Ok so I don't want to become biased in my Is This PR? presentation but this one is about PETA, its controversial ads, and its responses to negative responses to these ads.
There are so many websites and blogs dedicated to anti-PETA rhetoric, like PETA Kills Animals and Anti-PETA (which is actually a website that contains links to other Anti-PETA websites/blogs). But the particular PR move from PETA that I am going to talk about has been written about by more than just PETA haters. Recently, they put up a billboard in Jacksonville, Fla. that depicted an overweight woman in a bikini with the words "Save the Whales" and "Lose the Blubber. Go Vegetarian." on it. This billboard has outraged people with its insensitivity to overweight people and to women. And there have been quite a few negative responses to the ad.
One of the most interesting things I found about this incident though is the lack of response from PETA and the responses I have been able to find have been insensitive and unapologetic themselves. Here's one from a woman who passed the billboard and felt personally offended - and the response from PETA she received. Here's another from Chattahbox that includes some quotes from the press release about the billboard (and here's the original press release). And, of course, here is one last article that directly mentions this ad while also talking about the power of social media to make this an even bigger issue than it would have been 20 years ago.
Overall, this is bad PR. PETA needs to learn how to make advertisements that don't offend the audience it is targeting. Also, a little humility in responses would help too. I know it's a radical group but this kind of PR won't get it anywhere.