This Little Piggy Went to the Market: Free Range, Uncaged

I KNEW Free Range Studios HAD to be the animation movie team riffing on the tune ‘Superstition’ with dancing piggies and agribusiness villains to inspire voters to take action on industrial farm animal cruelty for HSUS. (playful video after the jump)

For children, the animation in “Uncaged” is cute and clever enough to get the point across, (and for teens to plea to parents to support Prop 2! FAQs here) without being sad and guilt-inducing for anyone who’s not vegan and still loves bacon and egg breakfasts.

I have GOT to hire their ‘creativity with a conscious‘ team as soon as I can afford it, as they know how to snag supporters and use the power of media for positive change. They clearly ‘get it’ and understand the nuances of balancing cause-marketing impact with viral media that appeals to the massive middle!

Whether it’s their original Store Wars spoof, (the organic rebellion with Cuke Skywalker, ChewBroccoli, Obi-Wan Cannoli organic foods)

Or their hit video The Meatrix which I wrote about here or the Mouth Revolution (with upside down chins demanding ‘real food!’ in Che Guevara style) it’s fun, effective media to digest for healthier kids!

If you’re unfamiliar with Free Range Studios’ work, you’re in for a treat…

Check out their animated (Bio)Daversity Code (on behalf of the World Wildlife Fund) or the animated short called Backwards Hamburger (based on the Fast Food Nation film) that’ll take teens’ junk food drive-throughs down a notch.

Free Range Studios takes serious subjects and make whimsical, memorable movies that leverage pop culture connections and appeal to youth in the same way we use our Shaping Youth ‘reality show’ hands-on games…

They use a similar ‘innovate to educate’ strategy that fits perfectly with our mission to ‘keep it fun, make it appealing.’

I even applied for one of their nonprofit grants where they ‘give back’ their animation services to orgs doing good things, but alas, it was shades of my Echoing Green semi-finalist fellowship outcome. (close but not close enough) I take heart in knowing there are so many worthy ‘do-gooders’ out there that the competition is STIFF!

I’m sure FRS has a line of suitors FAR more able to fork over the green than a little start-up like Shaping Youth, as they REALLY know how to make it easy for youth to ‘engage’ (as marketers say!)

Already I’ve posted the plight of the piggies and chickens on my own Facebook page with one click ease…And they make it a cinch to help their campaign by embedding widgets, tools, badges and videos to virally ‘forward to a friend’ in classic youth mode.

In their new animated short to vote yes on Prop 2, they shine the light on animal welfare, a passion of my own…For adults like me who cringe at the REAL videos of factory farming, this animated short works just fine…And for kids it’s a fun way to ‘free the animals’ using ‘passionista pester power’ in a positive way to educate their parents on the myths vs. facts and ask them to vote yes on Prop 2 for the animals if they’re not already inclined to do so. Smart.

Full disclosure, I’m an ardent animal fan and supporter of the Humane Society of the United States, so even though Shaping Youth is a ‘nonpartisan nonprofit’ dedicated to revealing ‘both sides’ (ok, here’s the opposition’s rebuttal) I’m clearly biased, as I strongly feel animals are sentient beings without the luxury of speech.

Animals communicate alright. Sometimes better than humans do in my house. And I’m vehement all creatures great and small should be treated with humane compassion.

It’s rather insulting that supposedly ‘superior’ intelligent beings need to be ‘required by law’ to do the right thing in a common sense, modest proposal for humane practices (similar to laws already in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, and Oregon) on cage confinement and health and food safety in factory farming.

I mean, c’mon Prop 2 gives ample time for compliance (imho, TOO long, 2015 to accommodate ‘farmer hardship’) —meanwhile, who’s looking out for the ‘hardship’ of the animals?

But then, dirty politics and rotten eggs with deep pockets abound…and only humans are capable of such antics. Here’s a recent snapshot:

Ca. for Humane Farms had to file a lawsuit in federal district court against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the American Egg Board (AEB) over the unlawful expenditure of $3 million in federal funds to campaign against the enactment of Prop 2, the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act!

Then last week, the Wall Street Journal probed opponents of Prop 2 in a price-fixing scandal, and the USDA got slapped with a stop order on running the massive anti-Prop 2 ads ignoring the law against government involvement in political campaigns. But get this…the slimy tactics have been brewing for a year!

Their site says, “As reported in Egg Industry magazine, the AEB “unanimously passed a motion at its 2007 fall meeting in California that $3 million be held in reserve to assist the state if necessary in the industry’s current battle with animal {advocates concerning] a referendum on the November 2008 ballot that would eliminate cage production in California.”

Egg Industry magazine? (Sheesh. Now THERE’s a media buy…;-)

Clearly this was ‘pre-meditated’ and purposeful (like kids stockpiling snowballs in a fort waiting for the right moment, or dare I say it? Eggs on Halloween night)

These dirty dealings scratch at the very root of a much deeper political problem of special interests in our country…

It’s backroom bungling like this at the federal level that NEEDS UNEARTHED and showcased in a huge media spotlight to shine on how public health gets squelched in favor of profiteering.

If our media/marketing machine likes ‘dirty laundry’ and ‘reality show’ drek so much, I say they’re missing a bet on Washington insider programming!

Feds earmarking funds for favors? Dealmakers ready to squash grassroots cause-marketing for industry pals? That deserves much more media exposure than any cute animated piggy viral video campaign can manage on its own!

These same ‘money talks’ escapades take place at the lobbyist levels to protect regulatory action on other vulnerable populations, including children’s issues and elder-care…When in doubt ‘buy it out’ seems to be the ‘easy fix’ for vested interests to drown out the mutterings of public health safety, fairness, wellness, in favor of a profit-driven culture.

If the collective conscience of the planet advocated for common sense and humanity over coinage and consumption, we wouldn’t NEED laws to act with humanity and compassion and teach folks right from wrong!

(Are you listening FCC product placement peeps? Industry execs? Self-rein has failed; vulnerable populations like young kids, animals and seniors should be OFF limits to corporate predators!)

Stepping off the soapbox now, but posing some universal questions:

Do you feel our society is akin to piggies wallowing in the mud? (of self-interest and greed) If so, what role has media and marketing played?

Have we become morally bankrupt as a nation? Or are we just in for a ‘market correction’ and a shift to a service culture of interdependence and eco-centric common good? Has the harsh, crass, coarseness and pursuit of profit over humanity impacted the worldview and actions of children and youth?

Or have youth triumphed over the messaging to dedicate themselves even further to ‘righting the wrongs’ in a consumption rebellion of our cultural missteps?

I’m mixed here…I see starstruck celebrity worship in media, and consumptionist values (Privileged, Gossip Girls, 90210 wannabes) offset by passionate millennials and youth activists as the most socially responsible generation in decades…

I see the ‘haves and have-nots’ becoming  more polarized by the hour, right down to the socioeconomic sneers of opposing teams and racial tension in our own middle school district volleyball games.

I see bubble-wrapped kids but I also see VERY young, ‘raised by wolves’ nomadic cherubs in packs…and scritch my head thinking, ‘where ARE there parents, REALLY?’

What about the kids in your world? And the animals? …And the elders?

Are humans being ‘crated and gated’ like farm animals in their own self-protected communities?

Or are they “free range kids?

Weigh in. Sound off. I’d love to hear more…

Meanwhile, hope you enjoy “Uncaged”…my animal-loving daughter sure did.

Kudos again, Free Range & HSUS…I hope it hits the top of the Viral Video charts! Vote Yes on Prop 2, Californians! (Call me a swine if you want; I already confessed my bias! 😉

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