Don’t laugh at the chimp in the commercial

Jonah Chimpanzees are not exactly the unsung heroes of advertising; in fact, they’re quite sung, having starred in splashy, successful Super Bowl campaigns from E*Trade to CareerBuilder. (Pictured is Jonah the E*Trade chimp, photographed during a long-ago visit to Adweek.) But now one zoologist is calling for a chimp-ad moratorium, arguing that making chimps wear funny hats and dance around for the camera isn’t good for their image. “When chimpanzees are portrayed as caricatures of humans, dressed up in silly outfits and so on, people think that chimps aren’t endangered, aren’t worthy of our conservation efforts,” says Steve Ross of Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo. “There’s probably effects we don’t even imagine when people are watching these [ads] and laughing.” We fully support Ross’s efforts, and advise you not to watch this British tea commercial with chimps doing a James Bond spoof, this Bud Light spot with the talking chimp, and especially not this Arby’s ad with chimps doing Riverdance. And if you watch, please don’t laugh.

—Posted by Tim Nudd