Yale researchers and advertising executives have created the first ad campaign aimed at animals. The targets in question are a group of captive capuchin monkeys with a taste for sugary foods. The experiment introduces two ‘brands’ of jello treats to the monkeys, identical in every way except for color. The goal is see whether billboard advertisements placed around the cage can persuade the monkeys to prefer Color A over Color B.
The posters are the distillation of pretty much everything us humans find appealing in advertisements: sex and power. Previous experiments have showed that the monkeys will ‘pay’ for images of sexy female bottoms and high-ranking males, so the two ads depict the product in association with a female monkey’s exposed genitals and with the troop’s alpha male.
We can only hope that the experiment proves a success. We already know that monkeys understand a currency-based economy, and that crows can be trained to find coins to use in peanut vending machines. Once we’ve inducted other big-brained species into the human economy, advertisers will find unlimited environments where they can induce an artificial need in a natural audience. Maybe we can persuade dolphins to patrol off-shore oil rigs in exchange for cetacean porn, or teach elephants to willingly work on banana plantations, instead of rampaging through them.