Hard Rock Cafe has ended a promotional campaign featuring a Photoshopped picture of an orangutan playing a guitar after facing accusations that the picture was outrageously offensive because the orangutan was playing a guitar.
The ad was intended to promote the chain’s new location in Kota Kinabalu, the capital of the state of Sabah in Malaysia and home to a famous wildlife refuge for the endangered animal. Seeing as Hard Rock Cafe’s symbol is a guitar, and Kota Kinabalu’s symbol is the orangutan, the marketing team probably didn’t think twice about combining the two. After all, they’ve done similar things before — like a raven-guitar combo for the Baltimore location and a bear-ukulele combo for Maui — without having any problems.
#related#But apparently, they were not thinking hard enough, because both the Sabah government and various wildlife groups freaked out.
According to the Associated Press, the Sabah Wildlife Department director called the ad a “distasteful exploitation” and expressed concerns that people might look at it and get the wrong impression about how the refuge treats its animals.
Now, I really don’t think that anyone would ever get the impression that Sabah was forcing its orangutans to play electric guitar regardless of what kind of Photoshops they saw, but maybe I’m just being ridiculous.
— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review