The Humane Society is a little bit like PETA, in that they both exist to support animal rights, but unlike PETA the Humane Society tends not to pull outrageous stunts that make people want to eat a double bacon cheeseburger just to spite them. Still, a new campaign designed to educate people about the living conditions of chickens that supply Costco’s eggs might just push that boundary.
The #CagedForCostco campaign, created for the Humane Society for the United States by agency Rokkan, does reveal some genuine horror: Costco’s eggs are laid by chickens who live in spaces smaller than the surface of an iPad, crammed together so tightly they can’t even spread their wings. To help people viscerally understand what that might be like, they hired actors, told them that they were going to look at an apartment in New York, and took them to the space to capture their reactions as they entered a room so tiny and squalid that the toilet, shower, and bed were all in the same place. (The toilet “doubles as a nightstand,” the smiling realtor explains, while the murphy bed lifts up to allow a person to shower.)
The people who visit the apartment are outraged, declaring that the space looks nothing like the pictures and freaking out about the black mould on the walls, while the “realtor” acts as though nothing is wrong–then, finally, the reveal that he’s not actually a realtor, the apartment isn’t actually for rent, and they’ve all been part of a happening to educate people about the horrible living conditions of Costco’s chickens. “Though we built the apartment just for this, it was almost plausible for Manhattan—a New York stereotype pushed slightly to the extreme,” says Rokkan creative director Jeff Samson. “A New York City apartment being described as a ‘cage’ can be accurate.”
That’s a fair point, and something that’s worth educating people about. It may push some boundaries, but it certainly does break through our finely honed layers of apathy to spread awareness about the situation with those chickens, so maybe that’s just how far we have to go these days.