cows are us

December 14, 2008



For the past years I have been noticing the use of cows in North American advertising. Being a vegetarian and having cows as one of my favorite animals, made me an easy target for those campaigns; which in my opinion are brilliant. The first campaign showcased here was created by Dallas’ advertising agency “The Richards Group“, for the Atlanta based restaurant chain Chick-Fil-A.



The slogan “Eat Mor Chikin” is used as if the cows were protesting against the amount of beef consumed in America, on an attempt to reconstruct American fast-food industry. The campaign directly targets McDonald’s, Burger King,  Wendy’s, and other hamburger based chain restaurants, focusing on educating customers to eat more chicken.


The creative team have used smart and sharp copywriting with misspelled words representing the cows illiteracy, and at the same time creating a more fun and relaxed boycott. The campaign started in 1994 with a single billboard and continues evolving, exploring new possibilities; and most of the times adjusting the jokes and sense of humor to the aesthetic of their different locations across America.


In some of the TV commercials, cows take more extreme action like in the one shown here; where they invade a football stadium landing on a burger vendor. The same interactivity has been brought to real life by using three-dimensional cows tagging massive billboards near the main freeways of American cities. I find the entire campaign brilliant, fun and very original. The creative team has done such a good job applying the concept to their target audience; by the use important icons of their culture, such as football.

Another brilliant, yet controversial campaign was created by the Los Angeles based “Deutsch Inc.”, for the Real California Cheese company. The slogan “real cheese comes from happy cows – happy cows come from California”, uses California’s geography, weather, and culture; which combined to clever copy-writing transmits the ideal environment for dairy farming.

The commercials are set on paradisiacal farms, where the sun shines and natural events such as earthquakes make the cows’ life more interesting. The parallel between the effects of the great Californian weather on its inhabitants, is here applied to the cows. In one of the commercials, the cows complain about the rainy season, which is represented by one single cloud in the sky. 

In another commercial, an Alaskan cow moves to California and loves the fact there is no snow on the ground. The Californian cows raise eyebrows for not knowing the word “snow”, even though in reality, it snows a bit in California. Another commercial shows two bulls hitting on some cows passing by. They use some slangs that a Californian “dude” would use to hit on a “chick”, talking about working out and other body conscious aspects.

Notwithstanding the remarkable advertising campaign, California Milk Advisory Board has encountered some legal issues along the way. Animals rights groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), have alleged the company is using false advertisement; making the audience believe that cows are raised in such utopian conditions. According to PETA, “Roughly one-third of California’s cows suffer from painful udder infections, and more than half suffer from other painful infections and illnesses”, amongst several other allegations.

happy cows

This is a very complicated issue for me, as a vegetarian and a visual communicator. I have always been aware of the reality of the majority of cattle farms, and that is one of the reasons why I originally decided to become a vegetarian, ten years ago. Nonetheless, I think the campaign is bright and effective, getting the attention of different groups with divergent opinions. Moreover, controversy is a sign of good advertising, right?

All the images used for this entry are copywrited and were extracted from the Chick-Fil-A and Real California Cheese websites.

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