Accepted Paper:

The animals are breaking out! Animals, agencies and TV advertising  


Louise Squire (University of Exeter)

Paper short abstract:

Recent portrayals of animals as "free agents" in television advertising are explored as a phenomenon of new ways of conceiving animals within a world of "environmental crisis".

Paper long abstract:

Television advertisements have recently begun to portray animals in new ways. Gone are cosy images of chimpanzees playing house, wearing flat-caps and frocks, and pouring cups of tea. The animals are breaking out! Mary, the cow (Muller yoghurt), is 'set free' on a beach to fulfil her dream of becoming a horse. An elephant (LG) climbs a tree, breaking through the forest canopy to view the world from a new perspective, and a car is given magnificent new tyres (Michelin) so that it can screech to a halt and allow creatures to cross 'the sad stretch of road' unharmed. In each of these cases, the quality of agency assigned to the animals portrayed is located in the very act of portraying them as freed, in turn contesting embedded notions of animal subjectivity. This paper asks what is behind this sudden need to consent to the freedom of animals, locating it in today's world of 'environmental crisis'. Taking a post-structuralist approach based on qualitative research I argue that what is portended in this bid to situate animals as 'actors' in a world of 'environmental crisis' is a desire to rematerialise the disappearing natural world.

Panel P26
Humans and non-human animals: different moral worlds?