CHICAGO (CBS) — The CareerBuilder chimpanzees are back for a new Super Bowl commercial this year, in what an ape expert calls a continued “damaging and archaic practice.”
As WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports, CareerBuilder is bringing back its notorious chimpanzees. The Chicago-based Web site has used them many times before in Super Bowl ads.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports
The chimpanzees wear business suits and work for “Yeknom Industries” – “monkey” spelled backwards. But the fact that the ad references monkeys when chimpanzees are actually apes is not why some object to the ad campaign.
Among the objectors is Dr. Steve Ross, of the Lincoln Park Zoo Center for the Conservation of Apes.
“There is ample scientific evidence demonstrating the long-term negative impacts that the use of chimpanzees in commercials has on species conservation and welfare,” Ross said. “These are endangered species we’re talking about.
“CareerBuilder is well aware that their commercials are contributing to negative outcomes for this species, which could become extinct in the next few decades, and yet they continue this damaging and archaic practice. It’s very disappointing.”
Dressing chimpanzees up in human settings, Ross says, makes people less inclined to realize they are endangered and support conservation efforts.
The zoo also warns that chimpanzees are in rapid decline and conservation experts fear they may become extinct within the next 50 years if significant conservation action isn’t taken.
Using chimps in commercials is also rife with welfare concerns, the zoo’s release said. What’s at issue isn’t whether the chimpanzees are treated humanely during the short window of time they are on the set filming, but rather the impacts of being in the entertainment business itself.
Ross explains that animals used in entertainment are often taken from their mothers at a young age, which can result in tremendous emotional and psychological distress. Their active “acting” careers are typically only a few years, after which they become too large, strong and unmanageable. And because chimpanzees can live 50-60 years, those deemed no longer useful to the media may end up in suboptimal housing for the rest of their lives.
“There are significant conservation and welfare concerns, and because of this, many major advertising agencies have pledged to no longer use chimpanzees in ad campaigns,” Ross said. “The simple fact is that using chimps in ads isn’t funny, it’s sad.”
The chimpanzees first appeared in CareerBuilder’s ads during the company’s Super Bowl debut in 2005. Last year’s commercial showed the chimpanzees making life difficult for the lone human employee of Yeknom Industries, damaging his car and running over its roof after he parked in the company lot.
“From a business trip gone awry to an unorthodox fire safety meeting to a ‘car sandwich’ in the company parking lot, the chimpanzees are all about monkey business,” CareerBuilder said.
Last year’s ad drew criticism, too. Supporters of the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals donned chimpanzee masks for a protest at the lobby of the Chicago headquarters of CareerBuilder. But CareerBuilder responded at the time that during the production of last year’s ad, it had “followed the strictest guidelines to ensure our chimpanzee stars were treated well and not harmed in any way.”
The Chicago Sun-Times’ James Scalzitti contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire.