PETA is known for having thought-provoking yet unquestionably myopic campaign ads. Their ability to spark controversy has made the animal rights group a walking target for internet slander. This week, PETA found a rivalry in spice brand Old Bay, who began a billboard war by giving PETA’s gigantic display an anti-vegetarian twist.
PETA sparked this billboard war by constructing a sign that features a crab alongside the text “I’m me, not meat.” Since Old Bay is known to pair well with crustaceans, the spice company fired back with its PETA-inspired sign. The new billboard shows a crab pouring Old Bay on its head, with the text “okay, now I’m meat.” Pictures of both signs posted by TennesseeCorey went viral this past Valentine’s Day, with many praising Old Bay for its hilarious messaging. Feast your eyes on the post comparing the two billboards below.
Over the past couple of days, thousands of people have seen the billboard-war tweet. One commenter responded with, “PETA cannot really think they’re gonna get Marylanders to stop eating blue crabs,” indicating that the signs were spotted on the east coast. Releasing an animal rights sign specifically featuring a crab around the DMV is a peculiar move since the fishing economy is imperative to those states.
Though the billboard-war tweet is freshly circulating on the internet, these crab-focused PETA signs have been around for years. In 2018, a Baltimore restaurant also decided to play with the animal rights group’s infamous billboard. Jimmy’s Famous Seafood noticed the anti-crab-eating sign and decided to construct its own pro-meat message.
With crab cakes being one of the most popular dishes in the city, Baltimore’s Jimmy’s Famous Seafood felt it had to take down PETA. The billboard war began when the seafood restaurant put up a sign reading “Steamed crabs. Here to stay.” The “ME” of “Steamed” was capitalized, flipping PETA’s original play on words. The pro-vegan group’s intent of humanizing a crab in a Maryland state fell on deaf ears as many supported the restaurant’s efforts to ignite a rivalry.
If you thought this 2018 billboard war was over, you are poorly mistaken. PETA was obviously unhappy with the Baltimore restaurant’s taunts. PETA released its rebuttal featuring another crab with the message “Why so crabby?” The restaurant owners decided this new sign wasn’t good enough to construct another pro-meat billboard, so they opted with a tweet instead. The tweet read “Dear PETA, your tears are delicious,” with a photoshopped beer-tap lever with the words “PETA tears” on it. As of today, this tweet halted the vegan group’s rivalry with Jimmy’s Famous Seafood.
PETA is no stranger to using highway signs to spread its vegetarian messages. PETA decided to utilize essential COVID-safe vernacular during the pandemic to target the Kentucky Derby. The billboard stated, “practice moral distancing,” with a photo of a Kentucky Derby horse. Though this didn’t galvanize a billboard war, many critiqued the animal rights group’s intentions online, frustrated that PETA would think it’s appropriate to conflate public health safety with horse racing.
PETA has never shied away from a public stunt. Unfortunately for the group members, many citizens are ready to engage in billboard wars and online arguments to combat narrow-minded beliefs. PETA’s failure to do its homework led to crab-focused billboards all over the east coast, baffling a large portion of Maryland residents who are supported by fishing revenue.