Five years ago, during Super Bowl XL, CareerBuilder aired its first Super Bowl commercials and made advertising history.
Featuring a troop of chimpanzees running an office, the three 30-second spots ranked in the top-10 best Super Bowl commercials. An online component called Monk-e-Mail went viral. In the first four months of the campaign, almost 30 million individual users visited the site sending millions of monkey-themed emails. Still today, the site receives visitors.
AdAge called it “history’s third-greatest human achievement, after only democracy and Velcro.” The Wall Street Journal named the Monk-e-Mail campaign the best of 2006. And it won a Webby for best viral marketing campaign.
Now, five years later, CareerBuilder is bringing back the monkeys.
The company won’t share any details other than to say there’s one 30-second spot. (The cost is about $3 million for a 30-second spot.) But somehow PETA, the radical animal rights organization, discovered CareerBuilder is using chimpanzees in its ad. It urged its members to email CareerBuilder CEO Matt Ferguson asking him “not to air this offensive commercial and agree never to exploit chimpanzees in future CareerBuilder ads and promotions.”
When PETA released a letter sent by actress Angelica Huston, its campaign attracted national attention.
Huston’s letter claims young chimpanzees of the kind used in commercials are “ripped from their mothers’ arms soon after birth.” Trainers employ “pain and punishment.”
“Can I please hear that CareerBuilder will not air a Super Bowl ad that features ape “actors” and that you will commit to never using great apes in future ads?” Huston asks.
CareerBuilder spokeswoman Jennifer Grasz said the company “supports the fair and humane treatment of all animals.” The American Humane Association was “on set during the entire filming to ensure the chimpanzees were treated with respect. This was very important to us.”
“During the production of our ad, we followed strict guidelines to ensure our chimpanzee stars were treated well and not harmed in any way. We hired top trainers known to provide the highest standard of care for their animals.”
Monster hasn’t said whether it will return for a second year. Last year, its fiddling beaver video ranked 10th in the USA Today AdPanel voting. CareerBuilder, which has yet to replicate its Super Bowl success, came in 51st with its Casual Fridays commercial.