Animal rights group behind banned ‘graphic violence’ ad parts ways with agency – work deemed not shocking enough

An anti-animal testing group has parted ways with its agency – because the agency’s work was not shocking enough.

Against Animal Cruelty Tasmania and Choose Cruelty Free appointed ad agency Rhubarb & Custard in April after the group’s ad – which featured a battered woman with make-up being applied to her face by a dog – was banned by the Ad Standards Bureau.

The outdoor ad, which had been up for a year, was taken down after a single complaint to the ad watchdog for ‘unjustified graphic violence’.

Against Animal Cruelty Tasmania billboard

But Rhubarb & Custard’s work, which took a softer approach by using hard-hitting copy instead of imagery, was not deemed shocking enough by the client.

“We parted ways with the client on good terms, and were offered compensation for the work we did,” said Helen Cowley, founder of Rhubarb & Custard. “They wanted something straighter, with a more shocking image. We said that’s cool, and recommended a freelancer.”

The agency presented a number of ads in a first round of presentations, which included a rabbit wearing lipstick and the line, ‘I’m beautiful enough thanks.’

Another execution went with the line, ‘Introducing terror eyes’ with an image of a rabbit wearing eye make up.

A third – this time using a human in the ad – went with the line: ‘Use me as your guinea pig and see how you like it.’

In a second round of presentations, the agency was asked to up the shock factor, and came up with a rabbit with chemicals injected into its eyes and the line, ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’.

Plans to replace the banned ad has been shelved for now, the AACT confirmed.

The client also said that the build up to the new campaign had been confused by a number of stakeholders unable to agree on the future direction of the campaign.


  1. Dave
    3 Aug 12
    12:41 pm

  2. So the client and agency didnt see eye-to-eye, ok move on. Nothing unusual in that. But do we really need to see the agency’s concepts? What a strange article.

  3. Red
    3 Aug 12
    1:45 pm

  4. I like the bunny in makeup. Now can you please stop showing that first ad on Mumbrella? Seriously ruining my lunch.

  5. Dave J
    3 Aug 12
    3:16 pm

  6. I agree with the above comments. I didn’t want to see this image in the first place and I certainly don’t want to see it almost every time I read a new post on Mumbrella. Could you please remove it from this article and NOT post it again.

  7. Ana
    3 Aug 12
    9:19 pm

  8. You have a problem with the advertisement? Seriously?
    That’s nothing compared what the animals that are being tested on are going through. More people should actually be educated in this.

    Ruining your lunch?…First world problems.

  9. Caroline
    6 Aug 12
    2:38 pm

  10. So it’s ok for WorkSafe to use disfigured (or battered) people as part of their safety campaign (which is great by the way), but it’s not ok for AACT? What’s the difference?