PETA Opened a High-End Leather Store, but Inside the Goods Was Something Horrible

Impressive stunt isn't just empty shock tactics, for a change

Headshot of Angela Natividad

Today in Horrible Things that Defy Imagining, Ogilvy & Mather Bangkok teamed up with PETA to give leather shoppers the fright of their lives. 

In "Behind the Leather," we're introduced to a pop-up store called The Leather Work. Situated in a well-trafficked Bangkok shopping mall, it is convincingly outfitted with purses, shoes, jackets and accessories made of alligator, snakeskin and other exotic hides. 

So far, so good. But remember: This is PETA. The moment shoppers start examining the products a smidge more closely, it all starts going nightmarishly wrong. 

One handbag, when opened, is crammed with internal organs, still fixed to the skin. A still-beating heart pulsates as women drop the bag and leap backward. In the same vein, we thought the jacket-opening scene was the absolute worst of the scares, but Ogilvy pulled out all the stops: Gloves and shoes look innocent enough … until you try them on, and find your hands and feet swathed in blood.

The reactions are about as disgusted as you'd expect, which is probably pretty satisfying for everyone involved. The ad ends with a message: "For the exotic skins industry, cruelty is a daily business." People are then driven to to learn more and help out.

For PETA, whose modus operandi is generally about pushing people away while defiantly grabbing a chicken wing, we were surprised by how effective "Behind the Leather" actually is. The extremeness we expect is there, but the reasoning is sound and carried out with genuine conviction. It also got us thinking about our own hides, and what it must feel like to be skinned alive and discarded, left in pain for hours so the results can be worn for a pricetag. 

We're pretty sure the people who encountered The Leather Work won't be likely to spring for snakeskin handbags again anytime soon—or at the very least, they'll have something nice and traumatic to remember next time they reach for one.

@luckthelady Angela Natividad is a frequent contributor to Adweek's creativity blog, AdFreak. She is also the author of Generation Creation and co-founder of Hurrah, an esports agency. She lives in Paris and when she isn't writing, she can be found picking food off your plate.