PETA, the animal rights group, may have found a new best friend this week. The $380 million USF FCU of Tampa dropped a “running of the bulls” reference in an online financial literacy contest after PETA and others objected.
In an April 13 letter, PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, demanded the credit union drop the reference to the event in Pamplona, Spain, which it called “cruel and barbaric.”
The reference was part of a social media promotion called “Are You the Best Bull?” and featuring the mascot of the University of South Florida Bulls. It prompted complaint from students, alumni and PETA.
“We commend USF for being a truly compassionate organization in taking this step,” said a spokesman for the Norfolk, Va.-based PETA.
Richard Skaggs, president/CEO of USF, told PETA “we share your sentiments” about animal cruelty and noted the original contest, which included an expense-paid prize to Pamplona, has been changed.
“I must confess we would not have structured the promotion in the current form had we considered the information you provided,” wrote Skaggs in a reply letter to PETA. He said the bull mascot tie-in “means nothing more than a financial market term that is often used when referencing the stock market such as the use of a ‘bear’ or ‘bull’ market.”
The primary purpose of the promotion, he said, is on building financial awareness “through various money savings tips and stories shared by those who participate in the contest.
Skaggs added, “In our various marketing pieces promoting the event, we focus on the winner having the opportunity of visiting Spain,” and that with the change “while our promotion covers the winner’s expenses to visit Spain, their itinerary and chosen activities are fully” up to the individual.
Skaggs said the specific “running the bulls” mention was formally dropped last Monday and new ads would contain no such citations. Overall the video promotion has worked well for USF with 40 entries, “which we consider quite a lot,” said Skaggs, adding the entries have been “fantastic.”