PETA Goes Corporate

PETA — the organization best known for its attempts to annoy the world into conforming with its world-view — has found a new tactic:
PETA buys stock to gain influence in boardrooms

An animal-rights group known for sending out scantily clad demonstrators to protest fur and other provocative stunts has gained influence in boardrooms with a more traditional tactic: buying company stock.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has been buying shares for seven years and now owns a piece of at least 80 companies, including McDonald’s and Kraft Foods.

Is this an obvious move, or a stunning one?

It’s somewhat amusing, of course, (and to some, I’m sure, horrifying) to know that, as shareholders, PETA will now start to benefit from the sale of the very meat products it so fervently opposes. But presumably this is an instance in which PETA believes that the ends justify the means. Another way to say the same thing is to say that PETA (to its credit?) is willing to get its hands dirty, in this case by profiting (in the short run) from a business it is trying to destroy. If (as seems likely to be the case) this strategy does succeed in giving the organization a significant voice in the corporate world, then it seems like a good move. I suspect the money they’ll spend on shares will have more impact than the same amount of money spent on publicity stunts. Presumably the only activists who will mind are ones who care less about animals and relatively more about opposing the standard pattern according to which those with money — in this case, PETA — are best able to make themselves heard.

4 comments so far

  1. Matthew Brophy on

    Interesting AP article. Seems like a reasonable and effective strategy. I too am no fan of many of the stunts PETA members have been behind over the years.

    Nonetheless, I acknowledge their cause as just (and I speak here as a meat-eater): namely, the reduction of animal cruelty in the food industry. For this reason, I would respectfully object to your blog’s (perhaps excusably cheeky) description of PETA as “best known for its attempts to annoy the world into conforming with its world-view.” That animals in factory farms currently suffer severely and unnecessarily, and that this ought to be of moral concern to us, doesn’t seem to me like some eccentric “world-view.” It seems like a reasonable concern that we should probably all take some time to reflect upon without ad hominem or prejudice.

  2. Chris MacDonald on


    Fair enough. As a mostly-vegetarian, I generally approve of their goals, too. But as far as I can see, their main tool up to this point has been to annoy people, rather than (say) to engage in constructive dialogue. Since they don’t do much by way of dialogue, it’s hard to give them credit for anything more specific than a “world view.” They’ve got a perspective, that much I know. Their reasons are much less clear to me. (They claim, for example, to be an “animal rights” organization. But I don’t know what kind of rights they claim on behalf of animals, or whether they even understand what it means to have rights. That info might be buried on their website, somewhere, but it’s certainly not featured prominently. And it’s not on the relevant Wikipedia page.)

    So, no, maybe their worldview isn’t entirely eccentric — well, at least parts of it aren’t. But they’re not terribly clear on just what that worldview is, either. I suspect fully spelled out it actually IS relatively eccentric.


  3. Chris Jarvis on

    Great article Chris. I just posted it to our Facebook Page.

    It’s an interesting dilemma, yet I’m sure any benefit (income) PETA realizes as a shareholder will be used against the company (by buying more shares, etc?).

    A bit like using the strength, girth and weight of an opponent against him/her. Does this mean PETA just went Ninja?

  4. […] are not infrequently the targets of protests, boycotts, and other forms of activism. But what about business as a form of […]

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