What Is Peta and How Do They Target a Global Audience

What do they want audiences to do?

Ringling Bros Barnum and Bailey Circus Holds Final Show
••• Bruce Bennett / Getty Images

We don't need to tell you anything more than "Meat is murder" and "I'd rather go naked than wear fur." You already know who we're about talking about.

Let's look at what PETA is trying to accomplish and who their audiences are. Then in a later post, let's dissect exactly how PETA relies on brilliant publicity stunts to get millions of dollars worth of global press coverage.

Whether you agree with their politics or not, they are brilliant, they are effective, and they know exactly what they're trying to do. All that may seem like common sense. It isn't. It's uncommon for a group or client to be so focused.

What Is PETA Trying to Persuade People to Do?

What they're exceptionally good at doing is keeping a consistent message. They aren't trying just to do one thing.

They're interested in all sorts of issues, from the conditions at slaughterhouses to the methods used to kill animals for their fur to the way cosmetic and drug companies use rabbits and other animals to do tests that PETA says are no better than torture.

You can make a good argument against PETA's positions. Is it cruel for the Army to shoot pigs, dogs or monkeys with real bullets so surgeons can operate on them and fix them up, giving them practice that will save the lives of soldiers on the battlefield? It's an interesting, and it's easy to get wrapped up in the details.

PETA still has people on talk shows debating the issues in depth. They aren't shallow. They know their stuff. But they cut through the clutter with short messages, amazing images, and publicity stunts that get their message across around the world.

Everything they do is under the umbrella message of treating animals as more than objects to be used. Unlike most groups with a narrow audience, they are trying to speak to every person.

Which Audiences Are They Targeting? 

  • Audience 1: Everyday People Around the World
    • PETA wants to be great at getting global press coverage because they're not just trying to reach American consumers. They're trying to reach everyday consumers around the world and convince them not to buy meat or fur coats and to avoid cosmetic companies that test their products on animals. 
  • Audience 2: Businesses 
    • They target businesses, trying to get them to change their ways. In some cases, they're pushing for minor changes. Many companies now advertise their products as not being tested on animals.
    • In other cases, they're pushing hard against the premise of entire industries like the fur trade, which naturally treat that as a threat to their existence—so these aren't easy battles that PETA is picking. They're aiming high. 
  • Audience 3: Lawmakers 
    • PETA also pushes for legal reforms, so they're also trying to persuade lawmakers, and there's no way they can match the money and lobbying firepower of the industries they're targeting.
    • How do they make up for this disadvantage, and all the other disadvantages they're facing? With great PR. 
  • Audience 4: Mass media 
    • Whenever they can, PETA relies on free coverage in the mass media through PSA's (Public Service Announcements) and publicity stunts to reach its other intended audiences.
    • Doing so isn't easy. The mass media is a hard target. They're flooded with press releases and pitches from PR firms trying to get them to cover their clients.
    • PETA consistently gets through to the mass media by tackling a new issue and using novel methods.  

By using models, rock stars, athletes, and actors as the subjects of most of their PR campaigns, PETA also generates buzz from fans of each of those celebrities and coverage in the magazines, TV shows and blogs that obsessively cover the lives of celebrities.