A seal walks into a bar. Really. PETA printed 10,000 clever coasters and distributed them in bars around Toronto with the very funny message, drawn in the inimitable style of New Yorker contributor Harry Bliss. On the back is a more graphic photo of a seal hunter who has gone clubbing, and a message sending drinkers to anti-sealing site CanadaShame.com. In the Globe and Mail, PETA VP Dan Mathews called it "a perfect way to sneak up on people and introduce the debate where they're least expecting it."
But you knew it couldn't last.
The owners of the Canadian Club trademark, Beam Global Spirits & Wine Inc. of Norfolk, Va, doesn't have much of a sense of humor and sent the takedown letter:
"PETA's malicious publication has caused degradation of Canadian Club's corporate image and the advertisement has and will damage the Canadian Club brand and trademark."
Indeed. PETA's lawyer shot back that it was fair use, where "copyrighted or trademarked material may be repurposed for parody or satire." PETA's lawyer is quoted in the Globe and Mail:
"There are several factors to that test: The first is, quite clearly, this is a joke," he said. "It's a cartoon of a seal ordering a drink at a bar. It's obviously a play on the words 'Canadian club,' which unfortunately is the implement that's used to slaughter the seals. It's clearly not talking about the drink."
But as PETA demonstrates so often with the publicity they are so good at garnering, the takedown gets as much attention as the original campaign. Otherwise their lawyer wouldn't respond to Jim Beam like this:
"It was not a happy hour when PETA received your letter," wrote Jeffrey Kerr, the organization's general counsel and senior vice-president of corporate affairs. He insisted PETA's "intentions were entirely top shelf" and that, with the seal hunt about to get under way, "it's hard not to want a stiff drink."
Whatever you might think about PETA, they certainly know how to bring attention to their causes. More in the Globe and Mail and at PETA
More on the Canadian Seal Hunt and PETA
A Pie for a Pie in Newfoundland As PETA Gets It In The Face : TreeHugger
Seal Hunt Embarrassment To Be "More Humane" : TreeHugger
Seal Is On The Menu in Canada's Parliamentary Restaurant : TreeHugger