Aflac is up for another award — but not one to cheer about.
PETA has nominated Aflac for a PETA Litterbox Award for using a live, young ape in one of its latest commercials, "Orangutan." The annual "awards" single out companies that portray animals negatively or use creatures like apes in advertising.
"It involves the procurement of the apes," said Kristie Phelps, PETA assistant director of the animals in entertainment campaign. "They are usually ripped from their mothers when they're just infants, and of course, this is a difficult separation."
Furthermore, she said, apes are trained through dominance — and in some cases, sustain beatings and electrical shocks behind the scenes in order to learn.
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Phelps admitted PETA does not know which agency the orangutan used in the Aflac ad came from. But the animal rights group is now pushing Aflac to pull the ad and pledge to never use apes again in its advertisements.
In the "Orangutan" commercial, an employee asks her boss if the business has Aflac. Her boss tells her they have "something else" and gestures to an unruly orangutan hanging from a factory light, which represents another insurance company.
Aflac used the commercial — which first aired in January — to convey the idea that there is no substitute for Aflac. It was the 33rd installment of Aflac's commercial series produced by New York City-based the Kaplan Thaler Group.
Read more of this story in Tuesday's Ledger-Enquirer.