As a non-profit organisation, PETA India lacks a significant advertising budget and relies on creativity and star support to reach the public with information about animal rights and to encourage them to help animals. Even though we spend only a miniscule amount on advertising, which essentially goes towards the erection of a few billboards, PETA India is a household name.
As PETA India’s vice president of celebrity and public relations, my role is to help grow PETA India’s support base, advance our campaigns, and maintain our strong brand image in order to influence as many people as possible to stop eating and wearing animals and impact behaviour in other ways that help animals. The stronger the public support, the easier it is for PETA India’s advocacy and corporate affairs staff to bring about positive change for animals in government and corporate policy. Recent examples that we have been instrumental in include BookMyShow and Paytm stopping the sale of tickets to animal circuses and dozens of state governments prohibiting the use of restrictive crates to rear pigs and cruel glue traps to catch rodents.
My team includes a colleague who assists with outreach regarding fashion designers and other celebrities, two who focus on media releases and placing stories about PETA India’s work in the press, and two who travel the country to deliver street-theatre style demonstrations and other outreach. All of PETA India’s celebrity supporters are volunteers.
Please see other recent examples of my team’s activities below.
- We recruited Bollywood actor Dia Mirza to be the voice of Asia’s first animatronic elephant, named Ellie. Ellie was conceptualised by PETA India as a way of delivering youth outreach, and she travels to schools to talk to children about how elephants suffer when they’re used in circuses or for rides and the importance of kindness to and empathy for all living, feeling beings. Ellie has already met 47,000 students at 52 schools.
- We worked with Lakme Fashion Week to successfully encourage 33 leading designers to refuse to use leather, including Gaurav Gupta, House of Masaba by Masaba Gupta, JADE by Monica and Karishma, péro by Aneeth Arora, Ranna Gill, Shyamal & Bhumika, Sonaakshi Raaj, Siddartha Tytler, Rina Dhaka, Vikram Phadnis, Rocky Star, Atsu Sekhose, dev r nil, and Bloni by Akshat Bansal.
- We conducted a head-turning demonstration outside luxury brand Hermès’ Mumbai store. PETA India director Poorva Joshipura volunteered for the stunt, in which she wore an alligator-skin costume and lay in a pool of “blood”, and PETA India called on the French fashion house to ban its use of exotic skins from alligators, crocodiles, and other animals who are tormented and killed for bags and accessories. The action received international press attention, including in The Times of India and The Free Press Journal.
- We garnered national media attention about vegan eating and spread awareness regarding the cruelty of animal experimentation by sending a vegan cake to the Indian Space Research Organisation. This was in celebration of India’s historic first south pole moon landing and to thank the organisation for taking a stand against the exploitation of animals by opting to send a humanoid robot into space instead of animals for the Gaganyaan project. News of our gift was covered by major outlets including NDTV, The Times of India, and India Today.
- We attracted international media attention by erecting a billboard starring Hollywood’s Pamela Anderson targeting G20 leaders arriving at Indira Gandhi International Airport. The billboard aimed to draw attention to the role of meat, egg, and dairy production in the climate catastrophe, the effects of which include high temperatures, droughts, and floods, among other disasters, and it advised that going vegan is vital to addressing global challenges. Even though the billboard was removed by authorities soon after being erected, the impactful action was covered in India Today and EFE.
PETA India’s tactics are often described as unusual or controversial, but this is by design. We don’t mind being viewed as offbeat or criticised if it means attention is drawn to animal rights issues. We’ve spread awareness to the point that PETA India receives 1000 calls a day regarding animal emergencies throughout the nation. Much of PETA India’s work that has benefitted animals can be attributed to the team I oversee – it is due in large part to our efforts that even people in small villages know who we are and that we urge them to be kind to all animals.