United Poultry Concerns January 10, 2002
UPC Letter Re: Offensive Carl's Jr Ad
Using A Live Chicken

Mr. Richard Zien, CEO
Mendelsohns/Zien Advertising Agency
11111 Santa Monica Blvd
Suite 2100
Los Angeles, CA 90025

Dear Mr. Zien:

As a follow up to our phone conversation today, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for talking with me about the TV advertisement that your agency produced for Carl's Restaurants that is currently airing in California, in which a half a dozen men in suits hold and handle a live chicken looking for the bird's "nuggets."

I would like to request that a copy of this advertisement be sent to our office as soon as possible to the following address:

United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
12325 Seaside Road, PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150

For the past two days our office has received complaints about the ad including these statements from California residents:

  • "I was disgusted by the Carl Jr's. ad I saw on TV tonight. It showed a bunch of men looking for a live chicken's 'nuggets.'"

  • "Tonight on TV I saw a dozen men in suits mishandling a live chicken looking for 'nuggets.'"

  • "I called Carl's head office and complained vehemently, and also CBS after seeing Carl's advertisement that has men looking for a live chicken's 'nuggets.'"

  • "Have you seen the ad of a live chicken being 'searched' for 'nuggets'? Isn't there a law against such treatment of animals on television?"

  • "The visuals were bad and the audio was equally revolting."

  • "Looking for a bird's 'nuggets'--What does this teach our children?"

  • "Carl's Jr. has no taste and I never would eat there. I shall ask my friends to do likewise."

As I said on the phone, I hoped to view the ad before issuing an Alert to our supporters via the Internet. However, it is clear from everyone's description, including yours, that even if the bird or birds used in the ad were not physically harmed during the filming, the ad portrays chickens in a degrading and demeaning manner, as "nuggets."

Chickens are sensitive individuals, Mr. Zien. They experience pain and suffering, and they are intelligent. The author of The Development of Brain and Behaviour in the Chicken (1995), Dr. Lesley Rogers, a specialist in avian physiology and ethology, says "it should be realized that even vastly improved intensive systems are unlikely to meet the cognitive demands of the hitherto underestimated chicken brain," and "with increased knowledge of the behaviour and cognitive abilities of the chicken has come the realization that the chicken is not an inferior species to be treated merely as a food source," and "it is now clear the birds have cognitive capacities equivalent to those of mammals, even primates."

While chickens constitute 98 percent of animals slaughtered for food in USDA establishments (8.7 billion were birds of whom 8.3 billion were chickens compared to 139.2 million mammals slaughtered in 2000), birds are not covered by the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Law (which isn't enforced anyway).

In conclusion, I request a copy of the ad and urge you to use your influence to have it removed from the air immediately. It is offensive. It appeals only to a low-grade sense of humor-the same kind of humor that considers it funny to see pictorial depictions of women's bodies carved up into various "grades" of meat. I respectfully urge you and your agency to dissociate yourselves from this kind of amusement.

Thank you again for your attention to my concerns and my request. I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible.


Karen Davis, PhD

Letter In response to LA Times Story:
What if Someone Went Looking for Your Nuggets?

17 Jan 2002
From: Rateeka Dayani
To: dana.parsons@latimes.com

Whether or not chickens have feelings is not the whole point. The point to take into consideration is that the chicken does not KNOW what's happening to her, why these men are probing and groping around her body under bright glaring lights, and why she's there in the first place. The chicken is no Jodie Foster. She does not know that she's being made the dubious star of some commercial flick designed to pander to the low-grade humour of low-grade people, who find it funny to see a bird just falling short of being raped on screen. The very fact that she's not aware why such things are being done to her body, and her terrified fear of what's going to come next, is more harm being done to her than an outright physical assault.

Regards, R. Dayani

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Chickens Are More Than 'Nugget' Machines


Re "What if Someone Went Looking for Your Nuggets?," Jan. 16:

Dana Parson's recent column about the Carl's Jr. commercial is a fair, well-done article. It may seem absurd to find wrong in a commercial that is obviously intending to be humorous, not offensive, but is it really so absurd to object to the poking and prodding of an animal that in many studies has been found to be both an intelligent and sensitive creature.

Objectifying animals leads to mistreatment, just as objectifying humans does. Perhaps if chickens were not just considered "nugget" and egg-emitting machines, their horrific treatment on factory farms, as well as in commercials, could improve.

Theresa Noble

Bryn Mawr, Pa.


Dana Parsons writes a fair column on the campaign by United Poultry Concerns to get Carl's Jr. restaurant to pull its TV ad depicting grown men searching for a live chicken's "nuggets." The idea that such an advertisement is demeaning to chickens may be laughed off by some, but it is important to realize the extent to which our treatment of animals is a result of portrayal of them in the media.

This advertisement essentially says to the public that chickens are to be thought of as mere commodities, not as living, feeling beings. Perhaps this is why the poultry industry makes so little effort to treat these animals with any compassion.

Chickens are raised in such filthy, cramped conditions that they can't even stretch their wings for their entire lives. Many are starved for up to two weeks to artificially induce the egg-laying process. In slaughterhouses, many chickens miss the killing blade and are boiled alive. Perhaps if we had more respect for chickens as a society, we would be more willing to treat them with respect as feeling, sentient beings.

Daniel Elstein

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Related Links:

United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150
FAX: 757-678-5070

(UPC Letter Re: Offensive Carl's Jr Ad Using A Live Chicken)

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