Is the Banned PETA Ad a Hot Potato?

You may not agree with all the tactics of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), but you gotta appreciate their online marketing moxie. The organization said it created the sexy “Veggie Love” ad to run during this weekend’s Super Bowl, only to have it rejected by NBC. Obviously, the ad wasn’t meant to air on TV (video is NSFW), so it’s hoping for viral life online.

According to the PETA blog, the reasons NBC gave for not carrying the ad are more amusing than the ad itself, with the network requesting that shots of “licking pumpkin” and “rubbing asparagus on breast” be removed before NBC would reconsider.

Similar stunts have been pulled in the past, so will this combination of sex and censorship deliver a hit?

Viral video tracking firm Visible Measures said this latest PETA ad was off to an “auspicious” start but it will take some time to see how the campaign will shape up. While it doesn’t have data from the PETA site itself (we’ve contacted them for numbers), Visible Measures says the video has been viewed 16,000 times elsewhere since launching today with 14,000 of those plays coming from eBaum’s World. There have been 950 comments generated so far, and a handful of people are copying the ad and re-uploading it to YouTube under their own accounts indicating viral activity.

UPDATE: Visible Measures sent us its latest numbers, and “Veggie Love” hit 144,000 plays as of 8:30 PST.

UPDATE 1/18/2009: The ad has crossed the million play mark with PETA saying it generated 700,000 plays in the first 24 hours and Visible Measures reporting the playcount outside PETA’s site has topped 365,000.

Of course, the fact that we are playing into this whole attention ploy is not lost on us — and the ploy is fast becoming a cliche. GoDaddy had its saucy Danica Patrick Super Bowl ad rejected last year, and after MTV banned Sean “Puffy” Combs’ perfume ad last year, he immediately released a longer version of it on the web.