The Italian high-end luxury fashion house Gucci has been using real captive tigers in its latest ad campaign, prompting many disappointed customers to complain about it for likely contributing to the animals’ suffering. 

The collection launched with this advertising campaign, named GucciTiger, is supposed to celebrate the Chinese Year of the Tiger, but by featuring real tigers ended up unwillingly showcasing the wrongs of using wild animals in advertising. The ads show models surrounded by the big cats while pretending to enjoy afternoon tea. In one of the photos, a woman wearing a tiger-adorned T-shirt holds a teacup while two tigers stand to either side.

Most wild animals who appear in films, TV, or ads, whether they are just sitting or performing in any way, have been trained by profit-seeking trainers who must persuade or force them, by using rewards or punishments. Many wild animals have experienced cruelty and trauma when forced to perform the amusing behaviours you see on the screens and ads. 

Responsible social media users have criticised Gucci’s campaign with comments such as “Animals are not an accessory”, “It’s not okay to have wild animals in advertising”, “The tiger is not a pet”, “Even if the images of this tiger were shot elsewhere, this is not okay”, or “Stop using animals for your advertising!”

Although in 2018 Gucci banned angora fur from their products, it seems they have forgotten wild animals. The company claims the tigers had been photographed in a safe environment, which was monitored by the animal welfare organisation American Humane — which, for being an animal welfare organisation instead of an animal rights organisation that advocates for veganism, supports the keeping of wild animals in captivity to be exploited for commercial purposes, as they have a “No Animals Were Harmed®” program.  Some other animal welfare organisations such as World Animal Protection (WAP) have criticised the campaign as “glorifying captive animals”, although, unsurprisingly, they do not make similar comments about captive animals kept for food.

In addition to Gucci, the organisation The Lion’s Share Fund is likely to also benefit economically from the exploitation of these tigers. On its website, it clearly shows they support the use of wild animals in the advertisement, as it says: “Through The Lion’s Share, the corporate world can now make a contribution each time an animal appears in their ads.” In the campaign image captions, Gucci writes that it supports The Lion’s Share Fund. 

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.