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Advertising Industry Executives Launch First Ad Campaign Targeting Monkeys

Sex sells, and apparently not just for humans. New Scientist reports that a pair of advertising industry executives have launched the world’s first ad campaign targeting non-human primates– brown capuchin monkeys, to be exact. How, you ask? It’s simple. Really simple. Sex and power, it seems, are powerful influencers that transcend species.

"Screw this cricket shit… I'd rather have a Big Mac!" (Photo: Carlos Luna)

Keith Olwell and Elizabeth Kiehner were attending a TED talk last year, at which they learned that captive monkeys understand the concept of money. When subjected to economic games, they behave in ways similar to humans. The ad execs gambled that if the primates could grasp the idea of money, they might respond positively to advertising as well.

Kiehner and Olwell teamed up with Yale University primatologist Laurie Santos, who gave the TED talk, to create an ad campaign that will be unveiled this Saturday at the prestigious Cannes Lions Festival. The objective of the campaign is to make the capuchins change their behavior. Two brands of food will be created, likely different colors of jello, and targeted at the monkeys. One brand will be advertised, the other won’t. A billboard will be erected outside the monkeys’ residence.

And speaking of erections, being that monkeys have no language and very short attention spans, the content of the ads will be straightforward and explicit. One will show a graphic image of a female monkey with her genitals exposed next to ‘Brand A.’ Another will show the alpha male of the troop with ‘Brand A.’ “Monkeys have been shown in previous studies to really love photographs of alpha males and shots of genitals, and we think this will drive their purchasing habits,” Olwell told New Scientist.

“If [the monkeys] tend toward one  [brand] and not the other we’ll be witnessing preference shifting due to our advertising,” he added.

Kinda gives a whole new meaning to the term “monkey business!”

Here is Laurie Santos’ TED talk on monkey economics:

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