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Is the PETA sobbing burger ad real? Video is impossible to find

Bruno Cooke June 17, 2022
peta burger ad real
Photo by YANN SCHREIBER/AFP via Getty Images

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A recent article in satirical news site The Onion claims People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have “shocked and disgusted millions of viewers” with an “unsettling” ad featuring a crying burger performing an intimate act.

PETA has taken out video ads in the past, some of which have been provocative.

In 2016, for example, PETA produced Last Longer, a “steamy” ad that picked up millions of views online. It became the organisation’s most-viewed YouTube video of all time, and contains a comedic NSFW scene in which two couples – one vegan, one meat-eating – make love.

But is PETA’s apparently “unsettling” video ad, which supposedly features “disturbing footage of a pants-less man”, really real?

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Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images

Is the ‘unsettling’ PETA sobbing burger video ad real?

No. The video does not exist – or, at least, not as disseminated by PETA and reported by The Onion.

Of course there’s a chance off the back of the media attention received by the fake ad that someone will make a video of a burger sobbing while performing the intimate act.

But the ad itself is not real. The Onion is a satirical news site, meaning the content it publishes is supposed to amuse, not inform.

For example, among the “breaking news” pieces it published most recently are articles about tampon shortages being “solved” after a woman “shakes out her bag”, or an obviously non-existent #KillYourDad challenge sweeping TikTok.

Some less unsettling but still provocative PETA video ads to fill the gap

The organisation’s 2020 Super Bowl ad was apparently “too much for the NFL to handle”. Despite winning a Telly Award, it didn’t play during the 2020 event.

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Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images

But PETA has rounded up some of its edgier ads in a collection of “banned Super Bowl ads”. Find them here, or individually via the links below.

In 2016, PETA shared its Last Longer ad online. It juxtaposes the sexual performance of two men engaged in heterosexual intercourse. One is a meat-eater, the other vegan. The vegan lasts longer. Watch it here.

Veggie Love, from 2009, claims vegetarians “have better sex”. Watch it via YouTube

Milk Gone Wild, from 2011, is certainly one of PETA’s more unsettling video ads – it doesn’t feature any sobbing burgers, but one can imagine some viewers finding it udderly shocking.

What supposedly happens in PETA’s sobbing burger video ad?

Per The Onion’s description – remember, the ad itself is not real – PETA’s “dark, 30-second spot” features “a sobbing burger” performing a sex act on a “pants-less man”.

The ad is “completely silent except for soft whimpering sounds made by the ground beef sandwich”.

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Source: The Onion

“If it were up to the meat industry,” the ad purportedly says, “every burger would be crying. Americans buy nearly 50 billion burgers a year. Next time, think about who pays the most for it.” 

It ends with the man “zipping up his pants, taking a long drag from a cigarette, and casually throwing the burger in the trash”. Only, it doesn’t. Because it doesn’t exist.

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“Holy cow,” commented one Reddit user in a forum on the topic. There are 168K members in the r/TheOnion subreddit.

Seven days ago, someone posted a link to The Onion’s report on PETA’s “unsettling” burger ad, prompting one member to write: “I hate how I thought this was real.”

“Seemed perfectly reasonable to me until the last two words,” wrote another, “even then it took me a second.”

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And finally, if the report had you fooled, you are not alone. 

“For the first time in my life,” writes one long-time subscriber, “I have to admit I ate the onion.”

In other words, they fell for the joke. 

“I just spent the last ten mins searching for the ad on YouTube so I could watch the whole thing before reading the article. In my defence, PETA has some even more ridiculous ads.” See those linked above!

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Bruno is a novelist, amateur screenwriter and journalist with interests in digital media, storytelling, film and politics. He’s lived in France, China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, but returned to the UK for a degree (and because of the pandemic) in 2020. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Forge Press and The Friday Poem, and most are readable on Medium or onurbicycle.com.