A US animal rights group is launching an anti-meat ad campaign to exploit the recent mad cow scare.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has seized on the first case of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) in American cattle as it tries to tempt the nation's carnivores away from meat in general.

Due to launch in the next two weeks, the campaign will feature a series of posters and print ads showing a chicken brandishing a machine gun. Captions will include, "If the cow doesn't get you, I might," and "If the beef doesn't kill you, I will."

PETA argues that no animal is fit for human consumption. "We're trying to explicitly point out to people that moving to other species of animals is not likely to protect you or your family," declared Bruce Friedrich, the group's director of vegan outreach.

The outdoor campaign will target what Friedrich terms "the chicken states" -- that is, Alabama, Arkansas, California and Georgia. Print ads, meanwhile, will run in alternative publications such as Village Voice in New York and Creative Loafing in Atlanta.

PETA is known for its shock tactics and publicity stunts. Its initial response to the stateside discovery of BSE over Christmas was to hand out "emergency vegetarian starter kits" outside grocery stores and restaurants. The group has also waged a long-running campaign against KFC, and this year filed a lawsuit against the restaurant chain alleging that its press releases amounted to deceptive advertising [WAMN: 09-Jul-03].

Data sourced from: Wall Street Journal Online; additional data by WARC staff