Change makers: Lynx

The organisation's Dumb Animals campaign made wearing fur socially unacceptable and was an early example of consumer-driven campaigning

Lynx's Dumb Animals campaign changed public attitudes towards fur
Lynx's Dumb Animals campaign changed public attitudes towards fur

The Dumb Animals campaign launched by the anti-fur organisation Lynx in the mid-1980s helped to turn consumer attitudes against wearing fur and contributed to the demise of the fur trade in the UK.

The campaign was shot for free by the photographer David Bailey and featured posters and a cinema advertisement showing a catwalk model dragging a blood-soaked fur coat with the slogan: "It takes up to 40 dumb animals to make a fur coat. But only one to wear it."

The advertising agency Yellowhammer provided input at no cost. Along with the innovative graphic style, the message was direct and was intended to make fur-wearers into social pariahs, rather than simply focusing on the pain inflicted on animals.

Mark Glover, who co-founded Lynx and went on to establish Respect for Animals, which continues the anti-fur campaign, believes that the poster's powerful negative advertising techniques have helped to change UK society.

"It was so dramatic that it was frequently referred to in the press whenever there was an article about fur protests or the issue of wearing fur," he says. "The campaign got trendy and was one of the first pieces of consumer-driven campaigning."

Glover says that the impact of the poster was huge and many people still remember it today. The campaign had a phenomenal effect, he says, because at the time the reach of the fur trade was massive: every Debenhams store, for example, had a fur department and many towns and cities had fur shops.

"The tide turned as people saw the association between supposed glamour and something unpleasant," he says. "Instead of fur coats being admired, they quickly became something to be ashamed of."

Glover says the posters were also ground-breaking because it was the first time that an organisation had used outdoor advertising in an overt campaigning role.

The image, which is now owned by Respect for Animals, was frequently reproduced by the media in order to illustrate articles about the fur trade. It provided a platform for Glover to gain media coverage and to explain to the public what was wrong with wearing fur.

"I have had a very long association with this campaign and in some ways it has been difficult, because it is almost as if we did our best work all that time ago," he says. "In that sense, it is very difficult to live up to it."

Expert view: Chloe Allan, Brand communication planner, the Good Agency

This campaign was brave, but it was also lucky enough to benefit from the social trends and beliefs of the time. A fur coat was considered a display of wealth and, in a political landscape increasingly divided by class, this gave people yet another reason to chastise the wearer. Another factor was that fur was also easy to spot - the £2, sweatshop-produced T-shirt is less so, unfortunately.

This campaign spearheaded one of the biggest changes in consumer attitudes and aspirations. It made the nation sit up, think and change what they wore. The question today is how could this be achieved with other fashion issues? Sweatshop conditions and low wages have been increasing slowly for years with no such dramatic change of opinion.

In a landscape that is less politicised, with products that are just as exploitative but less visible than fur, we need to consider what cultural trends we can now work with - not only to make our messages heard, but also to make real change happen.

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