IN THE NEWS: Little Lucy threatens pig farmers' bacon

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IN THE NEWS: On AUG 3, 2008

TOMORROW in Canberra, senior executives of Australian Pork Ltd are meeting to draft a media battle plan in response to a sad-sounding little girl they had hoped would go away but now threatens the pig industry.

"We certainly could be hurt by this," says Australian Pork CEO Andrew Spencer. "We didn't want to come out and pour fuel on the flames, but I think it's got to a point where we have to make some sort of response."

What's got pig farmers squealing is a radio ad campaign by Animals Australia. It features a young child voicing the purportedly miserable life of a pregnant sow kept in confined quarters.

(Click here to listen to the radio ads)

In one ad, with the sound of babies crying in the background, the girl says: "Everybody's crying today. It's the same every day. It never stops I wish I could close my eyes and not wake up and then I wouldn't hear it any more."

Disturbing enough, but what's got talkback radio listeners complaining is the campaign's punchline, voiced by a deep-voiced man: "It is commonly accepted that a pig has the intelligence of a three-year-old child."

In fact, outrage is such that donations from horrified listeners are keeping the campaign running. "We only had enough money to pay for a week's worth of air time in the capital cities," says Glenys Oogjes, Animals Australia's executive director. "But the overwhelming public support means we are now in our fourth week and I don't know how long it's going to last."

The campaign, "Lucy speaks", was designed by Sydney creative director Josh Moore three years ago when he was working in New Zealand. Asked to tackle controversial pig-farming practices, such as the use of sow stalls, he came up with Lucy Speaks.

The Kiwi version of the campaign died because of a lack of money. But this time, as cash pours in, it is bringing home the bacon.

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