This campaign is in support of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Kari Whitman's foundation Ace of Hearts Dog Rescue, a 501c-3 dog rescue foundation dedicated to rescuing dogs, the day they are to be euthanized, from various Los Angeles shelters and placing them in loving homes. When asked how he became involved with PETA and Ace of Hearts, Steck explains, "In late 2010 a client of mine, Artist Jess Black, wanted to do something to raise awareness about how animals are tortured for the fur trade. I reached out to PETA to have Black become part of their 'I'd Rather Go Naked' campaign. PETA did not sponsor or endorse that shoot, but I did work with someone at PETA's Los Angeles office to get their legal clearance on the use of the PETA name and permission to market the photo. That pictorial campaign was published nationally in several magazines, countless blogs, as well as two magazines in Europe and the UK." We had quite a few requests for posters as well, but we elected not to go that route for that initial campaign.
This year's campaign is similarly affiliated with PETA but also with Ace of Hearts Dog Rescue. It's founder and key financier is Celebrity Interior Designer Kari Whitman. Whitman met Steck when she acquired a piece of Jess Black's art for a client whose home she was designing. Steck explains, "PETA is a national organization, international actually, but we wanted to bring attention to a smaller foundation that is making a difference in the Los Angeles area. Los Angeles has one of the largest, if not THE largest kill rate statistics in the nation. Kari is a fervent supporter of PETA so we thought this was the perfect marriage."
The correct selection of models was also very important for this project. Each would need to have a proven record of animal activism. Jeff stated that he received nearly 300 submissions but selected six models based largely on their animal rights advocacy. The models are Kristen Zang, a former model and now owner of Emma Lou's Kitchen, a gourmet dog food company; Lee Kholafai, an actor and founder of Titan's Second Chance, a pit bull rescue advocacy group; Hannah Cowley, an actress and director who tirelessly fights for laws limiting the availability of dogs in pet stores. She also has a sanctuary for horses in Australia; Jess Black, a fine artist who liaisons with several animal rescue organizations placing dogs into foster or permanent homes before they are euthanized in Los Angeles area shelters; Kari Whitman at the last minute was unable to be part of the photo shoot due to professional obligations but her never-ending efforts with Ace of Hearts Dog Rescue is a testament to her love of animals; and finally our youngest model is Nick Rogers who at the age of 12 is an actor, a lover of animals, but we'll cut him a break about not having his own foundation yet. This campaign is being photographed by Los Angeles-based photographer, Jenn Hoffman, who immediately volunteered her time and talent when she learned of the project. A documentary about this endeavor and behind the scenes of the shoot is being shot by Darrel D'Itri and will be released a month before the photo campaign.
Abused and neglected animals are everywhere. People will avert their eyes and mute their televisions when the Sarah McLachlan "In the Arms of An Angel" animal commercials broadcast because they are "too sad." They are sad largely because the abuse of innocent animals is a problem that we have created. Animals cannot fight for their own rights. It is time to stop looking away and make a difference in an animal's life.
The photo campaign will launch absolutely everywhere in late Spring 2012.
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Jeff Steck Management is a Los Angeles-based marketing and public relations company specializing in small business, feature film, and cause organizations.