PETA offers ads as toll-reduction plan
Would you object to being greeted at a tollbooth by a sexy young woman clad only in salad if it reduced what you paid? People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals thinks not.
The animal rights organization is offering to pay the Maryland Transportation Authority to place an ad promoting a vegan lifestyle at the state's toll facilities, making the case that by accepting that money, the state could reduce a portion of its expected increase in tolls this year.
The ad PETA wants to display at tollbooths shows a healthy-looking young woman wrapped in nothing more than lettuce leaves along with the message: "Meat Takes a Toll on Your Health—Go Vegan."
PETA Vice President Bruce Friedrich sent a letter to Maryland Transportation Secretary Beverly Swaim-Staley, the authority's chairman, extolling the benefits of a diet free of animal products and urging acceptance of the ads.
"The ad revenue will help with the state's budget woes, and the message will save the state and drivers money on health care as commuters shift toward a vegan diet," he wrote.
PETA is well-known for generating inexpensive publicity by offering its provocative ads for use in highly visible venues such as the Super Bowl and getting turned down. But in the process it often gets plenty of free publicity -- including here -- while seldom having to dip into its coffers to actually pay for more than the cost of producing the ad.
Here's a modest suggestion to the authority: Don't reflexively turn PETA down. Let's see if the organization is actually willing to pay enough to have an appreciable impact on the tolls Marylanders pay. Challenge the group to show its offer has some meat on its bones. If it does, why not? Or get them in a bidding war with Esskay for naming rights to the Harbor Tunnel.
The authority is expected to raise tolls this year to meet its commitments to bondholders and to keep up with a growing backlog of maintenance work at its aging toll facilities. The authority's board is expected to make a specific proposal in May.