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The 1980 Fur Coat Controversy

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In 1983 an advocacy group known as Lynx had a goal to influence people’s outlook on the topic of fur coats and change the way people behave. Its campaign became one of the most successful in history. The ad by Lynx identifies fur-wearers as idiotic and cruel, and it: incites people visually by showing a blood trail behind the coat and through details about how animals are killed; influences them through awareness of the problem, and seeks to persuade them to save animals by not buying fur coats.

The campaign was targeted to the wealthier female audience. The dramatic visual of blood red color trailing behind a coat draws the attention of people to this ad. It symbolizes death with its black and red colors, which help drive the fact that animals are murdered in such high quantities to achieve one item. The image that they chose draws the viewer to first notice the trail of blood then the fur coat. The font and the text are standard with some bold letters. Perhaps a popular font at the time was used in this ad. The ad portrays a dark representation of how much cruelty is in the world not only by the factual evidence stated in the image but how the visual representation of how careless are, fur coat owners are.

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The time period of 1980-1995 was the era of the large and luxurious fur coat. Fur coat manufacturing companies were a big success in the market all around the world. You could see the shops everywhere you looked. The coats kept you warm, it was soft, and very pricey. The coats’ prices ranged from $300 to $3,000 back then.

So why were they so popular? Around 1970 it became a trend for the upper class to flaunt their wealth by buying exotic fur coats of many different varieties of animals to show off. One of the most popular animals used was the mink. The mink is a part of the otter family, only smaller in size. Other hides used in the upper class included possum, raccoon, seal, fox, sable, and beaver, while middle classes had the less expensive squirrel, weasel, mole, or chinchilla. Around 85% of all animals used for the coats were raised on a farm where they grew up just to die. The remains of the animals that were skinned had some other uses like producing soaps and hair produce. The remains of animals were also fed to captive animals to produce fertilizer. Some of the cheaper hides like rabbit were colored to look like the costlier fox and seal. If a real hide was out of someone’s price range or they didn’t want to support purchasing a real fur coat people bought Siberian hides which were manufactured fake coats to resemble a real fur coat. To make one coat, it took the lives of around 60 minks per coat. The size of the animal depended on how many were killed to make the coat. Many people who would purchase a coat just to stay up to trend wouldn’t even think twice until around 1983 when protestors started advertisements, riots, and boycotts. Advocates that were against fur coats would beat people up who were wearing coats. Paint would be thrown onto pedestrians and celebrities who chose to wear the coat out in public.

One of the biggest advocate groups who were against the fur coats had the name of Lynx. The non-profit British organization had millions of supporters. There were many groups that protested to save the lives of thousands of minks and other animals that were being slaughtered just for their pelts. However, Lynx stood out most with bold advertisements that took you by surprise. “The campaign got trendy and was one of the first pieces of consumer-driven campaigning,” said-Mark Glover, Founder of Lynx. This advertisement on the rights had opened the people’s eyes to what they were supporting by showing graphic blood tailing behind the fur coat. The intention of the argument was to influence people to stop purchasing fur coats by exposing the truth about how they are made. It claims that “it takes 40 animals to make a fur coat” and that animals are being “greased, electrocuted, trapped, and strangled.” This advertisement hits the people in the gut with guilt and tries to get people to have remorse for supporting the fur coat industry. The ad assumes that people don’t know what they were supporting by purchasing fur and shows them the awful truth about the trend and why it should crumble to the ground. The black and white image highlights the red blood which draws the viewer to pay attention to the fur coat that is being dragged behind the woman.

The ethos provided in the ad is obtained through the credibility of Lynx as a nonprofit organization by guiling owners of the fur coats to see what they are supporting. The ad expressed logos by providing factual evidence to influence people that if you buy a fur coat that you are a dumb animal. The pathos is the advertisement set out to hit the people in the gut with guilt and tried to get people to have remorse for supporting the fur coat industry. It expresses an image that unravels the underlying truth about the dark and cruel process of fur coats. The art is persuasive, because it supplies information to others about what they are supporting through fur coats. The ad was made to “stick” to the reader. As referenced in the book “Made To Stick” by Chip heath & Dan Health. The book has the same guidelines to achieving what you want by following six steps. The first step is that the writer must be simple in their writing. By prioritize what need to be done and by making something simple yet bold and profound it creates a strong statement that gets across firmly. The creator must be unexpected in their writing. This can be achieved by opening a gap in the readers’ knowledge and then providing answers to fill in the gaps. The topic also needs to be concrete, become direct in what you are addressing by providing solid ideas. Having credibility behind what is being said is key.

By providing people with new material that has not been given to the reader draws the people’s attention to what the article is saying. Expressing emotional thoughts through what is being written gives excitement in the ad by going above and beyond. If the ad is provided with proper emotions and incite it gives people suspense and creates curiosity that develops the interest in what is being said. Telling a story with experience and care provides the viewer with insight and gives the ad meaning and truth providing it to stand out. Mark provided all this in his ad, making a bold yet short statement about why people should stop purchasing fur coats and by purchasing. Mark was able to draw the people’s attention more than other activist groups because he provided short yet powerful statements. It is very direct in the matter that it only talks about how and at what cost coats are being made. The ad provided us with answers to how these animals are being inhumanly killed. Mark could provide information about the industry that other activists could not provide because he had gone further in-depth to discover the dark truths about the industry. His ad stood out because it provided readers with the experience from what he knew about the process.

I am not a part of the intended audience because I am a millennial. The fur coat era was very big and I can understand the situation and how these coats ruined so many people’s outlooks on clothing. Even though I was never alive to meet my father’s parents, I feel after researching this advertisement that my grandmother was wrong for supporting such an inhuman business. my grandmother always wore fur coats in family pictures and flaunted around with them. Now you rarely ever see anyone wearing a fur coat. As a side note, founder Mark Glover, CEO of Lynx meets the end in the early 1990s when Lynx was investigating a fur farm and were sued for the investigation. They lost everything, the organization had no more funds left to keep going. Only a few years after the court case had settled Stefan committed suicide, ending what remained of the organization known most notoriously by Lynx. Even though the campaign tragically ended, the ads and movements they provided made such a difference to the world for the better. The ad successfully provided the reader with proper insight about the fur coats and why it was inhumanely crafted by providing evidence to express why it was wrong. The goal is to advocate a change of peoples outlook on the topic. It’s about changing the way people behave. Thanks to Lynx and many other organizations and protests, fur coats and products and production have dropped significantly from what it used to be. Today there are only around 100 fur production company’s around the world.


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