Denny’s flips chickens the bird.
Update, 2/19/09: Please check out the comments, particularly the clarification from David at Farm Sanctuary and my own response to nadyne, before responding to this post. Thanks much!
Being a lady and all, I’m not really a big fan of televised sporting events. (Sarcasm, people, sarcasm!) And, given the rank sexism that permeates an unhealthy majority of the Super Bowl ads, I’ve long since stopped paying attention to those, too. (Tim Tebow protest letters aside.)
So when I received an email from Farm Sanctuary proclaiming that “Denny’s Acknowledges Suffering of Egg-laying Hens in Super Bowl Ads,” I did a double-take. Say what now?
Denny’s Acknowledges Suffering of Egg-laying Hens in Super Bowl Ads
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – February 10, 2010 – It was meant to be a humorous promotion for a free breakfast, but the dark undercurrent of truth running through the trio of Denny’s “Chicken Warning” Super Bowl ads did not go unnoticed by those familiar with the lifelong suffering of egg-laying hens. In the first 30-second spot, which is part of a new campaign created by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners Inc., Denny’s introduces a brand advocate who invites viewers to enjoy a free Grand Slam breakfast, while warning chickens to get out of town because “it’s going to be a tough week for egg layers.” Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization, had this to say about the spot:
“In a surprise move, Denny’s, home of the Grand Slam breakfast, inadvertently delivered a powerful animal protection message to millions of Super Bowl fans during Sunday’s game between the Saints and the Colts. I say ‘surprise’ because it’s not every day that a major restaurant chain makes a public acknowledgment (and during the Super Bowl no less!) of the animal suffering that goes into the creation of their menu items, but that is precisely what Denny’s did with their ‘Chicken Warning’ ads.
“Although the scenes of egg-laying hens relaxing at home and playing pool couldn’t be further from the truth — they spend their entire lives on factory farms where they are packed so densely inside tiny wire cages and dark, filthy warehouses they can barely move or lift their wings — the spoken message that ‘it’s going to be a tough week for egg layers’ couldn’t have been more spot on. The cruel way these sensitive, intelligent birds, and all farm animals, are treated on America’s factory farms is incongruent with Americans’ values of compassion. When the announcer says ‘it’s a great day to be an American, bad day to be a chicken,’ we should remember that we are a nation that has always prided itself on fighting injustice and reaching out to those in need, rather than tolerating the torture and abuse of individuals less powerful than ourselves. Regardless of whether or not people found the ads humorous, Denny’s (however unintentionally) made the connection between animal suffering and the food on their menu, giving viewers a glimpse at the nasty truth behind eggs.”
Here are the three commercials in question:
Eh. While I suppose you could say that Denny’s publicly acknowledged – technically and in a roundabout way – “the animal suffering that goes into the creation of their menu items,” I’m not particularly impressed. After all, the animals’ exploitation is treated as fodder for a joke, thus trivializing what is in reality a serious issue (deadly serious). Neither is that suffering spelled out in concrete and detailed terms; rather, it’s referenced in a general way, leaving viewers to fill in the blanks for themselves. (In at least one of the commercials, egg laying is almost presented as a career choice for hens; e.g., “chickens might want to take the week off,” as though they’re being asked to put in overtime.) Cue the “happy meat” mythconceptions.
As much as I’d like to claim a victory (however small), I very much doubt that any omnivores watching gave any thought to the horrific conditions in egg laying facilities or reconsidered their consumption of “meat,” eggs or dairy. More likely, they guffawed at the very idea of bird suffering, cognition and emotions.
On the other hand, at least the animals aren’t depicted as happy participants in their own demise. (Talk about low standards!)
What do you think? Denny’s “Chicken Warning” Super Bowl commercials: touchdown or travesty?