Freak Week: Monkey Business

It can be tough when PETA decides to rip you a new one. But when Dodge and Wieden + Kennedy found themselves in the line of fire recently, they made the most of a bad situation. At issue was a Dodge spot in which a chimp in an Evel Knievel suit detonates a cloud of confetti — an impromptu delight that the voiceover (from Dexter’s Michael C. Hall) says is one of the few things that could make Dodge’s Tent Event more amazing than it already is. PETA, being opposed to any use of apes whatsoever in commercials, pressured Dodge to pull the spot. Instead, the client and agency digitally stripped out the chimp, but left the Knievel suit — and revised the copy to say the only thing that could improve the Tent Event would be an invisible monkey detonating the confetti. This solved the problem, technically — the chimp was gone — but it could be seen as a tongue-in-cheek move, almost a joke at PETA’s expense. (No monkeys allowed? How about invisible monkeys?) After reading our AdFreak item on the matter, PETA called and told us they were happy with the revised ad. And on its Web site, Dodge insisted the change was heartfelt. “Make no mistake — we’re not making light of the issue,” its note reads. “We hope our attempt at humor keeps the discussion about animal rights alive.”