When Cute is a Commodity- and When it Shouldn’t Be



fess up- it was the cute face that drew you to this blog!
fess up- it was the cute face that drew you to this blog!

We are a society that has been raised to believe that cute is a commodity.

See it. Want it. Gotta have it.

It’s the reason why Haul Videos are so popular with girls, and with the retailers that cater to them. Never watched one? Here’s one to try.

It’s why Facebook and Pinterest are filled with cute pictures of puppies and kittens.

It’s why tiger cubs are exploited (read more about it here), like they were for a photo-op with the Detroit Tigers recently.

Phil Coke with 4 week old cub
Phil Coke with 4 week old cub ( Carolos Osorio/ AP, from Detroit News)

It’s also why there are a myriad of messages out there for those of you who love animals. Do any of these ring a bell?

  • -Buy this product because there’s a cute dog in our ad.
  • -Buy from us because we donate to animal charities.
  • -Read my blog because I have the inside scoop on this product or training technique.
  • -Watch our show because we include dogs.

The reality is there are plenty of people out there that want your attention, and they’ll use whatever works to get it.

But it’s up to you to speak out when these folks cross the line.

I hope the Detroit Tigers photo-op is one instance that makes you angry. I hope you act on that anger by letting them know that exploiting animals for publicity is wrong. You can leave a message on their Facebook page or leave feedback on their website.

Not sure what to say? Here’s what I posted beneath the cub photos on their Facebook page:

I am sad that you are using exploited animals for your own gain. This cub is obviously in distress. I’m certain that its mother is nowhere in sight. I believe that if you do your homework, you will find this cub is one of many bred solely to make money. I don’t think this is the message your ball team means to promote. Perhaps instead you could partner with a true rescue such as Big Cat Rescue in Florida and promote responsible care of large cats and their habitat. That would certainly be a win-win for both of you, wouldn’t you agree?

Whatever you say, make sure you’re polite, yet forceful in letting it be known that you do not condone their actions.

By speaking up, you set the tone and let other entities know that animal abuse and exploitation isn’t cute.

See? You do have the power to make a difference. Don’t be afraid to use it.

49 thoughts on “When Cute is a Commodity- and When it Shouldn’t Be

  1. Good comment Rumpy. I was saying to the other half only last week how many adverts on telly have dogs (especially “cute” little ones) in them these days, when the product has absolutely nothing to do with dogs – like beer and banking services. It’s definitely getting more prevalent.

    1. That’s because marketers know that we respond to animals. During the recession, the one industry that did not lose ground was the pet industry. In some sectors, they actually made gains.

  2. I dont understnad the desire for exotic animals like that. They are cute in pictures and stories and nature videos, not when owned by humans. The few responsible experts in wild animals Ive seen who run rescue centers and such acknolwledge that they are not cute

    Happy Wednesday

    urban hounds

  3. This is Purrime Ministerettes. We stand for the purrotection of exotic cats. Them belong in free nature and sometimes in PM Office for a free fishie for all.


  4. This post saddens me for many reasons, two of them kind of personal…The Tigers train right here in Lakeland, about 3 miles from my home…and Dade City (where the cubs were from) – for shame! Looking at the location of the “park” it’s right in the middle of town…never should have been allowed…Checked Tigers FB page and the “cub” photos seem to have been removed…hope that public pressure influenced that and maybe next time some harebrained PR fool has such a dumb idea they’ll pass on it

    1. I posted my comments on Monday and there were plenty of folks who had commented before me, so I’m sure they want to let this thing die. However, the photos were also published in newspapers- the Detroit News and USA Today.

  5. I, too, hate exploitation and commercialism in any form. Those haul videos are awfully shallow.

    Still, I don’t think that is the only reason that Facebook and Pinterest are filled with cute cat and puppy pics. Not at all. We just enjoy our pets and appreciate their sweetness, their beauty, their zaniness, and how much joy they bring to their lives. Call me naive but that’s how I see it. I love my cats and dogs and enjoy sharing with others who do, too.

  6. I agree with you Rumpy and I’m angry if I see some commercials where animals are included, specially as a “trigger” … I feel sorry for the little tiger…

  7. That 4week cub looks so tortured to me…….was forced to make that face expression…..Very thoughtless idea to ” in a way” abuse those cute animals for their profit…. 😦

  8. Thank you for showing us about the Detroit photo “op”. We agree – this is exploitation and it’s so obvious the cub is not happy.

  9. That picture and exploitation definitely gets my motor running and NOT in a good way! Thank you for sharing! Any interest in joining me in a campaign I’m calling Animals4ISF? I’m not sure where to start but I want to unite a group of animals in a campaign to support the Ian Somerhalder Foundation. Check it out and let me know your thoughts! http://www.isfoundation.com/

    1. Thank you for your invitation, but instead of yet another group out there competing with others for funding and face time, I feel it would be better for animals if we all worked together as a united front under one umbrella. That is why I support HSUS and the ASPCA (both organizations work together on welfare legislation).

  10. Hello Rumpy,
    Excellent point you made with a very nice flare to it. Me and my human pet are just returning to word press. It couldn’t have been more perfect as I absolutely love what you wrote. That poor little cub didn’t even look cute. Your right when you said the poor cub looked terrified.
    I will take your advise and just tell them that I believe it’s not an act of kindness.

  11. This reminds me of the time that I was super annoyed at life because my parents talked to another human who said pugs were becoming a fashionable accessory. UH, not true! We’re actually living.

  12. Excellent topic and post. Your comment was very tasteful and didn’t just criticize without offering a solution/suggestions. This is part of the reason we have so many unwanted/feral dogs and cats in this country.

  13. Excellent blog, well written, well thought out and well presented. Shared and tweeted this. I will write the Detroit Tigers to express my disappointment and concern.

  14. No animal should be exploited as a commodity! I have a hard time hearing about a wild cat being declawed or a rehabilitated bear given soda pop to entertain the visitors – horrible – makes my blood boil a bit. Great Post!

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