NEW YORK – Subaru has turned tail and agreed to modify a commercial that shows a mother and daughter releasing a rabbit in the woods.
Animal activist group complained the ad could encourage people to abandon their domesticated pets, which can't survive in the wilderness.
"Setting a domestic rabbit ‘free' into the ‘wild' leads to a horrible death for the rabbit," according information posted on the House Rabbit Society's Web site, a national rabbit-care organization, based in Richmond, Ca.
The group wants the automaker to pull the ads — which began running 10 days ago — until they're changed, a move Subaru has so far been unwilling to make.
"It's a commercial, a 30-second spot, it's not a motion picture that we were creating," says Subaru spokesman Rob Moran. "The intention was a mother and a daughter going into the woods to do a noble deed, that's what we were trying to communicate."
Moran declined to say how the spot will change or when.
Subaru officials say the ad depicts the "admirable" release of a wild rabbit, and that the rabbit used in the spot, was a cottontail, a breed indigenous to the U.S.
This is not the first time this year that the TV ad market has turned into battleground for animal rights.
Last fall Jeep canceled a national campaign when sport hunters complained they were vilified when by an ad for its SUV. That ad showed an outdoorsman with two deer apparently feigning death while tied to his trunk. He sets them free after two hunters walk away.
On the West coast, the California Milk Advisory board is battling PETA over ads that depict happy cows in bucolic pastures. PETA says the California cows are anything but happy since they live filthy grassless lots, are forced to give too much milk and are separated from their calves too soon.