Terry the Turkey
Vegans and animal lovers all over the UK and the world have been surprised by the new #TerryTheTurkey advertising campaign employed by phone company Vodafone in the lead up to Christmas 2015.
The advert is a unique concept for a TV commercial.
The short film shows a family having a turkey living with them, jumping through time to highlight how the bird is growing larger as the seasons change.
Just when the viewer thinks the winter snow and a trip to the garden shed is a sign that Terry is to be killed and plated for Christmas dinner, the twist emerges to show the family have used their Vodafone-powered technology to source a nut roast recipe thus saving the life of the family turkey.
Great news, right?
I didn’t find many like-minded people online when I voiced my concern that this advert was problematic in that it was still using live animals for the purpose of profit-making dressed up as entertainment.
Many of my Facebook followers expressed the opinion that this advert was a positive message, yet after reading their insights I still thought it was more loaded than just the nice message of saving the life of an animal.
I decided to find out a little more about the ad-making process and reached out to the people who made the #TerryTheTurkey advert.
Following is a short Q&A I carried out via email with Vicki Maguire. Vicki is the Deputy Executive Creative Director at Grey London, the agency charged with devising the Vodafone Christmas campaign.
Vicki kindly took time out of her extremely busy schedule to answer the following questions I put to her:
1. Your advert has given a lot of compassionate people something to smile about as it shows a turkey being given a second chance at life when a family opt for nut roast. How was the concept first devised? Was it inspired by any vegans in the office or by a team member’s personal life perhaps?
Christmas is the season of goodwill. Vodafone’s technology brings people together. We thought we’d take a different tack.
Our dad uses technology to rear a turkey, by the time Christmas comes around he’s part of the family. Sometimes technology gets bad press for making people self obsessed. This ad demonstrates that couldn’t be further from the truth.
We were sitting around talking when Howard, a guy in our team, told us a story of how a friend of his had become vegetarian when his family found a live chicken. I think there’s something about being that close to an animal that brings out your protective instincts.
A couple of us are vegetarian and two are vegan, but non of us are having turkey this year! Our Director Kevin Thomas is a die-hard veggie, that’s why the script appealed to him.
2. What a lot of people don’t know is that Terry is actually played by eight different birds throughout the advert. Did all of these animals come from the same place? How did your team source the turkeys for the campaign?
We picked an accredited British breeder who had turkeys at various stages of development. The story goes from young Terry to fully mature Terry. I’ll be honest and say I used to think turkeys were ugly, but now I love them. They are actually very smart and they love playing football.
3. The happy ending for the eight Terry turkeys is that they are now all living a life of peace on Farm Animal Rescue Sanctuary in Warwickshire. How did the team decide where the turkeys would end up?
As soon as we picked up the phone to Farm Animal Rescue we knew they were the ones to give our Terrys a good home. Their love for their charges really shines through!
4. Even though the advert has only been live for a few days, the online reaction has been phenomenal. Apart from helping your client raise awareness for its brand, is there anything else you hope for from #TerryTheTurkey campaign?
We’ve been blown away by the reaction to the campaign. It’s funny when you see it in an ad break also selling turkey for £3 a kilo. It makes you think about what really matters at Christmas.
In all seriousness we are having nut roast! A turkey is for life, not for Christmas.
Watch the video above and let me know what you think in the comments.
I am grateful to know the turkeys used in the advert now live in a sanctuary and that many people are being exposed to the idea of compassion for animals.
However I am staunchly opposed to the use of live animals in entertainment and advertising, especially when the animals in question have been sourced from a professional breeder. Buying or sourcing animals from breeders creates demand and puts money into the pockets of people profiting from commodifying animals.
What do you all think? Does the good done by the #TerryTheTurkey advert outweigh the negatives or as vegans should we always have a strong stance against the use of animals in advertising?
Would your opinion be different if the product being sold to us via the advert was actually a vegan product (such as the nut roast) and not a phone service?
I would love to hear your thoughts.