This is a plea to everyone past, present, future, internal, and external, who have ever worked on the CareerBuilder.com account. I saw your "monkey business" campaign grow in popularity from 2005-2007, and was surprised to see it revisited for the 2011 SuperBowl. It is apparent that you consider this campaign to be successful, but there are some sad truths behind these commercials you might not be aware of. Truths that I think you, and the entire ad industry, should know about. (I won't even justify these spots by posting links to watch them.)
Chimpanzees go through a weaning period of almost 5 years in which they’re completely dependent on their mothers for survival and development- similar to human children. The chimpanzee “actors” featured in your campaign are all between the ages of two and seven years old- this is apparent by their small size and pale faces, as chimps’ faces get darker as they get older. Your young chimpanzee “actors” are all owned by a trainer, which means they’ve been taken from their mothers at birth and forced to forego this crucial part of their development.
Chimpanzees in captivity can live until they are 50-60 years old (a similar life span to humans). A chimp’s acting life usually ends before the age of 7 since their strength increases and, as a result, their “cuteness factor” decreases. Therefore, trainers often sell their older chimps to medical research facilities or to rundown roadside zoo attractions. These places tend to keep the chimps in small enclosures without proper access to the outdoors and without any form of activity to engage in. Essentially locking them in prison for the next 40+ years of their lives.
Chimpanzees and humans share 98.6% of the same DNA. This is partly why we find them so endearing and funny, but it’s also what makes them unsuitable for acting careers. They are not motivated by money since it has no value to them and, unlike dog and domestic animal actors, chimps get bored quickly with food incentives. Therefore, many trainers must resort to physical punishment and psychological abuse to get their chimpanzees to act on cue. You likely won’t see this happen on set since most of the damage has been done during training, but keep your eye out to see if the trainer carries a rolled up magazine or newspaper with him. At the training facility, the trainer will likely hide a metal rod in the rolled-up paper to hit the chimpanzees when they don’t behave or “act” appropriately- it only takes the chimpanzee to see this rolled-up paper to keep all eyes on the trainer.
A human smile is just that -- human. Chimpanzees smile using their bottom teeth only. When they show both upper and lower teeth, it’s typically a fear grimace or a threatening gesture. It is not natural for them to smile the way we do (it’s part of that 1.4% difference in our DNA).
These facts are true and real. I’m not Jane Goodall, but I have spent time learning about chimpanzees in captivity, and I know what kind of life “acting” chimpanzees lead. I’m not asking you to kill your campaign- I know it’s been far too successful for you to consider that. But I’m hoping that with the profits from this campaign, you will consider investing in computer-generated alternatives instead of hiring chimpanzee actors. Yes, it will cost more money and take more time to use CG. The alternative cost, however, is that these baby chimpanzees will face a long life of cruelty and exploitation…all in the name of our personal entertainment.
AXA Equitable is able to do this in their 800lb Gorilla campaign. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PETkHFxL-ks. Peter Jackson was able to do it for the 2005 remake of King Kong. 20th Century Fox did it with Planet of the Apes. Shit, even the Sharper Image sells an animatronic chimpanzee head. So if it's clearly possible to produce good work without causing harm to young chimpanzees, then why would you continue to do so? At least that's my 2 cents.