rh<strong>in</strong>o image<br />

to sell tires. Tuffy is a rh<strong>in</strong>oceros representation<br />

with<strong>in</strong> a world <strong>of</strong> personified rh<strong>in</strong>oceroses. Is the<br />

larger one the real rh<strong>in</strong>o? Or is the logo?<br />

And which is really sell<strong>in</strong>g the tires? While<br />

the tough rh<strong>in</strong>o glares at the viewer, Tuffy, smiles.<br />

From toughy to Tuffy, the admen cover all their<br />

bases. <strong>The</strong>y convey the durability <strong>of</strong> Rh<strong>in</strong>o-

Keith Ward<br />

Armstrong Rh<strong>in</strong>o-Flex Tires, 1953<br />

Flex tires and employ a charismatic image <strong>of</strong> an<br />

animal to ensure likeability.<br />

So where is the animal <strong>in</strong> this animal ad?<br />

Why not just depict a real rh<strong>in</strong>o look<strong>in</strong>g as if he<br />

were about to charge the viewer? Would that not<br />

convey toughness? Perhaps Armstrong could not<br />

commit to a realistic rh<strong>in</strong>oceros representation<br />

because it would be too real. <strong>The</strong> destruction <strong>of</strong><br />

rh<strong>in</strong>oceros habitat, <strong>in</strong> part for rubber plantations,<br />

96<br />

decreased rh<strong>in</strong>o numbers throughout the<br />

twentieth century.[i] Thus, Armstrong had to<br />

separate product from its place <strong>of</strong> orig<strong>in</strong>. <strong>The</strong><br />

rh<strong>in</strong>o image, perhaps unwitt<strong>in</strong>gly, is both tribute<br />

and façade. By not show<strong>in</strong>g anyth<strong>in</strong>g resembl<strong>in</strong>g<br />

a real rh<strong>in</strong>o, consumers disassociate product and<br />

place. Yet the product itself is a tribute to the<br />

genius <strong>of</strong> nature, want<strong>in</strong>g to replicate the sk<strong>in</strong> <strong>of</strong> a<br />

rh<strong>in</strong>o as <strong>in</strong>dustrial product.

Referr<strong>in</strong>g to real rh<strong>in</strong>os might have also forced<br />

Armstrong to confront the actual vulnerability <strong>of</strong><br />

the species. Rh<strong>in</strong>oceroses may have tough sk<strong>in</strong><br />

and confrontational attitudes (though their<br />

charges are usually bluffs), but they are<br />

<strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>gly unable to survive <strong>in</strong> the wild. <strong>The</strong>y are<br />

extremely susceptible to environmental changes,<br />

breed slowly, and despite legal protections suffer<br />

from excessive poach<strong>in</strong>g. What is most strik<strong>in</strong>g<br />

about this advertisement is that it promises traits-longevity,<br />

durability--that rh<strong>in</strong>os, <strong>in</strong> fact, do not<br />

possess. <strong>The</strong> irony is further evident <strong>in</strong> the ad’s<br />

subtitle: “unconditionally guaranteed!” What can<br />

a vulnerable animal guarantee? <strong>The</strong> ad is ripe<br />

with denial about the destructive relationship<br />

between nature and technology.<br />

Notes<br />

[i] D<strong>in</strong>erste<strong>in</strong>, Eric 2003. <strong>The</strong> Return <strong>of</strong> the Unicorns: <strong>The</strong> Natural History<br />

and Conservation <strong>of</strong> the Greater One-Horned Rh<strong>in</strong>oceros. New York:<br />

Columbia University Press and Mart<strong>in</strong>, Esmond and Chryssee Bradley<br />

1981. Run Rh<strong>in</strong>o Run. London: Chatto & W<strong>in</strong>dus.<br />

Kelly Enright is the author <strong>of</strong><strong>The</strong> Maximum <strong>of</strong> Wilderness: <strong>The</strong> Jungle <strong>in</strong><br />

the American Imag<strong>in</strong>ation, Osa & Mart<strong>in</strong>: For the Love <strong>of</strong> Adventure,<br />

and Rh<strong>in</strong>oceros. She has a doctorate <strong>in</strong> American history and a<br />

master’s <strong>in</strong> museum anthropology. Her work focuses on portrayals <strong>of</strong><br />

nature <strong>in</strong> American culture, human-animal relationships, museums,<br />

explorations, and travels.<br />


B ad Marriage, Quick Divorce.<br />

<strong>The</strong> above subtitle from a paper by Marc Sag<strong>of</strong>f<br />

(1984) summarizes the state, then and now, <strong>of</strong><br />

the relationship between the animal rights<br />

community and those concerned with the<br />

recovery and protection <strong>of</strong> endangered species.<br />

Accusations <strong>of</strong> flawed views and unreasonable<br />

behaviour flow both ways, reflect<strong>in</strong>g seem<strong>in</strong>gly<br />

irreconcilable values and ways <strong>of</strong> see<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

Different Worlds<br />

For the biologist <strong>in</strong>terested <strong>in</strong> wildlife and habitat<br />

conservation, animal rights advocates are<br />

irresponsible, s<strong>in</strong>gle issue activists who have failed<br />

to take on the issue <strong>of</strong> species ext<strong>in</strong>ction and who<br />

embark on emotionally driven activities without<br />

due consideration <strong>of</strong> their consequences. For<br />

<strong>in</strong>stance, the “liberation” <strong>of</strong> thousands <strong>of</strong> farmed<br />

animals (such as m<strong>in</strong>k) contributes to the already<br />

precipitous decl<strong>in</strong>e to near ext<strong>in</strong>ction <strong>of</strong> native<br />

species. Almost total opposition to captive<br />

breed<strong>in</strong>g and scientific research on animals<br />

harms, <strong>in</strong> the long run, the chances <strong>of</strong> species<br />




<strong>The</strong> visual cultures manifested <strong>in</strong> the advertis<strong>in</strong>g and communication activities <strong>of</strong> animal rights activists and those<br />

concerned with the conservation <strong>of</strong> species may be counter-productive, creat<strong>in</strong>g an ever-<strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>g cultural<br />

distance between the human and the animal. By cont<strong>in</strong>u<strong>in</strong>g to position animals as subjugated, exploitable others,<br />

or as creatures that belong <strong>in</strong> a romanticized ‘nature’ separate from the human, communications campaigns may<br />

achieve effects that are contrary to those desired. <strong>The</strong> unashamed, cheaply voyeuristic nature <strong>of</strong> shock imagery<br />

may w<strong>in</strong> headl<strong>in</strong>es while worsen<strong>in</strong>g the overall position <strong>of</strong> the animal <strong>in</strong> human culture. We <strong>of</strong>fer an alternative<br />

way <strong>of</strong> th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g about visual communication concern<strong>in</strong>g animals – one that is focused on enhanc<strong>in</strong>g a sense <strong>of</strong><br />

k<strong>in</strong>ship with animals. Based on empirical evidence, we suggest that cont<strong>in</strong>ued progress both <strong>in</strong> conservation and<br />

<strong>in</strong> animal rights does not depend on cont<strong>in</strong>ued castigation <strong>of</strong> the human but rather on embedd<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> our cultures<br />

the type <strong>of</strong> human-animal relationship on which positive change can be built.<br />

Text by Joe Zammit-Lucia and L<strong>in</strong>da Kal<strong>of</strong><br />

98<br />

survival. <strong>The</strong> animal rights focus on sentience as<br />

the ma<strong>in</strong> criterion for award<strong>in</strong>g rights to animals<br />

leads to the follow<strong>in</strong>g position: “What the rights<br />

view denies, at least <strong>in</strong> its current articulation, is<br />

that plants and <strong>in</strong>sects are ‘subjects-<strong>of</strong>-a-life;’ and<br />

it denies as well that these forms <strong>of</strong> life have been<br />

shown to have any rights, <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g a right to<br />

survival” (Regan 2004, xl) – a position that is<br />

anathema to the conservation biologist and the<br />

environmental philosopher.<br />

For the animal rights advocate, on the<br />

other hand, conservationists are more concerned<br />

with science and with abstract technical<br />

concepts such as “species” and “ecosystems”<br />

than they are with the actual animals. <strong>The</strong><br />

keep<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> animals <strong>in</strong> captivity, the chas<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

sedat<strong>in</strong>g, tagg<strong>in</strong>g, biopsy-<strong>in</strong>g and constant<br />

study<strong>in</strong>g, monitor<strong>in</strong>g and otherwise harass<strong>in</strong>g<br />

animals <strong>in</strong> the wild causes pa<strong>in</strong> and suffer<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

subord<strong>in</strong>at<strong>in</strong>g the very real everyday lives <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>in</strong>dividual animals to <strong>in</strong>tangible and uncerta<strong>in</strong><br />

species and ecosystem benefit – not to mention<br />

that a significant proportion <strong>of</strong> studies are <strong>of</strong><br />

doubtful benefit to the animals themselves, but<br />

rather serve either to feed the publication<br />

requirements <strong>of</strong> the <strong>in</strong>volved researchers or the

perpetuation <strong>of</strong> the self image <strong>of</strong> the<br />

conservation biologist as <strong>in</strong>trepid field explorer.<br />

<strong>The</strong> sanctioned cull<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> animals <strong>in</strong> the <strong>in</strong>terests<br />

<strong>of</strong> preserv<strong>in</strong>g “ecosystem <strong>in</strong>tegrity” is difficult to<br />

reconcile with the rights view. <strong>The</strong> animal rightist<br />

would also argue that beyond abstract and farfrom-conv<strong>in</strong>c<strong>in</strong>g<br />

arguments, the wildlife<br />

conservation community has, to date, failed to<br />

come up with persuasive ethical and<br />

philosophical underp<strong>in</strong>n<strong>in</strong>gs for the preservation<br />

<strong>of</strong> endangered species. Absent such<br />

underp<strong>in</strong>n<strong>in</strong>gs, it is unacceptable to subord<strong>in</strong>ate<br />

the rights <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>dividual animals to abstract and<br />

<strong>in</strong>tangible concepts.<br />

Our aim <strong>in</strong> this paper is not to enter <strong>in</strong>to, or<br />

take sides <strong>in</strong>, the above debate. Rather, our<br />

<strong>in</strong>tention is to show that, <strong>in</strong> spite <strong>of</strong> fundamentally<br />

different underly<strong>in</strong>g values, there are similarities <strong>in</strong><br />

the visual cultures <strong>of</strong> animal rights activists and<br />

those concerned with the preservation <strong>of</strong> natural<br />

species and spaces, and that, <strong>in</strong> both cases,<br />

those visual cultures may be counterproductive to<br />

their goals <strong>of</strong> persuasion. Based on the results <strong>of</strong> a<br />

study <strong>of</strong> animal imagery, we <strong>of</strong>fer an alternative<br />

approach to visual communication that, we<br />

believe, can have important positive implications<br />

for human-animal relationships to the benefit <strong>of</strong><br />

both animal rights advocacy and endangered<br />

species preservation and recovery.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Human vs. <strong>The</strong> Animal<br />

<strong>The</strong> narratives and visual cultures <strong>of</strong> animal rights<br />

groups and wildlife conservation groups reveal<br />

similar attitudes about the relationship between<br />

humans and other animals. Much <strong>of</strong> the visual<br />

99<br />

language adopted by animal rights groups<br />

highlights the sorry plight <strong>of</strong> the animal at the<br />

hands <strong>of</strong> the human. Images are largely<br />

designed to be distress<strong>in</strong>g to the viewer and to<br />

engender support through a comb<strong>in</strong>ation <strong>of</strong><br />

outrage and guilt. This is a visual culture that<br />

Fig. 1. <strong>The</strong> Humane Society International<br />

Seal slaughter. Image courtesy <strong>of</strong> <strong>The</strong> Humane Society<br />

International<br />

Fig. 2. & 3.<br />

Human destruction <strong>of</strong> Indonesian forests as the cause <strong>of</strong> orphan<strong>in</strong>g orangutans and lead<strong>in</strong>g to their decl<strong>in</strong>e towards ext<strong>in</strong>ction. Left: Photography by<br />

David Gilbert, Ra<strong>in</strong>forest Action Network (Creative Commons). Right: Photography by Lam Thuy Vo (Creative Commons)

Fig. 4. Joe Zammit-Lucia<br />

I Am Series #1, photography, 2007 Joe Zammit-Lucia<br />

creates a divisive dichotomy – and a distance –<br />

between the Human and the Animal: the Human<br />

as the callous aggressor; the Animal as the<br />

helpless victim.<br />

A similar set <strong>of</strong> pr<strong>in</strong>ciples governs the<br />

conservationist’s visual culture. Here the Animal<br />

occupies an idyllically untamed space – the<br />

animal “runn<strong>in</strong>g free <strong>in</strong> our imag<strong>in</strong>ary and<br />

mythical wild” (Baker 1993, 294). This is part <strong>of</strong> a<br />

romanticized vision <strong>of</strong> a “<strong>Nature</strong>” that is separate<br />

from <strong>Culture</strong>, with the<br />

Human as the <strong>in</strong>truder, aggressor and destroyer<br />

<strong>of</strong> spaces and species that need to be<br />

protected.<br />

While com<strong>in</strong>g at the issues from almost<br />

opposite poles, the animal rights and the wildlife<br />

conservation movements end up <strong>in</strong> essentially<br />

the same place. <strong>The</strong> animal is portrayed as<br />

someth<strong>in</strong>g separate and distant from the human<br />

– <strong>in</strong> one case separate as a captive or<br />

persecuted victim, <strong>in</strong> the other, separate as part<br />

<strong>of</strong> a romanticised nature – and, <strong>in</strong> both cases, a<br />

casualty <strong>of</strong> an undesirable human disposition and<br />

reprehensible human activity.<br />

100<br />

Is this visual culture the optimal way to encourage<br />

the sort <strong>of</strong> human-animal relationships that might<br />

lead to altered human behaviours that br<strong>in</strong>g<br />

unnecessary pa<strong>in</strong> and suffer<strong>in</strong>g to other animals?<br />

Us<strong>in</strong>g Animal Portraiture<br />

To address this question, we exam<strong>in</strong>ed a different<br />

approach to animal representation and the<br />

impact that approach has on viewers. “Animal<br />

Portraiture” is a broad term that can cover a<br />

multitude <strong>of</strong> artistic approaches, each hav<strong>in</strong>g<br />

potentially different effects on viewers. We<br />

evaluated the specific approach taken to animal<br />

portraiture by photographic artist Joe Zammit-<br />

Lucia. Zammit-Lucia explores the use <strong>of</strong> animal<br />

portraits to exam<strong>in</strong>e the human ability to see<br />

animals as <strong>in</strong>dividuals with character and<br />

personality, rather than as generic specimens <strong>of</strong><br />

species (see also Zammit-Lucia 2008a). Rather<br />

than traditional animal imagery, the artist uses, as<br />

his start<strong>in</strong>g po<strong>in</strong>t, the techniques <strong>of</strong> classical<br />

human studio portraiture and applies them to<br />


<strong>The</strong> Human Portrait<br />

Portraiture is deeply embedded <strong>in</strong> human culture.<br />

When view<strong>in</strong>g a human portrait, we reflexively<br />

project imag<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>gs <strong>of</strong> personality onto the subject<br />

portrayed. We “see” characteristics like wisdom,<br />

vulnerability, power, glamour, and so forth,<br />

depend<strong>in</strong>g on the particular portrait. <strong>The</strong> portrait<br />

has been used over the ages as a powerful<br />

propaganda tool. From the sculpted portraits <strong>of</strong><br />

Roman emperors, to the recent, and now<br />

<strong>in</strong>famous, Shepard Fairey/Associated Press “Hope”<br />

image <strong>of</strong> presidential candidate Barack Obama,<br />

the portrait has been used to create strong,<br />

positive images <strong>of</strong> the subject portrayed. In<br />

achiev<strong>in</strong>g such positive projections, the physical<br />

likeness <strong>of</strong> the portrait to the subject is a small<br />

and largely <strong>in</strong>significant part <strong>of</strong> the whole. Rather<br />

it is the overall form and content <strong>of</strong> the portrait<br />

that constitute the repository <strong>of</strong> the message<br />

be<strong>in</strong>g conveyed.<br />

For <strong>in</strong>stance, <strong>in</strong> the Obama “Hope”<br />

poster, the message is largely conveyed by the<br />

overall composition <strong>of</strong> the image. <strong>The</strong> central<br />

position<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> the portrait comb<strong>in</strong>es with the tilted<br />

stance <strong>of</strong> the face to create a diagonal<br />

composition that leads to a feel<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> strength<br />

and dynamism (Condit, 2010). <strong>The</strong> use <strong>of</strong><br />

repeat<strong>in</strong>g blocks <strong>of</strong> red and blue not only<br />

heighten the diagonal composition, but are used<br />

to evoke the American flag and, <strong>in</strong> Fairey’s own<br />

words, “convey the idea <strong>of</strong> blue and red states,<br />

Democrats and Republicans, converg<strong>in</strong>g” (Fairey<br />

and Gross, 2009, p7).<br />

Context, on the other hand, conveys the<br />

message <strong>in</strong> Jacques-Louis David’s famous<br />

“Bonaparte Cross<strong>in</strong>g the Great St Bernard<br />

Pass.” Here Napoleon’s “greatness” is implied as<br />

he follows <strong>in</strong> the footsteps <strong>of</strong> Hannibal and<br />

Charlemagne - the unstoppable hero on a<br />

symbolic white horse (Welch, 2005).<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>in</strong>dividuality, or what Pope-Hennessy<br />

(1979) describes as “<strong>The</strong> Cult <strong>of</strong> Personality” that<br />

we read <strong>in</strong> a portrait, is not a result <strong>of</strong> physical<br />

likeness, but is transmitted through symbolism –<br />

be that symbolism conta<strong>in</strong>ed <strong>in</strong> physiognomic<br />

codes and ciphers; <strong>in</strong> the carriage, bear<strong>in</strong>g or<br />

gestures <strong>of</strong> the <strong>in</strong>dividual portrayed; or <strong>in</strong> the<br />

ancillary elements <strong>of</strong> dress, jewellery, context, or<br />

allegorical or other symbols.<br />

Animal Imagery<br />

Animal images can also create strong, positive<br />

values. For example, experimental work has<br />

established that animal “attractiveness” <strong>in</strong>creases<br />

101<br />

Fig. 5. Shepard Fairey<br />

Hope, 2008 Fairey/Garcia<br />

people’s support for protection and conservation.<br />

More support is expressed for large animals and<br />

those who resemble humans (Gunnthorsdottir<br />

2009). However, traditionally, “animal art” has<br />

been about humans not about animals. In large<br />

part, animals have been shown as symbolic<br />

icons, as decorative items, or as human<br />

companions. “Portraits” <strong>of</strong> companion animals or<br />

work<strong>in</strong>g animals provide a commentary on<br />

human achievement or human possession. In<br />

contemporary art, many artists are concerned<br />

with social commentary. Aga<strong>in</strong>, much <strong>of</strong> this<br />

engages with human behaviours <strong>in</strong> relation to<br />

animals, and with human social and cultural<br />

frameworks as they affect animals rather than with<br />

the essence <strong>of</strong> the animal.<br />

<strong>The</strong> animal becomes more central <strong>in</strong><br />

genres such as wildlife photography, wildlife<br />

illustration, and <strong>in</strong> art which is concerned with the<br />

natural world. Here the animal is predom<strong>in</strong>ant,<br />

but <strong>in</strong> a way that is detached from the human.<br />

Scientific illustration objectifies the animal as a<br />

subject <strong>of</strong> study, whereas wildlife photography,<br />

while glorify<strong>in</strong>g the animal, treats him as a

Fig. 6. Joe Zammit-Lucia<br />

#2, photography, 2008 Joe Zammit-Lucia<br />

specimen <strong>of</strong> species and, as we shall see later,<br />

places him or her <strong>in</strong> a “nature” that is separate<br />

from the human.<br />

Few artists depict animals as “specific<br />

<strong>in</strong>dividuals.” Instead they “use animals as<br />

metaphors or symbols for the human condition,<br />

or as generic signifiers for the natural world” (Watt<br />

2010, 77). In fact, “most forms <strong>of</strong> contemporary<br />

animal representation, whether or not <strong>in</strong> lensbased<br />

media, fail effectively to communicate an<br />

animal’s <strong>in</strong>dividuality, s<strong>in</strong>gularity or particularity”<br />

(Baker 2000, 179) [1] .<br />

Zammit-Lucia’s animal art focuses<br />

unashamedly on animals as unique <strong>in</strong>dividuals <strong>in</strong><br />

the same way as the human studio portrait<br />

focuses on the <strong>in</strong>dividual portrayed. <strong>The</strong> artist’s<br />

hypothesis is that our embedded, reflexive<br />

reaction to human portraiture can be turned to<br />

an advantage when used <strong>in</strong> animal<br />

representation. Focus<strong>in</strong>g largely on threatened or<br />

endangered species, the artist adopts a<br />

representational approach that (i) alters the<br />

context <strong>in</strong> which the animal is presented (i.e., a<br />

studio-like sett<strong>in</strong>g vs. <strong>in</strong> the wild or <strong>in</strong> a captive<br />

102<br />

sett<strong>in</strong>g), and (ii) frames the animal representation<br />

to mimic a human studio portrait (i.e., <strong>in</strong> a way<br />

that is culturally more <strong>of</strong>ten associated with<br />

human representation). <strong>The</strong> idea <strong>of</strong> animal<br />

<strong>in</strong>dividuality <strong>in</strong> these images, therefore, does not<br />

depend exclusively (nor even primarily) on the<br />

representational form <strong>of</strong> the animal – the<br />

recognition <strong>of</strong> the specific features <strong>of</strong> the<br />

<strong>in</strong>dividual animal – but rather on the<br />

appropriation <strong>of</strong> the general style <strong>of</strong> the human<br />

studio portrait and the impact <strong>of</strong> that style on the<br />

viewer’s spontaneous reactions to the imagery.<br />

This approach builds on the fundamentals <strong>of</strong><br />

human portraiture where, as we have discussed<br />

above, <strong>in</strong>dividuality, personality and status are not<br />

communicated through uniqueness <strong>of</strong> features,<br />

but through the overall form, composition,<br />

context, and other features <strong>of</strong> the complete<br />

portrait.<br />

Zammit-Lucia uses other devices to<br />

<strong>in</strong>fluence the subject-viewer <strong>in</strong>teraction. Direct<br />

eye contact is common and can create a<br />

tension between the observed and the observer<br />

<strong>in</strong> the viewer-portrait <strong>in</strong>teraction. <strong>The</strong> subject’s

Fig. 7. Joe Zammit-Lucia<br />

Hunted, photography, 2008 Joe Zammit-Lucia<br />

stance is also chosen to allow viewers to project<br />

character and personality on the <strong>in</strong>dividual<br />

animal portrayed, while the overall composition –<br />

central composition or, alternatively, the use <strong>of</strong><br />

large negative spaces – are used to enhance<br />

visual impact, substitut<strong>in</strong>g for the ancillary<br />

elements conta<strong>in</strong>ed <strong>in</strong> human portraiture.<br />

A further important element dist<strong>in</strong>guishes<br />

animal portraiture from human portraiture: human<br />

portraiture suffers from a strong undercurrent <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>in</strong>authenticity, driven by the fact that the subject<br />

tends to engage <strong>in</strong> a performance. As Roland<br />

Barthes (1981) puts it: “I do not stop imitat<strong>in</strong>g<br />

myself, and because <strong>of</strong> this, each time I am (or<br />

let myself be) photographed, I <strong>in</strong>variably suffer<br />

from a sensation <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>authenticity, sometimes <strong>of</strong><br />

imposture.” (p13-14). What has been variously<br />

described as “Fictions <strong>of</strong> the Pose” (Berger, 1994)<br />

or the “<strong>The</strong> <strong>The</strong>atre <strong>of</strong> the Face” (Kozl<strong>of</strong>f, 2007) is<br />

absent from the portrait <strong>of</strong> the animal. <strong>The</strong> animal<br />

is not complicit <strong>in</strong> the creation <strong>of</strong> his or her own<br />

image, thereby lend<strong>in</strong>g the portrait an<br />

unavoidable feel<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> authenticity absent from<br />

the human portrait.<br />

103<br />

Us<strong>in</strong>g this approach, Zammit-Lucia<br />

hypothesizes that such images emphasize the<br />

very animality <strong>of</strong> the subjects portrayed. <strong>The</strong><br />

imagery uses our own embedded cultural<br />

responses to human portraiture to enhance the<br />

viewer’s sense <strong>of</strong> k<strong>in</strong>ship with animals, while<br />

ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g respect for the animal for what he or<br />

she is (Zammit-Lucia 2008b). In his artist’s<br />

statement, Zammit-Lucia (2010) states:<br />

In creat<strong>in</strong>g images <strong>of</strong> animals, I have<br />

little <strong>in</strong>terest <strong>in</strong> what the animal looks<br />

like; <strong>in</strong> the animal merely as observed<br />

object. Rather my <strong>in</strong>terest is <strong>in</strong> the<br />

deeper reality <strong>of</strong> what the animal<br />

might possibly be. Through these<br />

images, I am <strong>in</strong>terested <strong>in</strong> explor<strong>in</strong>g<br />

questions: How do I feel <strong>in</strong> relation to<br />

this animal? Can I relate to this animal<br />

as an <strong>in</strong>dividual rather than as a mere<br />

specimen <strong>of</strong> species? And, more<br />

<strong>in</strong>terest<strong>in</strong>gly, what could be the<br />

experience <strong>of</strong> be<strong>in</strong>g this animal?

Fig. 8. Joe Zammit-Lucia<br />

Untitled, photography, 2010 Joe Zammit-Lucia<br />

Does it Work?<br />

We were <strong>in</strong>terested <strong>in</strong> test<strong>in</strong>g whether the artist’s<br />

hypotheses were borne out when viewers<br />

<strong>in</strong>teracted with these animal portraits. While<br />

animal visual imagery has been the focus <strong>of</strong> a<br />

substantial body <strong>of</strong> research, to our knowledge<br />

there are no studies that have collected<br />

empirical data on whether animal visual imagery<br />

has the potential to change cultural perceptions<br />

<strong>of</strong> animals. Indeed, given the widespread use <strong>of</strong><br />

visual material to persuade audiences to change<br />

attitudes and behaviours, it is surpris<strong>in</strong>g that there<br />

is a paucity <strong>of</strong> research on the impact <strong>of</strong> visual<br />

material on the public’s view <strong>of</strong> any s<strong>in</strong>gle issue<br />

(J<strong>of</strong>fe 2008). Our study was designed to fill some<br />

<strong>of</strong> the gap <strong>in</strong> our knowledge <strong>of</strong> the impact <strong>of</strong><br />

animal imagery on viewers’ perceptions <strong>of</strong><br />

animals. We evaluated visitor experiences <strong>of</strong> the<br />

artist’s work mounted as an exhibit entitled Monde<br />

Sauvage: Regards et Emotions, which was<br />

displayed dur<strong>in</strong>g Fall 2008 and W<strong>in</strong>ter 2009 at the<br />

National Museum <strong>of</strong> Natural History <strong>in</strong> Paris,<br />

France. <strong>The</strong> detailed methodology and<br />

104<br />

approach to the study have been described<br />

elsewhere (Kal<strong>of</strong>, Zammit-Lucia and Kelly, 2011).<br />

Here we focus on the ma<strong>in</strong> f<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>gs and their<br />

potential implications for animal rights and other<br />

forms <strong>of</strong> animal imagery.<br />

Our f<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>gs showed that the widespread<br />

traditional imagery and methods <strong>of</strong><br />

communication about endangered species <strong>in</strong><br />

Western <strong>Culture</strong> do seem to convey the<br />

expected messages. Prior to view<strong>in</strong>g the animal<br />

portraiture exhibit, visitors def<strong>in</strong>ed animals<br />

primarily as wild, free and sometimes violent and<br />

dangerous creatures that are part <strong>of</strong> “<strong>Nature</strong>.”<br />

Pre-exhibit, the thematic cluster <strong>of</strong> “<strong>Nature</strong>,”<br />

“Wild/Free” and “Violence” accounted for 60% <strong>of</strong><br />

respondents’ overall perceptions <strong>of</strong> the Animal.<br />

After view<strong>in</strong>g the exhibit, visitors gave a<br />

different mean<strong>in</strong>g to the word “Animal”<br />

compared to the mean<strong>in</strong>gs they expressed<br />

before enter<strong>in</strong>g the exhibit. <strong>The</strong> biggest s<strong>in</strong>gle<br />

change was seen <strong>in</strong> the significant <strong>in</strong>crease <strong>in</strong> the<br />

attribution <strong>of</strong> “Personality” to animals. However,<br />

the impact <strong>of</strong> this artwork was seem<strong>in</strong>gly much<br />

broader than the <strong>in</strong>creased attribution <strong>of</strong>

Fig. 9.<br />

Animal Portraiture Exhibit Flyer Image courtesy Muséum<br />

national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris<br />

.<br />

personality to the concept <strong>of</strong> “Animal.” We saw a<br />

wholesale shift from the Animal be<strong>in</strong>g perceived<br />

as someth<strong>in</strong>g wild, natural and hostile – and<br />

therefore separate from the Human – to a<br />

perception <strong>of</strong> closeness and k<strong>in</strong>ship between<br />

animal and human. Post-exhibit, the relevance to<br />

visitors <strong>of</strong> the thematic cluster <strong>of</strong> “<strong>Nature</strong>,”<br />

“Wild/Free” and “Violence” fell to 25% from the<br />

pre-exhibit level <strong>of</strong> 60%. Conversely, the<br />

comb<strong>in</strong>ation <strong>of</strong> “Personality,” “K<strong>in</strong>ship” and<br />

“Vulnerable” now accounted for a full 75% <strong>of</strong> the<br />

aggregate <strong>in</strong>tensity scores (a measure <strong>of</strong> the<br />

depth and emotion <strong>in</strong> the visitors’ perception <strong>of</strong><br />

“Animal” based on the degree <strong>of</strong> elaboration and<br />

detail given <strong>in</strong> their response). <strong>The</strong>se changes<br />

suggest that the effect <strong>of</strong> the exhibit went beyond<br />

isolated changes <strong>in</strong> perceptions around <strong>in</strong>dividual<br />

themes, to changes <strong>in</strong> the overall cultural<br />

perception <strong>of</strong> the Animal with possible<br />

implications for the nature <strong>of</strong> the relationship<br />

between the Human and the Animal.<br />

105<br />

Implications for Animal Rights and<br />

Conversation Imagery<br />

In the case <strong>of</strong> endangered animals, we believe<br />

that, <strong>in</strong> the long run, it is counterproductive to<br />

perpetuate a visual culture that portrays animals<br />

as wild, free creatures who are part <strong>of</strong> a <strong>Nature</strong><br />

that is not only separate, but <strong>in</strong> conflict with<br />

human culture. We believe that this simply<br />

embeds the classical Cartesian dichotomy <strong>of</strong> the<br />

animal as <strong>in</strong>ferior “other,” creat<strong>in</strong>g a sense <strong>of</strong><br />

distance between the Human and the Animal – a<br />

sense <strong>of</strong> distance that is <strong>in</strong>creased further by the<br />

scientism that is so prevalent <strong>in</strong> the conservation<br />

culture.<br />

We suggest that this dualism between the<br />

Human and the Natural has no productive<br />

future. Successful conservation efforts can only<br />

be built on a greater sense <strong>of</strong> closeness and<br />

k<strong>in</strong>ship between the Human and the Animal (and<br />

the Natural) – a sense <strong>of</strong> k<strong>in</strong>ship that fosters<br />

support for expanded conservation efforts and<br />

sees such efforts <strong>in</strong> a positive cultural light, rather<br />

than as the result <strong>of</strong> the job-kill<strong>in</strong>g, economystifl<strong>in</strong>g<br />

efforts <strong>of</strong> an environmental lobby wedded<br />

to the politics <strong>of</strong> “No.”<br />

<strong>The</strong>re are similar questions to be<br />

considered <strong>in</strong> evaluat<strong>in</strong>g the long-term<br />

effectiveness <strong>of</strong> the visual culture associated with<br />

animal rights. <strong>The</strong>re is little doubt that the heartrend<strong>in</strong>g<br />

images that form the staple diet <strong>of</strong><br />

animal rights groups represent effective fund<br />

rais<strong>in</strong>g fodder. Indeed, research has found that<br />

animal rights protestors are directly recruited to<br />

the animal rights agenda by moral shocks from<br />

visual imagery (Jasper and Poulsen 1995), and<br />

empirical work confirms that animal advocacy<br />

messages <strong>in</strong>tensify pre-exist<strong>in</strong>g dispositions toward<br />

animals and animal abusers (Scudder and Mills<br />

2009). Animal rights advocacy images are based<br />

on good versus evil, with clubbed baby seals and<br />

neurotic monkeys presented as the <strong>in</strong>nocent<br />

victims <strong>of</strong> evil. Victimized animals who are furry,<br />

whimper<strong>in</strong>g, cry<strong>in</strong>g, and spill<strong>in</strong>g red blood elicited<br />

more sympathy because viewers could more<br />

easily anthropomorphize them (Jasper 1997).<br />

Yet, animal rights organizations that use<br />

images <strong>of</strong> animal abuse <strong>in</strong> their own campaigns<br />

have also been critical <strong>of</strong> pictur<strong>in</strong>g animal<br />

suffer<strong>in</strong>g when they consider it gratuitous or when<br />

they do not feel that the context justifies it. In<br />

2008, the artist Adel Abdessemed exhibited a<br />

video that <strong>in</strong>cluded footage <strong>of</strong> six animals be<strong>in</strong>g<br />

bludgeoned to death with a sledgehammer on a<br />

farm <strong>in</strong> Mexico. His exhibition was closed down<br />

after protests from animal rights groups (Watt

2010). <strong>The</strong> web site for People for the Ethical<br />

Treatment <strong>of</strong> <strong>Animals</strong> (PETA) encourages people<br />

to take action aga<strong>in</strong>st portrayals <strong>of</strong> animal cruelty<br />

on the <strong>in</strong>ternet, but makes a clear dist<strong>in</strong>ction<br />

between animal cruelty imagery that is<br />

“educational, depict<strong>in</strong>g the cruel beh<strong>in</strong>d-thescenes<br />

reality <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>dustries that thrive on animal<br />

exploitation and abuse” and “(o)ther sources<br />

(that) are merely depict<strong>in</strong>g cruelty for shock<br />

value” (PETA, 2011). When is shock advocacy<br />

legitimately “educational?” When does art that<br />

depicts animal cruelty as part <strong>of</strong> its social<br />

commentary become simply gratuitous? Surely it<br />

is not simply a question <strong>of</strong> who is do<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

dissem<strong>in</strong>ation that determ<strong>in</strong>es the acceptability<br />

<strong>of</strong> shock imagery.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re is no doubt that pictur<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

suffer<strong>in</strong>g animal has legitimacy as part <strong>of</strong> what<br />

we might call <strong>in</strong>vestigative journalism. Expos<strong>in</strong>g –<br />

and document<strong>in</strong>g – animal abuse must be an<br />

essential component <strong>of</strong> the work <strong>of</strong> animal rights<br />

organizations. But it is a big step from that to<br />

creat<strong>in</strong>g a visual monoculture <strong>of</strong> grisly imagery<br />

and justify<strong>in</strong>g its widespread dissem<strong>in</strong>ation as<br />

educational. What are the long-term effects <strong>of</strong><br />

these shock advocacy images on the cultural<br />

relationship between the human and the animal<br />

– particularly now that exposure to acts <strong>of</strong> animal<br />

cruelty has moved beyond the still image to the<br />

almost ubiquitously available graphic video? In<br />

the context <strong>of</strong> exhibit<strong>in</strong>g captive animals <strong>in</strong> a zoo<br />

sett<strong>in</strong>g, it has been argued that such a sett<strong>in</strong>g<br />

only serves to conv<strong>in</strong>ce visitors that humans<br />

106<br />

dom<strong>in</strong>ate the natural world (Kellert, 1997) and<br />

substantiates “the dualism at the very orig<strong>in</strong> <strong>of</strong> the<br />

relation between man and animal” (Berger 1980,<br />

28). Is this effect also possible when we are<br />

bombarded with constant imagery show<strong>in</strong>g<br />

human dom<strong>in</strong>ation <strong>of</strong> animals <strong>in</strong> other contexts –<br />

such as images <strong>of</strong> factory farm<strong>in</strong>g, seal culls, or<br />

dog fight<strong>in</strong>g? Could these images serve to<br />

underm<strong>in</strong>e further the stand<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> animals <strong>in</strong><br />

human culture by confirm<strong>in</strong>g them as the objects<br />

<strong>of</strong> human subjugation, enterta<strong>in</strong>ment and<br />

cruelty?<br />

It could be argued that generat<strong>in</strong>g<br />

shock<strong>in</strong>g visual imagery is the easy option. It takes<br />

little thought and gets attention – and sometimes<br />

headl<strong>in</strong>es – simply by its sheer awfulness. Yet it<br />

does so because <strong>of</strong> its unashamed, cheaply<br />

voyeuristic nature. To paraphrase Randy<br />

Malamud’s commentary about the zoo-go<strong>in</strong>g<br />

experience (1998), these images <strong>of</strong> animal<br />

abuse can be considered m<strong>in</strong>imally imag<strong>in</strong>ative,<br />

cheaply vicarious and <strong>in</strong>hibitive, rather than<br />

generative <strong>of</strong> a positive experience <strong>of</strong> the animal<br />

and its valued place <strong>in</strong> human culture. Further,<br />

accord<strong>in</strong>g to Sontag (2003, 109) “our capacity to<br />

respond to our experiences with emotional<br />

freshness and ethical pert<strong>in</strong>ence is be<strong>in</strong>g sapped<br />

by the relentless diffusion <strong>of</strong> vulgar and appall<strong>in</strong>g<br />