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PETA “Save The Sheep” Campaign | AbstractCase Study on PETA and their international boycott of the Australian Wool Industry. I go into detail about the issue, ‘mulesing’, the tactical strategies used by PETA to gain support and the success of the campaign.
Tara Walters S2892604
1510HUM Introduction to Public Relations |

case study
PETA “Save The Sheep” Campaign | AbstractCase Study on PETA and their international boycott of the Australian Wool Industry. I go into detail about the issue, ‘mulesing’, the tactical strategies used by PETA to gain support and the success of the campaign.
Tara Walters S2892604
1510HUM Introduction to Public Relations |

This case study focuses on the People for Ethical Rights and Treatment of Animals (PETA) and their campaign to boycott the Australian Wool Industry and in particular the practice of ‘mulesing’ on the sheep (“Save the Sheep” campaign). Australia is one of the world largest producers of wool, and the last country to inherit ethical agricultural practices in the Wool Industry (AWI). Firstly I cover the research and situation analysis aspects of a 10 point plan, describing PETA, the cruel practice of ‘mulesing’ and the PETA campaigns main focus of phasing it out using boycotting. Then researching and explaining PETAS goals and tactics of the plan, going in to detail on the strategy used by targeting International apparel retailers, which included aggressive advertising threats against retailers and how targeting an Australian Industry off shore was a great benefit for the campaign. Finally I will show the campaigns outcome, evaluating the success it had, even against a large industry which are stuck in there ways. Managing to boycott the industry with major retailers support and incurring the AWI significant profit losses as well as tarnishing their reputation. Whilst there were losses for PETA including the ditching of the agreement with the Australian Wool Industry, PETA have been able to maintain a strong message and presence, which has dragged out almost a decade. They are still to this day dedicated to their main goal of eliminating ‘mulesing’ and how an effective and tactical strategy can provide ultimate support for the Campaign.

My research and situation analysis of PETA’s aggressive campaign in 2004 against the Australian Wool Industry (AWI), targeting ‘mulesing’ focuses on barbaric practice. PETA claims it an unnecessary and cruel, wanting it to be bought to an end. Alternative methods are available for mulesing, but with no laws and little knowledge or factual research, the best plan of action for PETA to take was to boycott the Australian Wool Industry internationally. PETA excel at coming up with effective campaigns. They are straight to the point, controversial and constantly receiving media attention by utilizing celebrities and shock value.

Targeting specific international industry publics, such as US retailers Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap and J.Crew was an exceptionally strategic move by PETA. By doing this they were able to gain more supporters, all with limited ties to Australia and limited knowledge of the AWI’s story, and affect the Australian product. This way the AWI, AWGA and Australian Government had little influence over PETA’s new recruits (Bowman, Gow, 2009. Pg. 34)
Fashion Designer to Hollywood A-Listers, Marc Bower: “I recently learned from my friends at PETA how sheep are treated in Australia and I am so appalled that I will be cutting all Australian wool from my future collections. Your government’s failure to take steps towards enforcing an end to these crude practices reflects poorly on Australia’s standing as a wool supplier in the global fashion market.” – Exert from his letter to Australian Prime Minister John Howard in 2005 (Coober Pedy Regional Times, 2010).

PETA’s goal was to boycott Australian Wool Products, because of the ‘mulesing’ performed on the Merino sheep. Mulesing was generally unheard of, so creating awareness and interest was also of key significance to the success of PETA’s campaign. The overall goal is to end mulesing and any other cruel, painful practices used in its place. PETA need to impact their target audiences hard enough to make a significant unease with the wool product in order to change its place in the industry. Boycotting the product by gaining company pledges to not use Australian Wool until mulesing is banned will impact the Australian Industry, and in a domino effect, hurt the retail companies that don’t pledge by gaining consumers support.

The campaign’s tactics started by targeting retailers that were using ‘mulesed’ Australian wool, naming and shaming them and the AWI. PETA started with retailer Abercrombie & Fitch, making graphic posters with the slogan “Abercrulety & Fitch”, advertising the retailer’s relationship with the AWI and the mutilation of the sheep. The mock up was never used externally, but that is because Abercrombie & Fitch were quick to sign the pledge after seeing the ‘mock’ advertisement.
PETA’s Director of Corporate Affairs, Matthew Prescott states
“It’s not [blackmail]. What we do is show the public what the companies they are supporting are engaged in and we let them make up their own mind. We give companies a few choices: either you can stop this cruel activity or we can show the public what you are doing, which is ultimately their choice, but most companies prefer to do the right thing” (Tarred & Fleeced, Brisbane Times, 2008).
Another tactic of the 2004 Australian Wool boycott campaign was to shock its audiences, which they accomplished by posting huge billboards across New York City, depicting two sheep, with mutilated ‘mulesed’ backsides and the slogan “Did your sweater cause a bloody bum? Boycott Australian Wool”. The campaign was the start of a nine year battle with the AWI and the Australian Wool Growers Association (AWGA) in getting the AWI to agree to find alternative methods to ‘mulesing’ (Sydney Morning Herald 2005).
The final tactic PETA use is their celebrity support. In this campaign Pink gives the public a ‘credible’ source to hear the issue of ‘mulesing’ from. Shocking audiences silent with heart wrenching images is also a signature PETA move. It creates a buzz, people talk about it, and the public are encouraged to write to their governments about it, they boycott wool from their family and so on.

Strategies like this get PETA the support it needs quick. Retailers were quick to join PETAs campaign, fearing they would be the next target of a graphically exposing type advertisement by PETA being leaked if they didn’t pledge. As a result of the company boycotting, the Australian Wool Industry was faced with loss of US retailer support, which in time grew to the loss of international apparel industry’s support (Holmes 2007).

Evaluating the boycott campaign of Australian wool shows it was a success as the retailers and consumers pledged not to use the Australian product. It caused a significant impact on the AWI’s profits and reputation. The AWI and AWGA (2004), attempted to use part of Australia’s Trade Practice Act (ATP) that deals with exports, against PETA, wanting an induction to stop the boycott and compensation for damages caused to the industry (AAP The Age 2005, Industry Search 2005). A year later, 2005, the AWI/AWGA had dropped the case against PETA and had come up with an agreement. Based on the research findings that ‘no alternative methods for mulesing are available in Australia at present’ both sides reached a settlement. The AWI/AWGA agreed to meet yearly reductions of mulesing, and to completely phase out the practice by 2010, and PETA in turn agreed to stop the campaign against ‘mulesing’ for at least 10 years. This gave the AWI/AWGA’s a chance to research and find alternative methods that would work in the different climates and sheep farming regions of Australia (Farm Advisor 2013). The Australian Wool Industry comes back to PETA in late 2005 with a temporary alternative to mulesing, ‘clip mulesing’, a method causing the sheep less pain and physical damage than the standard mulesing practice. They also propose to work on a Merino breed that is ‘bare breeched’, but will need until 2012 to be able to achieve this goal, extending the standard mulesing life by 2 years. PETA is happy with the compromise, as ‘clip mulesing’ is less traumatic on the sheep, and they are still on course to put an end to ‘mulesing’ (Bowmar, Gow 2009).

In conclusion, PETA succeed in gaining mass media attention and public support with their witty campaigns, shock tactics and industry and company boycotting skills. My research and situation analysis proves PETA have always been strong with their campaigns. The goals they set for the campaign were clear, to end ‘mulesing’. They are wickedly clued in with their target publics and know how to achieve maximum support. The extreme but effective tactical approach PETA had gaining industry support for the boycott was the key reason PETA succeeded (Smith 2013). Whilst some of their tactics could be considered by some as ‘blackmail’ or aggressively threatening, especially tactics like the “Abercrulety & Fitch”, PETA does ensure the public that the companies they target are all supporting their cause on their own free will. Targeting the public using celebrities and playing with people’s emotions with graphic and controversial imaging. The ‘Save the Sheep’ campaign’s outcome was in PETA’s favour, resulting in the AWI looking terrible and losing a significant amount of industry and consumer support. PETA’s biggest victory was getting the AWI to agree to phase out mulesing.

Sneddon. J, Lee. J, Soutar. G, 2010. An Exploration of Ethical Consumers’ Response to ‘Animal Friendly’ Apparel. Journal of Research for Consumers, [Online]. 18, 4-7.
[Accessed 29 August 2013].
Bowmar. R, Gow. H, 2009. Alternative Strategic Responses to the Animal Welfare Advocacy:. Education and Training 17th International Farm Management Congress, USA Case Study, Department of Agriculture, Food and Resource Economics, [Online]. Version: 1, 35. [Accessed 26 August 2013].
Pulling the wool – Wool Industry Abandons Mulesing Deadline. National - 2013.
[Accessed 29 August 2013].
Smith, A, 2013. Inside The Australian Wool Industry. PETA Campaigns, [Online]. JR350 Final Project: PR in Practice, University of Oregon. [Accessed 27 August 2013].

March 28, 2010. PETA: Boycott of Australian “Mulesed” Wool is Full Throttle, Coober Pedy Regional Tomes. [Accessed 26 August, 2013]
Friday, 30 August 2013. The End Of The Sheep’s Back. Farm Advisor. [Accessed 22 August 2013].
Bowmar, R.K, Gow, H.R. Friday, 30 August 2013. Alternative Strategic Responses to the Animal Welfare Advocacy: The Case of PETA, Merino Wool and the Practice of Mulesing Department of Agriculture, Food and Resource Economics, Michigan State University. Version: 1 February 2009 [Accessed 22 August 2013].
24 May, 2008. Tarred and Fleeced by PETA Yarn, Brisbane Times. [Accessed 22 August 2013].

Holmes, P. 18 February 2007. The Holmes Report: Providing Information to Defuse a Product Boycott. [Accessed 21 August 2013].

11 February, 2005. PETA and Australian Wool Group Preparing for Court Fight. Industry Search. [Accessed 22 August 2013].

February 19, 2005. Animal Rights Group Steps Up Anti-Wool Campaign. Sydney Morning Herald.
[Accessed 23 August 2013].

Jopson, D. 20 December, 2012. The End of The Sheep’s Back. The Global Mail. [Accessed 29 August 2013].
January 27, 2005. Navratilova joins mulesing campaign. The Age. [Accessed 21 August 2013].
Gadd, G. 24 February, 2010. PETA’s New Spin on Mulesing. The Weekly Times Now. [Accessed 25 August 2013].

Waters, J. 18 December, 2004. Animal Rights Group Campaigns Against Benetton. The ABC Online.
[Accessed 27 August 2013].

Mulesing by the Wool Industry. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. [Accessed 24 August 2013]. Inside The Australian Wool Industry- Campaign. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. [Accessed 22 August 2013].

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