Super Bowl commercials: What happens to those CareerBuilder chimps?
They're not monkeys. They're chimpanzees with short working lives in entertainment, after which they can't be returned to zoos or the wild. Lucky ones end up in sanctuaries, needing care for the next 40 years. Major ad agencies have pledged not to use great apes. Why won't CareerBuilder?
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CareerBuilder’s misinformation and equating chimpanzees with “monkeys” is bad enough, but disseminating such an image actually has a real and devastating impact on the chimpanzee population. Does the company realize that promoting its business is negatively affecting the status of chimpanzees in the wild?Skip to next paragraph
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Studies and surveys have shown that when the public sees chimpanzees dressed up and acting in movies, TV shows, and advertisements, they don’t really perceive that these great apes are “endangered” in the wild in Africa. A recent article in Science Magazine by primate researchers, including Jane Goodall, affirms: “Depictions of chimpanzees as caricatures can lead people to think these animals are not endangered, and this is a problem for conservation and welfare efforts.”
If the public doesn’t see chimpanzees as needing help (and on the brink of extinction, which they are), then they are less likely to send donations to groups working to save them or to take steps to protect them.
Treated well during filming, but after?
Mr. Castellini also said in a press release that the company “thought this was good timing to bring the chimpanzees out of retirement.” Well, the chimpanzees won’t be coming out of retirement! The original CareerBuilder chimpanzees from the first series of ads in the CareerBuilder campaign are now adolescents and too big and dangerous to work around people. So CareerBuilder probably had to find a new generation of youngsters, pulled again from mothers and trained to perform in these ads.
CareerBuilder’s Facebook page says that the chimpanzees were treated well in the making of the commercials. That’s good, but that’s also not the only issue. How will these chimpanzees – and the entire wild chimpanzee population – be treated afterward? Actor chimpanzees have a short working life as juveniles, but a very long adult life, where they will need safe and enriching care for decades. Consider, too, the fact that portrayals of chimpanzees in this manner (as funny or cute) affect the overall efforts to protect chimpanzees in the wild. Such a situation should be of concern to everyone, not just “animal advocates."
Caring for these retired chimpanzees doesn’t come cheaply. Even if corporations like CareerBuilder make a donation during the filming of commercials to help with the future care of the chimpanzees they use, it in no way covers what the future costs to care for these great apes will actually be. Seven North American sanctuaries for retired entertainment, pet, and research chimpanzees today all find the costs of care range between $14,000 to $19,000 a year for each ape.
When the first four chimpanzees were used in CareerBuilder’s 2005 ads, they were 2 years (Koda), 4 years (Mowgli), 6 years (Bella), and 7 years old (Ellie). Since they could all live to the age of 50 or more, you can do the math and see that it could take millions of dollars to provide care for the actors that sold CareerBuilder to the public.
A better way to pitch products
In this day and age, computer graphic imaging (CGI) is an amazing way to tell a story and show comic antics without affecting the lives of these baby chimpanzees used as actors. C’mon CareerBuilder! Please join with the responsible corporations and advertising agencies that can find ways to pitch products and services without exploiting great apes. Please use your talent, wealth, and success to produce entertaining commercials that don’t have such a sad impact on chimpanzees.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the company chose to donate some of the millions of dollars it pays for TV Super Bowl advertising time to wildlife protection projects in Africa that are struggling so desperately to save chimpanzees in the wild? It should at least provide a real retirement fund for the first four chimpanzees that made them so famous.
Now that would make me want to call CareerBuilder for services.