The photo is of former Dallas Cowboy cheerleader Bonnie-Jill Laflin lying down in a pile of hay wearing only partially-zipped hot pants, cowboy boots and a white cowboy hat across her breasts. It could have been the start of a dirty joke about a roll in the hay with the farmer’s daughter, but the public never got to see the photo.
The shot was planned as an anti-rodeo billboard with a caption—“Nobody likes an eight-second ride”—by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to protest the treatment of rodeo animals, but the group couldn’t find a firm willing to display the ad during the Helena rodeo.
“It’s not necessarily the message that’s a problem,” says Lamar Outdoor Advertising’s Rick McAlmond. “We’ve done business with PETA in the past, it’s nothing against PETA, but not with that kind of ad.”
McAlmond says he was contacted by a PETA represenative looking for a billboard in the Helena market. He said sure, but he needed to take a look at the artwork first. After seeing the amount of skin in the ad, McAlmond said he couldn’t display it.
Not only was the ad turned down in Helena, but efforts to use the ad in Arizona, Colorado and South Dakota have stalled. Only in Las Vegas, where showing a little skin isn’t the most scandalous thing in the world, will the ad go up in December during the National Rodeo Finals.
PETA shoots ads months in advance and then pairs them with events, so there was no effort to change the ad, says PETA spokesperson Holly Fraser. She adds that she wasn’t surprised to have it declined.
“It really is luck of the draw,” says Fraser. “Sometimes you get a town that you think is going to be very conservative and they run the ad. Sometimes you get a more liberal area and they won’t run it. We are bombarded with sexual or controversial imagery working to sell things. Our problem is that we’re going up against corporations that have a big budget, and we don’t. So we have to do provocative, interesting and sometimes controversial things to get our really important message out.”
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy. It seems like such a harmless phrase. Not so.
After a single case of what is better know as mad cow disease was discovered in northern Alberta, Canada, on May 20, 35 international trading partners shut their borders to exports of Canadian beef and cattle. The U.S. and Canadian cattle industries are so integrated that the border shut-down has crippled Canada’s industry.
Don Weisbeck, Mayor of Brooks, Alberta, has seen the economic impact on his community, and he isn’t waiting for heads of state to iron out the problems. Last week, Weisbeck traveled through Montana on a goodwill tour hyping a “Border Beef Rally.” Meeting with mayors, county commissioners and newspapers including the Indy, Weisbeck asked for his neighbors’ support and newspaper ink. Staged in Coutts, Alberta, on July 26, the rally exceeded the mayor’s expectations.
“Depending on what newspaper you read, estimates went from about 2,000 to 10,000,” he says. “But we know we served about 15,000 [hamburger] patties.”
Weisbeck says that the rally was such a success that he and an alderman from Calgary are thinking of staging rallies across the entire U.S./Canadian border.
“That’s the answer now,” he says. “We need to go across the border and talk to the stock growers associations and the American people. We’re certainly not going to do it by staying home.”