Animal welfare organizations around the world are outraged by a Gucci campaign to celebrate the Year of the Tiger. For the GucciTiger campaign, the fashion house hired an actual tiger, which is portrayed as a posh pet and lifestyle accessory. Today, AAP is sending an open letter to Gucci explaining how damaging the GucciTiger campaign is. As many as 50 animal welfare and biodiversity organizations, including World Animal Protection, IFAW and PETA, signed this letter.
It is deeply disappointing, that Gucci is promoting the commercial exploitation of wild and endangered animals, rather than helping to better protect them. By showing tigers as luxury items like Gucci does, the likability and demand of exotic pets will increase which, as a result, fuels the – often illegal – trade of many endangered species. European rescue capacities for wild animals are already so overstretched, that these organizations are unable to keep up with the demand to take in exotic pets from disillusioned owners as it is, let alone when this harmful, cruel and unnecessary trade continues to grow.
In the offending commercial, a tiger performs as an extra in a luxurious high-tea setting to promote a collection of GucciTiger items. This unnatural setting gives the public all the wrong ideas of where it actually belongs. Tigers have very complex behavioral and physiological needs that can never be met in a film studio (read more about the tiger).
Even though the tiger was filmed separately from the actors, this practice remains irresponsible. To film a tiger, the animal must be trained and restrained. This causes stress and damage and can lead to unsafe situations.
This striking display of ignorance on Gucci’s part strongly contradicts the meaning of the Year of the Tiger. The lunar new year celebrates the tiger as the king of all beasts and is associated with bravery, confidence and strength. None of that is translated in this fashion campaign.
We are calling on Gucci to acknowledge their error, as well as for them -and any other brand considering the use of wildlife for advertising purposes- to publicly commit to leaving wild animals where they belong. Gucci has not yet responded to earlier criticism and is invited to discuss what can be done to use their Tiger-campaign to promote a message that is actually good for tigers.