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Controversial Fish Billboard Rejected

Written by PETA | July 30, 2007

I just got word from our media department that PETA’s latest billboard, which shows a patient in a Japanese hospital who suffered brain damage from mercury that was traced to contaminated fish, along with the tagline “Extreme Case of Mercury Poisoning: How Much Is in Your Fish?” was banned in Providence by all three of the city’s outdoor advertisers. CBS Outdoor Mall sent PETA the following rejection note: “We won’t take anything from PETA that depicts cruelty to animals, blood, disabled children, etc.” That certainly rules out a few of our billboards. The purpose of this particular ad was to warn consumers about the tragic consequences of mercury poisoning from eating fish and direct readers to a website where they can learn some of the following disturbing information:

  • Government studies show that eating just one can of tuna per week can increase a person’s mercury level to 30 percent above levels considered safe.
  • Mercury is known to cause severe health problems for humans, including brain damage, memory loss, tremors, and damage to a developing fetus.

Feel free to let me know what you think of this one.


Commenting is closed.
  • Ariel says:

    Hi Maya I am not entering into a debate I am simply stating what I believe and know to be true. I highly doubt that the entire public knows about mercury in fish. And MOST of the people who I know are not conscientious about what they consume nor do they care. But more than that I have no doubt whatsoever that EVERYONE knows the potential of brain and nerve damage which especially pertains to the ones who became the actual unfortunate victims. Yes they MIGHT have known and took their chances but… You can count me among the ones who arewere naive about the horrors of what mercury in fish can do because I didn’t know about it until well into my life. Years ago a lady who I know told me about her friend who ate a “Whaler” from Burger King. Her friend immediately thereafter became permanently and severly neurodamaged due to the mercury. I can’t agree that ALL people are cynical about PETA’s pictures because I know that the ones who roll their eyes etc. are the exact same types who do not want to accept the truth be it about circuses slaughterhouses and any other animalcruelty issue. I think they can be counted among the antianimal activists andor animal haters as we have just witnessed comments from the Vick situation. However it is a fact that animal rights’ activists speak at collegesuniversities across the country show actual “shocking” pictures and many many students became forever and VERY grateful for the activists bringing that education to them. Many many students even decided to become vegansvegetarians…not caught up in the moment but have written to the activists even months later telling them how much better they felt because they changed their diet habits. Reviewing the comments here from pro and con viewpoints about the billboard the commenters are giving their opinions. But being that medical science has proven the facts it is not an every day topic of conversation among the public. Therefore whether the public wants to accept scientific proof or not with the aid of PETA’s efforts by attempting to display a visual effect that was rejected then it would be very sad indeed when people come along and say “I wish I had known.” It is VERY sad that it would have reached out to many many people for the sake of their health and lives…and that is not being immature.

  • Maya says:

    Hi Ariel! No don’t apologize. I like a good debate LOL The problem is twofold 1. The public already knows about mercury in fish. This is not shocking. It’s just kinda immature. People always expect shocking images from PETA so they’ve lost their edge. People will just roll their eyes. The public will be cynical and think “there they go again”. That’s not education. 2. For every PETA there’s another group like the Center for Consumer Freedom who contradict PETA. Back and forth on and on. It’s very naiive to think the public has no idea about this stuff. They know. Give people some credit. What the public trusts is science. Show proof. The “shocking” images aren’t as shocking as everyone here thinks.

  • Ariel says:

    MIKE what are your definitions of “extremists” and “most intelligent people”? It seems to me that people who can’t deal with the truth feel better when they can define “truth” as “extreme.”…therefore people who present the truth with blatant facts are perceived to be “extremists.” I believe that the great numbers of people who would potentially be affected by not seeing this ad therefore not having the opportunity to be warned and cautious would be counted as an “extreme” amount of unfortunate victims. There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that the most intelligent people are by far not necessarily the ones who have all kinds of degrees and are in positions of status but the ones of any academic level and status who can accept the truth. As for the highlyeducated doctors among the most highly intelligent people professionally they are definitely not going to deny that mercury in fish can’t cause brain or neuro damage. Since medicine is not an exact science and everyone is unique it is not possible to predetermine what is a very toxic level of mercury in each individual. It is determined after the symptoms occur. As S. Trout indicated once again it all boils down to the almighty dollar. to MICHELE you are a TRUE and REAL animal rights activist!

  • Rory says:

    I think this discussion is selfresolving. Either PETA is right and we who fish andor eat fish will have our brains all turn to mush and cease to reproduce or those who refuse to eat fish andor other animal proteans will produce only more congenital idiots andor will cease to produce any viable offspring. IMHO the latter is more probable. PLEASE PETA People don’t eat ANY meat or fish. As a matter of fact please stop eating vegetable products too.

  • Michele says:

    I do not see what is wrong with the billboard. What’s the difference between that and a billboard showing a mangled car from a drunk driving accident? It makes people stop and think about things. I think that the people who are objecting are generally the ones who are too uncomfortable to face the truth. Just like I doubt any company would allow a billboard with graphic slaughterhouse images people would have to admit that the meat industry is WRONG.

  • S. Trout says:

    Of course Outdoor Mall rejected it. Too much pressure from the fishing industry. Ponder these words”It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his NOT understanding it.” Upton Sinclair

  • Ariel says:

    to Maya sorry but I disagree with you. Animal rights people KNOWING about this and then being found out NOT trying to get it out to the public is what would make animal rights people look bad. Allow me to elaborate animal rights people have a mission and a responsibility to get the message out in the most effective manner possible with as much respectful impact as possible. Otherwise how many people do you know would even think about reading or learning about it from other sources?

  • Ariel says:

    Pictures leave a more lasting impression than words. I hardly think that the family of that unfortunate child objected to his picture being on the billboard because I would like to think that they are warning other people about the same possible fate. Give them tremendous credit for their unselfish compassion towards others…which is quite the opposite of the billboard advertising companies who refused to post it…apparently because it seems they are more concerned about the outcries they would receive from the fishing industry rather than human health. Those who object to it on this website seem to find it disturbing within themselves to face the cold hard facts that should not be kept hidden and seem to want it sugarcoated. I know about what mercury from fish can do and I know of people who became severly affected by it but it never hit me this hard until I saw this picture and will now be outspoken about this subject. And some say PETA should be helping people??? Well folks here is a perfect example of it…and one of the illeffects of the humananimal relationship. And I agree with Kirsh Mian. No doubt those same ad companies would be the first ones to have billboards for RBBB circus with animals on them.

  • Mindy says:

    I myself like the ad but then again I am an unabashed tree hugging dirt worshipper Problem is though that most of the American public is more concerned about who’s Anna Nicole’s baby daddy or if Paris can get a manicure in prison. We as a country have sold our souls all for the sake of stability.People dislike change and they down right hate anything that threatens what they believe about the world. Perhaps a return to a soft sell approach to educating the public is in order. Even then Peta will still probably be portrayed as the villan.

  • Marcela Donato says:

    I love PETA but this ad is a little too much. It could traumatize a small child just by looking at it! Let’s try to tone it down a bit and still get the message across.

  • Khursh Mian says:

    So they won’t display anything depicting cruelty to animals? Right like I bet they accept money from companies that exploit them in the most cruelest of ways.

  • Cat R says:

    In agreement with some of the above comments my only real concern is whether or not the family had given permission for such an image to be used. If it was not then this alone would be the only reason why I would disagree with the picture being used. But as for the ‘message getting lost’ because of the image? That’s simply absurd. The image all but cries out what can occur because of mercury poisoning as well as how dire the situation is. Though numerical statistics can help really a picture is indeed worth a thousand words. Some people refuse to ‘get it’ unless they are forced with the image of such a tragedy. I’m sorry that such an image was rejected. It certainly got my attention and I used to be a hard core sushi lover!

  • Dan says:

    I don’t understand. According to the EPA it is very VERY important for your health to eat fish. It only warns to stay away from certain higher risk fish and even that only applies to the very young and to mothers. http://www.epa.govwatersciencefishadviceadvice.html

  • juice says:

    OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO so even the great almighty perfect peta makes a mistake nice one.

  • Mike says:

    When is PETA going to realize that these types of ads and billboards aren’t going to be viewed positively in the eye of the public? PETA is only a few years away from being looked upon as extemists by the general public it already is among most of the intelligent people of the nation.

  • millie says:

    I am sick of magazines promoting fish as “brain food” in their health sections. Seriously people do you want DIE of mercury poisoning? Oh and anyway I doubt fish enjoy being cruelly farmed and hooked so someone can eat them. Great ad PETA but somewhat ummm…disturbing. Though I guess that’s what people need something that makes them sit up and THINK. So sorry it was rejected.

  • rojo says:

    We should really only eat vegetarians.

  • Peter says:

    Although the idea has undeniable merit the use of the picture is too disturbing and dillutes the message. Generally PETA’s “ads” are spot on creative and frequently funny or use “black humor” very effectively. This one however was a mistake. If it was clearer that the family of the child endorsed it that would be different.

  • Jaclyn says:

    I’ve seen much WORSE billboards and ads on bus stops that are one small step away from being porn. I’ve seen such ads from salons and retailers. Its OK for a salon to have two provocative women almost kissing and holding each other on a billboard but its not OK to have the mercury billboard. Look we are hard headed individuals. It took me a LONG LONG time to really grasp the meaning of cruelty to animals. I knew it happened but so what? Its going to happen anyway right? It is just a bunch of people overexagerating the truth. It took a KFC graphic video for me to really SEE the cruelty. If that billboard can open someone’s eyes the better. Like I said we’re hard headed and we need to be knocked on the head with reality.

  • Wil says:

    The same sign without the picture would be just as accurate. The picture might even distract from the message.

  • BullyDawg says:

    I think the only objection to the ad would be whether or not PETA obtained the family’s permission to use a photo of their relative. Some may see it as exploitative. Disturbing ad…but still effective! Makes me want to stay away from fish!

  • Brianna Fritchey says:

    Some people just can’t handle the truth.

  • jojo says:

    i just don’t understand how CBS can do this! mercury poisoning is a serious risk to babies and they won’t let people know about it! how awful

  • Maya says:

    Gosh Jack. I just think that PETA isn’t giving people enough credit. I mean people cry when they read sad books. They don’t need so many in your face images. In our town some bookstore owner put up a counter a sign with red litup numbers that updates itself in his store window. All it said was “Number of dead soldiers in Iraq”. The number changed every time a soldier was killed. The sign below it said “billions of dollars spent so far on the war”. The number on that counter changed as well. There were NO pictures on that display. But people would actually gather in crowds around the sign shaking their heads. People these days trust science. Think about it CSI is one of the most popular shows of all time. Put up a counter or a graph showing how many children have died from mercury poisoning. Then show a picture of a cute kid next to it with some saying about protecting children. It will be clever and much more powerful than shoving an opinion in someone’s face.

  • Maya says:

    Very poor judgement. Using another person’s suffering to push your cause is unethical. Think about it how can this child consent to having his image used? He can’t. This makes all animal rights people look bad. Please annihilate the poster. Thank you for considering opinions on this one. Blessings.