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In an effort to reach and recruit a younger audience, PETA has launched peta2, its youth activist program that carries the slogan “not your parents’ animal rights.” According to its Facebook page, peta2’s goal is to arm youth with all the “info, literature, advice, and (most importantly) stickers [they] need to get active for animals.” Essentially, PETA has launched a campaign that, if successful, will recruit, educate, and energize a new generation of PETA supporters. 

petapicThe Uses and Gratifications Theory asserts that people are “active users of media,” meaning they are aware of different media outlets and can thus be selective of the media they use. This theory is important for public relations practitioners to understand because it allows them to target their messages more strategically and effectively to reach one or several key target audiences. It relates to the peta2 campaign because PETA, its parent organization, wanted to reach a younger audience. In order to increase the chances that youth would even come in contact with peta2 and its message, PETA launched peta2 accounts on many of the popular social networking websites, such as Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter. A peta2 channel was also launched on Youtube, featuring spoofs of the television show “Full House” and the 2008 Presidential Election, as well as clips of celebrities voicing support for peta2. In addition, peta2 has launched advertisements and Facebook photos starring celebrity spokespeople and animated cartoons. The peta2 website has also created a series of games to appeal to its target audience, including “Dress Up the Trollsens,” a spoof on the often fur-clad Olsen Twins, and “Bloody Burberry: The Fur Fighters.” All of these are specifically marketed towards kids and teens, making it more likely that younger audiences will hear about peta2 and make an increased effort to learn about and advocate for animal rights issues. 

petapic2The Elaborated Likelihood Model recognizes that most people are aware of and actively think about an idea. It is much easier to reach these types of audiences with a message using standard means of communication and media outlets. However, some audiences may not have any knowledge of the message or subject, or may not be interested in it. In these cases, it is useful for public relations practitioners to know how to take a “peripheral” (as opposed to “central”) route, often aided by repetition, credible spokespeople, and tangible rewards. This model directly relates to the peta2 campaign because a “peripheral” route was utilized to reach and recruit a younger audience. Repetition was employed  to encourage kids and teens to continuously think about and remember peta2’s messages, slogans, and campaigns. The same messages, photos, and advertisements repeat themselves on peta2’s main website as well as its Facbook, Myspace, and Youtube pages. In addition, highly recognizable celebrities and bands are featured in clips, all voicing their support for peta2. No audience is more influenced by pop culture and celebrity spokespeople than kids and teens! Rewards, such as “Free Stuff Friday,”and contests like “Cutest Vegetarian Alive” encourage kids and teens to visit the sites, tell their friends, and provide their email addresses. These giveaways coax peta2’s target audience to continuously visit the site, thus increasing the chances that they will internalize the message and pass it on!



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Post by Kinsley Suer


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