This PETA ad was intended to be televised during the 43rd Super Bowl but was banned due to its tasteless objectification of women. In an effort to seduce men into becoming vegetarians, women play with vegetables in a sexually provocative manner. The lack of dialogue and simple format enhances the ad’s sexual tone by directing attention to nonverbal communication. The women are being exploited as “eye candy,” to reinforce an unsubstantiated claim that vegetarianism heightens sexual desire and performance. This ad not only demeans women but misrepresents vegetarianism, insulting both groups.
This commercial was directed towards men watching the Super Bowl and designed to overcome macho resistance to vegetarianism. For decades, advertisers feature sexy women in ads to entice buyers or sell concepts. This strategy is often effective as it taps into our culture’s tradition of objectifying women, presenting them as part-objects whose sole purpose is to fulfill the sexual desire of men. The woman “is simply what man decrees…she appears to the male as a sexual being. For him she is sex–absolute sex, no less” (Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, 1949). As a female vegetarian, I am offended that PETA has opted to promote this dietary choice by capitalizing on gender stereotypes rather than educating the public about its health benefits.