PETA gets heat from Rudy over prostate cancer ads

NEW YORK: Got controversy? People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is mired in it with its latest PR campaign.

NEW YORK: Got controversy? People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is mired in it with its latest PR campaign.

NEW YORK: Got controversy? People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is mired in it with its latest PR campaign.

The animal-rights organization has erected billboards featuring New York mayor Rudy Giuliani adorning a milk mustache, with the caption 'Got prostate cancer?' - a play on the popular 'Got milk?' campaign.

But Giuliani, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer earlier this year, isn't buying into it. He claims the ads are 'tasteless' and 'unfortunate,' and is considering suing PETA for using his image without permission.

'My illness is a very public matter, which I am fine with,' the mayor said. 'But I don't like people exploiting it.'

PETA contends that drinking milk not only contributes to prostate cancer, it accelerates the development of the disease. The group's reps claim they sent a notice to Giuliani's office saying they were going to use his photo, but admit they were 'alerting' the mayor, not asking for permission.

'Giuliani is a public figure and he's been very public with his disease,' said Bruce Friedrich, PETA's vegetarian campaign coordinator. 'He doesn't have a case.'

If generating attention was PETA's goal, the ads seem to have paid off.

The group spent dollars 10,000 for four billboards, three in Wisconsin and one in Pennsylvania. Friedrich noted that PETA had a contract to put up a billboard in Fresno, CA, but the company backed out at the last minute.

While the billboards have won PETA media coverage across the globe, response to the ads hasn't exactly been positive. Critics have accused PETA of using scare tactics and misrepresenting the link between milk and prostate cancer.

'It's such incredibly poor taste,' said Gary Myers, president of Wisconsin-based food and beverage specialist Morgan & Myers. 'Sure, it gets impact, it gets discussion, it gets attention. But I do not believe that the end justifies the means.'

The ads were the brainchild of PETA president Ingrid Newkirk, whose father died of prostate cancer earlier this year. The organization is planning similar campaigns for diabetes and breast cancer.



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