Sunday, May 4, 2008

Winning Narrative for a Second-place Horse

Caveat: I don’t pretend to know anything about horses other than they’re cool. I spent a good part of my childhood around two American Quarters, but one of them (Sheba) really hated me and I just gave him his space.

But this post isn’t about horses so much. It's about the fact that the PR counsel for PETA has got to have one of the 20 or so easiest gigs in the business. Anytime an animal hits the news, you go on the offensive. You can even admit upfront that you have no evidence, and still the verysmartpeople at the leading news organizations in the world will pick you up.

How cool it that?

The Kentucky Derby benefits from a very simple narrative involving tradition, our agrarian heritage and … well, hats. But still …

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has an even simpler narrative: YOU are exploiting defenseless animals in ways you haven’t even thought about and you should think about that.

Does the organization expect all of the investigations, suspensions, charges, changes, etc. called for in their release actually to happen? Of course not. But a bunch of people saddened by the Eight Belles accident will write checks in the next 30 days.

As long as there are Thoroughbreds in the world, there will be horseracing and jumping. (Not to mention trail riding and whatnot.) If we all agree to stop trail riding and racing and jumping horses … or even breeding animals for specific characteristics … what happens to that last generation?

It’s a fight PETA can’t win. But it’s a narrative that can’t lose.

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