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In the News: Billboards and Television Ads

In 1999, Gary aroused a storm of controversy by erecting several billboards and TV ads in Detroit to protest circuses, fur, and vivisection

ADAPTT's anti-fur billboard was erected in November 1999 along northbound Lodge Fwy. at 8 Mile Rd.

Freeway Banners Take up Dilemma of Life and Death

By Tom Greenwood

The following excerpts appeared in the Commuting section of The Detroit News on December 4, 1998.

Sometimes the journey to work is more than just a commute. Sometimes it's an ironic ride that veers between our appetites for food and philosophy.

At the Warren I/75 overpass, there was another banner. Measuring 25 feet by 5 feet, it said: "Holidays are Murder on Turkeys." The banner was sponsored by PETA and ADAPTT. The groups were protesting the slaughter of turkeys—primarily during the holiday season—for human consumption.

I also located one of the turkey people. His name is Gary Yourofsky, a native of Royal Oak, and founder of ADAPTT. Earlier that day Yourofsky had picketed in front of the federal building in Detroit threatening to burn the British flag to protest vivisection in the country. The flag was spared. He also has been arrested four times for protesting the treatment of animals in circuses and rodeos and is facing trial in Canada for allegedly helping to release a couple thousand mink from a fur farm near Chatham in 1997.

Yourofsky said he was a banner bearer to tell commuters what a "vile and vicious holiday Thanksgiving really is."

"Christmas and Thanksgiving are masked in false benevolence in that 40 million turkeys are murdered for the holidays," Yourofsky said. "Not to mention Native Americans, which is another issue altogether."

Billboard Rips Circuses for Animal Acts

By Kim North Shine

The following excerpts appeared in The Detroit Free Press on September 8, 1999.

The circus is coming to town, and an eye-catching billboard is here to greet it. More important to the people who paid for the sign, it will scream out a message to thousands of drivers along southbound I-75 near West Grand Blvd. in Detroit: "Chained, caged and abused for your entertainment. The circus sucks!"

Next to the words are three pictures: A caged tiger, a caged lion, and a chained elephant. Circled in red are the shackles around the ankle and a chain tethering the elephant to a wall.

ADAPTT's anti-circus billboard was erected on September 3, 1999 along 1-75 and West Grand Blvd. in Detroit.

A Royal Oak animal rights group, ADAPTT, raised $5,000 for the sign, which went up Friday near the Ambassador Bridge. "I truly believe without a doubt that the circus is an animal slavery enterprise. Animals endure vicious beatings, endless confinement with chains or cages, forced trickery and torturous hours of non air-conditioned transportation," said Gary Yourofsky, president of ADAPTT. Last year the group circulated a proposal to several cities asking that they outlaw circuses with animal acts. Detroit Zoo Director Ron Kagan endorsed that proposal, saying the travel and training of the animals is cruel.

Said Paula Witt, spokeswoman for the UniverSoul Circus: "We understand their concerns. Whether its people or animals, we are opposed to cruelty or mistreatment. ...And we support all efforts to monitor and regulate the treatment of animals." The circus starts today at Chene Park in Detroit and runs through September 19. Ringling Bros. comes to Detroit October 7-10. UniverSoul has never been cited by federal regulators for poor animal treatment; Ringling was cited last year by the USDA for the deaths of an elephant, a sea lion and a tiger.

Animal Rights Advocates Protest Circus in Detroit

By The Associated Press

The following article appeared in The Ann Arbor News on September 8, 1999.

The circus is coming to town, but one eye-catching billboard isn't giving it a warm welcome.

The billboard along I-75 near downtown, says, "Chained, caged and abused for your entertainment. The circus sucks!" It also shows a caged tiger, a caged lion and a chained elephant, shackles around their ankles and a chain tethering the elephant to a wall.

A Royal Oak animal rights group, ADAPTT, raised $5,000 for the sign, which went up Friday. The UniverSoul Circus starts Wednesday at Chene Park and runs through Sept. 19.

"I truly believe without a doubt that the circus is an animal slavery enterprise," said Gary Yourofsky, the group's president. "Animals endure vicious beatings, endless confinement with chains or cages, forced trickery and torturous hours of non air-conditioned transportation."

Last year the group circulated a proposal to several cities asking that they outlaw circuses with animal acts.

"We understand their concerns," Said Paula Witt, spokeswoman for the UniverSoul Circus. "We are opposed to cruelty or mistreatment. ...And we support all efforts to monitor and regulate the treatment of animals."

Animal Rights Group Slams Detroit Circus on I-75 Sign

By The Associated Press

The following article appeared in The Grand Rapids Press on September 9, 1999.

The circus is coming to town, but one eye-catching billboard isn't giving it a warm welcome.

The billboard along I-75 near downtown, says, "Chained, caged and abused for your entertainment. The circus sucks!" It also shows a caged tiger, a caged lion and a chained elephant, shackles around their ankles and a chain tethering the elephant to a wall.

A Royal Oak animal rights group, ADAPTT, raised $5,000 for the sign, which went up Friday. The UniverSoul Circus starts Wednesday at Chene Park and runs through Sept. 19.

"I truly believe without a doubt that the circus is an animal slavery enterprise," said Gary Yourofsky, the group's president. "Animals endure vicious beatings, endless confinement with chains or cages, forced trickery and torturous hours of non air-conditioned transportation."

Last year the group circulated a proposal to several cities asking that they outlaw circuses with animal acts.

"We understand their concerns," Said Paula Witt, spokeswoman for the UniverSoul Circus. "We are opposed to cruelty or mistreatment. ...And we support all efforts to monitor and regulate the treatment of animals."

UniverSoul has never been cited by federal regulators for poor animal treatment. The Ringling Bros., which will come to Detroit Oct. 7-10, was cited last year by the USDA for the deaths of an elephant, a sea lion and a tiger. Deaths of circus animals and fatal attacks on their trainers are rare, as are animal rampages, circus leaders say.

Billboard Targets Fur Wearers

By Kim North Shine

The following excerpts appeared in The Detroit Free Press on November 18, 1999.

Just as fur coats are coming out of storage, a billboard has risen above a major Detroit freeway to remind people who originally wore the plush garments.

The graphic antifur ad, on northbound Lodge Fwy. at 8 Mile Rd., went up overnight Wednesday. It shows a bloody, skinned fox head—although it's hard to tell exactly what animal it is—on a fur background. The picture is accompanied by a white-lettered caption that takes a shot at fur-coat wearers: "Here's the rest of your fur coat. Have a nice day while she bleeds to death."

ADAPTT's anti-fur billboard was erected in November 1999 along northbound Lodge Fwy. at 8 Mile Rd.

Royal Oak resident Gary Yourofsky, president of the nonprofit ADAPTT, designed the ad. His group and the national group In Defense of Animals paid $4,150 for the billboard, Yourofsky said. It will be up for at least 60 days.

Yourofsky, 29, doesn't apologize if the billboard is offensive. In September, ADAPTT posted an anti-circus billboard at I-75 at West Grand Blvd. The latest billboard coincides with the start of 16 days of national protests against department stores that sell furs. Locally, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue are the targets.

"People should be offended by what's happening to these animals. People shouldn't think they are too precious to be offended. What I'm hoping is that people turn around, get my number and call me and let me explain to them what's going on," Yourofsky said.

Yourofsky and other groups whose goal is to abolish the fur trade say the animals live in tiny, dirty cages. They say they're denied the outdoors, including their (mink) popular pastime of swimming. They also say the animals are killed in inhumane ways such as anal electrocution and neck-breaking.

Yourofsky served time earlier this year in a Canadian prison for releasing thousands of mink from an Ontario fur farm. He said he speaks for animals who deserve better lives. "We just want to make people think. Is what we're doing to animals right?"

Koalas, Nevil, Fur, etc.

The following comment by the editors of The Detroit News appeared on the editorial page on November 20, 1999.

SIGNS OF THE TIMES: A new billboard sign on the northbound Lodge Fwy. at 8 Mile Road, posted by an anti-fur organization, shows a gruesome skinned head of an animal and announces: "Here's the rest of your fur coat." Meanwhile, Internet journalist Matt Drudge has been ordered by Fox News Network not to show pictures of a human fetus on his TV show as part of his anti-abortion commentary.

Animal Rights Activist Gets TV Station to Air Graphic Commercial

By Christy Strawser

The following excerpts appeared in The Daily Tribune (Royal Oak, Michigan) on December 28, 1999.

In a 45-minute extemporaneous address, animal rights activist Gary Yourofsky convinced Channel 7 (WXYZ-ABC) executives to air the most graphic acts of animal violence in Detroit television history.

His final 30-second commercial protesting furs as fashion aired Monday. The commercials Yourofsky, 28, persuaded the network to air over the holiday weekend were filled with images of animals writhing in traps, being electrocuted and dying in other ways.

A voice-over tells the audience that "every year millions of animals are confined in tiny cages and killed by anal and genital electrocutions, gassings and neck-breakings. Sometimes they're even skinned alive."

The station stopped the footage short of showing an animal actually die, which was the only compromise Yourofsky said he was willing to make.

"I'm pretty pleased with the outcome," said Yourofsky, president of the Royal Oak-based ADAPTT. "It was revolutionary. Nothing like that has ever aired."

Animal rights activists across the country have tried for years to get similar footage on the airwaves. But they've always been rejected.

Yourofsky said it was a speech from the heart that convinced the local station his commercial was airable. It was sponsored by the California-based group In Defense of Animals.

"I just talked, basically condemning injustice," he said. Then he showed executives the footage he wanted to air. "It worked," he said. "When it was over, the room was visibly shaken."

It was a difficult decision to let the $2,000 commercial run, said Bob Silva, general sales manager for Channel 7. But, he added, it seemed to be the right one. And the station hasn't heard otherwise from many people. "The funny thing is that we got only a handful of letters," Silva said. "And maybe six or seven phone calls. There hasn't been a tremendous amount of feedback."

A good number of the responses came from people who supported the commercial, he said. But there was an outcry from some local furriers. A Fur Commission USA spokeswoman contacted the station, saying the commercial has false content.

Yourofsky disagrees, saying everything in his commercial is correct. "We're standing up for the truth," he said.

Controversy is nothing new to the substitute teacher, who said he's been arrested 5 or 6 times in the last several years at demonstrations protesting animal abuse. Most recently he spent 77 days imprisoned in London, Ontario, for sneaking onto a fur farm and releasing 1,500 mink. He was sentenced for burglary, mischief and possession of burglary tools.

But it didn't deter Yourofsky, who, with the help of fellow ADAPTT supporters, put up a graphic billboard on the Lodge Fwy. recently with a picture of a skinned fox, trying to deter people from purchasing fur.

"I want people not to buy fur, period. I have no intention of stopping," he said.

Activist Suing WXYZ to get Video Back

By Christy Strawser

The following article appeared in The Daily Tribune (Royal Oak, Michigan) on February 17, 2000.

An animal rights activist is readying a legal battle against a local television station over a videotape he claims it owes him. Activist Gary Yourofsky of Royal Oak filed a lawsuit recently in Southfield's 46th District Court, claiming that WXYZ-TV/Channel 7 kept the master copy of a tape featuring slaughtered animals.

Yourofsky contends that he owns the commercial on the tape—though the television station paid for it (the tape)—and said it won't release it for fear of repercussions from furrier advertisers.

Without the master tape, Yourofsky said he can't air the commercial on any other station.

Channel 7 general sales manager Bob Silva said it seems that Yourofsky is making a big deal out of nothing. He said the station keeps master copies of all of its commercials, and predicts the issue will probably be settled out of court. But Yourofsky is preparing for a fight.

"Why should I pay to redo it?" Yourofsky asked. "If they don't return it, I'll make their lives miserable. I'll protest the hell out of them."

Silva said the activist filed the suit without ever putting in writing a request to keep the tape the station produced for him. He said if Yourofsky had, Channel 7 would probably have just given him the tape.

Yourofsky, the 28-year-old president of ADAPTT—an animal rights organization—contends that he was turned down when he asked for the master tape. He said he was told the station owned it. In the lawsuit, Yourofsky also is asking to recover the $2,000 he paid to air the ads at the end of last year. "I'm not out here to make friends," he said. "But I've been vilified for no good reason."

The commercials Yourofsky is trying to recover showed the most graphic acts of violence aired in Detroit television history. They depicted animals writhing in traps, being electrocuted and dying in other ways. A voice-over told the audience that "every year millions of animals are confined in tiny cages and killed by anal and genital electrocutions, gassings, and neck-breakings. Sometimes they're even skinned alive."

National fur organizations protested saying animals aren't skinned alive. But locally it didn't raise much commotion. Silva said Channel 7 received a handful of letters and maybe 6 or 7 phone calls about the commercials. One of those who protested said the station should never have aired the spots.

"These people are fanatics," said the owner of a local fur shop, who asked to remain anonymous for his safety. "We're not dealing with people who are civil. And the agenda they're pushing is wrong."

Yourofsky, who's been arrested five or six times in the last several years, remains strong in his cause. "Just like in this case, it always comes down to money," he said. "But we're right and they're wrong."

Sign of the Times

By Gary Yourofsky

The following article appeared in the Sept./Oct. 2000 edition of The Animals' Agenda.

Since the entire planet has been inundated with endless lies about how animals are treated at circuses, rodeos, fur farms, factory farms, slaughterhouses and research labs, it is our duty to inundate the public with the truth.

As a movement, we have done a poor job of exposing—via advertising—the suffering that our planetary companions endure. A few billboards here and there. Some radio spots. And very few, if any, TV ads. Our lack of advertising allows the animal killers to continue their carnage with low visibility. Yet, by engaging in advertising, animal advocates can expose the abusers as the extreme terrorists that they are.

All forms of advertisements must be done in order to de-program the masses who unknowingly have been transformed into mindless, animal-abusing robots. It is partly our fault for not continually inundating the public with the graphic truth about every premeditated form of animal slavery and animal murder.

ADAPTT, Michigan's most active animal liberation organization, has always been uncompromisingly truthful when discussing the depraved tradition of human-to-animal slavery.

Since September 1999, ADAPTT has erected three billboards. One, which reads "Chained, caged and abused for your entertainment. The Circus Sucks," cost $4,650 and went up on I-75 in Detroit and stayed there for two months. Vision Media, the billboard company that ran all of our ads, was sympathetic to the cause, so it remained up for an additional 90 days. Nearly 100,000 motorists each day observed the ad, which included images of a chained elephant, a caged lion and a caged tiger.

ADAPTT felt the "Circus Sucks" tag line would catch on with the younger crowd, and it did. Plus, when the TV and radio outlets covered the ad, it repeated the line this way: "Local activists have sent a strong message to the circus industry. They've sponsored a billboard proclaiming, "The Circus Sucks."

ADAPTT's compassionate advertising ruckus continued on The Lodge Fwy. last November with the help of In Defense of Animals. The $4,000 anti-fur billboard showed a bloodied, skinned fox with the tag line, "Here's the rest of your fur coat. Have a nice day while she bleeds to death." More than 50,000 motorists each day were given the opportunity to think about the deadly fur trade.

ADAPTT and IDA then teamed up for another billboard on the same freeway. This one said, "Stop animal torture. Boycott Procter & Gamble" and went up in May, accompanied by several graphic photos of abused rabbits. The best part of all three billboard campaigns is that additional media was garnered from newspaper, TV and radio coverage, which increased the outreach and reduced the cost of the ad.

When erecting a billboard, sending press releases and making phone calls to other media outlets are a must. Play up the angle that it is thought-provoking, graphic, shocking, truthful and pithy. Most of the time, reporters will bite.

If you are interested in billboard advertising, contact all the companies in your area. Although the bigger ones will be more hesitant to erect controversial ads, the smaller ones often will jump on board.

Billboard companies can create the artwork for your campaign for about $1,000, but you can haggle for a better deal or supply artwork via an animal-friendly graphic artist, which will reduce the cost, too. Some groups who have done their own billboards might allow you to borrow the vinyl (artwork) for free as well.

Stand firm and explain that you simply want the right to condemn animal suffering while most companies advertise to condone it. Stay solid. Be honest. Know your issues. Be eloquent. Insist on your right to advertise truthfully and powerfully with graphic images.

After seeing the skinned-fox billboard, Witko Indoor Advertising, a company that displays ads in restaurant and bar restrooms, donated a few hundred at-cost ads to help galvanize ADAPTT's anti-fur campaign. Witko representatives said if restroom ads are available in your area, the company will offer advertising space at a slightly reduced rate. Contact Witko at 734-261-1092 or www.witko.com.

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