Animal Inventory Blog

Keeping track of animals in popular culture.

Archive for the ‘Advertising’ Category

Best of the Blogs…

Posted by lisagbrown on December 7, 2008

There is nothing I love more than perusing my favorite blogs. Too often, the medium of blogging gets a bad rap because anyone can have a blog (and almost everyone does!) But that’s not the medium’s fault. Just like there are terrible and wonderful books, movies and art, there are terrible and wonderful blogs, as well. You just have to know how to sift through the bad to find the good, and this can be an intimidating endeavor. I highly recommend every single one of the blogs listed on my blogroll, but I thought I’d highlight the ones I’ve been completely addicted to lately. Enjoy!


Antennae isn’t actually a blog (it’s a journal), but it’s full of fascinating articles, interviews, art and tidbits by many of the most influential contemporary animal/nature writers and artists. Download the current issue “Botched Taxidermy” as a PDF on their website.

This blog is authored by Vanessa Woods, a Bonobo researcher who is stationed at Lola ya Bonobo Sanctuary in the Congo. Her blog is full of vibrant color photos, descriptions of her relationships with the bonobos and a no-holds-barred personal account of the politics of bonobo protection.

You may have noticed my previous enthusiasm for this blog, but it bears repeating. Daily Coyote is the day-to-day account of Shreve Stockton’s efforts to raise an orphaned coyote pup. Not only are her photos breathtakingly beautiful, but Shreve’s determination to chronicle this adventure responsibly (i.e., to reiterate that she will never again undertake an experience like this, and that coyotes are not meant to be pets) is commendable.

For a more intellectual and theoretical perspective on animals, check out the blog of Boria Sax, one of the stand-out powerhouses in the burgeoning field of human-animal studies.

Red Star Cafe is undoubtedly one of my all time favorite blogs. I like to imagine that I’m the only one who knows about this amazing treasure-trove of writing. I’m only sharing this little secret with you because I know you won’t tell anyone else about the intelligence, insight and originality with which they write about animals and nature in culture. Shh. Don’t tell. Our secret.

This blog is the ‘notebook’ of Boston-based writer and professor Steve Himmer. Steve posts his favorite highlights from blogs, books and more, and all of it is about nature, animals and writing. It’s a great source of inspiration, and a way to find hidden gems.

In the past, my own blog has been called, “wonderfully specific,” a compliment that I’d like to pass on to Taxidermy: Ravishing Beasts. It is a smart, engaging blog about the beauty, controversy, and power of taxidermy.

This bilingual blog by a Columbia University doctoral student combines her love of 18th century literature, contemporary American popular culture, and razor-sharp autobiography, into one big, diverse, delightful read.


Posted in Advertising, Animal Behavior, Animal Welfare, Animals, Art, Birds, Cats, Comics, Conservation, Dogs, Ethics, Extinction, Film, Fish, Food Animals, Human-Animal Bond, Human-Animal Studies, Identity, Literature, Music, Photography, Primates, Public Policy, Radio, Religion, Representations, Television, Theory | 3 Comments »

Animal Inventory TV — Episode 1: May & Nebraska

Posted by lisagbrown on September 7, 2008

The Animal Inventory blog is pleased to announce the first episode of Animal Inventory TV! You can watch the episode below. For more information, visit the show’s website at

Posted in Advertising, Animal Behavior, Animal Welfare, Animals, Dogs, Film, Human-Animal Bond, Representations, Television | 1 Comment »

Inventory of the Day

Posted by lisagbrown on April 21, 2008

This blog entry continues some of the themes explored in the blog entry Animalities.

Today I have created a true inventory of animals. I noted every animal I encountered from morning till night. These included animals that are living or dead, visual representations of animals, and even the sounds of animals.


4:13 AM Am awoken to the sound of a bird outside my window, cooing the same song over and over again. The repetition prevents me from falling back to sleep.

4:45 AM I finally give in to wakefulness and join my cat on the couch. I watch TV while he sleeps.

6:26 AM Am watching an episode of Angel in which the vampire battles a human-sized praying mantis monster.

6:41 AM Simon begins to tap on his food bowl in the next room to let me know that I’ve woken him up, and he wants his breakfast.


8:13 AM On a neighbor’s porch, there’s a sculpture of a stone terrier with a welcome sign around its neck.

8:17 AM Just barely hidden in a garden behind a house, I can see the silhouette of a garden sculpture in the shape of a crane.

8:23 AM On the bus, we pass the White Hen Pantry, whose logo is a fat white hen.

8:26 AM Just a few streets down, we drive past the Swan cleaners, whose logo is an elegant white swan.

8:31 AM Just ahead of the bus, I see the bloody remains of roadkill. It is fresh, but so mangled that it is unidentifiable. Probably a squirrel, but it may have been a cat. It is easily the most gruesome roadkill I’ve seen in a long time. The animal’s flesh reminds me of the boiled chicken I ate for dinner last night and I’m immediately nauseated.

8:56 Got off the bus downtown in front of a 10-foot poster in a bank window of a woman holding a fluffy white terrier dog. A second poster, in the adjacent window, shows a man holding a child in a similar pose. I’m intrigued that the dog and the child seem to be given equal prominence.


10:32 AM A photo of two Wheaton Terriers hangs on a bulletin board in a coworkers cubicle.

11:25 AM As I pass through a sea of cubicles on my way to the water fountain, I catch glimpses of animals: a gorilla stuffed animal holding a banana lounges on a file cabinet, a wolf figurine howls silently, a painting of some sheep hangs on the wall.

11:57 AM A brown cow looks out from behind the Stonyfield Farm logo on my yogurt container.

1:03 PM I overhear a coworker discussing how medieval armor was lined with horsehair.

1:28 PM I eat a salad with chicken slices from the deli counter.

3:13 PM I realize that my black sweater is covered in Yoshi’s white fur.

3:40 PM From the 11th floor, I watch a pigeon wing its way between the buildings.


5:01 PM At the bus stop, I see a woman feeding birdseed to a single pigeon, while dozens of pigeons and seagulls fly 10 stories above.

5:13 PM On the bus, we pass a sculpture of a man and his dog, and a block later I see a teenager walking a calico pit bull.

5:14 PM A deli has an ad for Boars Head Ham prominently displayed in the window.

5:22 PM On the Mass Pike, we pass a billboard with the Red Sox’s Green monster on it, a creature that is definitely not human, but not quite animal either. Less than 30 seconds later, we pass another billboard with Elmo on it, a similarly indefinable being.

5:27 PM The Stockyard Steakhouse uses a large red bull’s head to lure commuters in for an evening steak.

5:30 PM I notice an advertisement above my head for the Walk for Kidney Health, with an incongruous image of kids with faces painted like tigers.

5:32 PM I see a Massachusetts “I’m animal friendly” license plate, with the silhouette of a dog and a cat on it. The car owners have a dog beanie baby in the window.

5:34 PM A woman on the bus is reading A Walk in the Woods. It has a photo of a brown bear on the cover.

5:40 PM There’s an ad at one of the bus stops that reads ‘is your dog licensed? 87% of licensed dogs who get lost are returned home.’ There’s a photo of an adorable Golden Lab puppy on the ad.

5:41 PM We pass a bar whose logo is the image of two Falcons, back to back.

5:44 PM Walking home, I see a white ceramic garden sculpture of two frogs smiling.

5:45 PM A squirrel crosses the street in front of me, just as a very happy Jack Russell terrier is being walked around the corner.

5:46 PM As a father walks past me with his baby, I notice there are colorful stuffed fish hanging from a mobile on the baby’s stroller.

5:48 PM Yoshi greets me at the door, and both he and Simon are ready for dinner.

Posted in Advertising, Animal Behavior, Animals, Art, Food Animals, Representations, Television | Leave a Comment »

The Next Big Thing: Panthers

Posted by lisagbrown on November 11, 2007

A number of years ago I noticed an unusual trend. It seemed to me that every few months a new animal would become the trend du jour. I’m referring to the strange phenomenon whereby a particular species of animal becomes hip. Every knick-knack shop in the neighborhood becomes overrun by the image of a monkey. Or a wolf. Or an owl. Images of the animal appear on clothing, journal covers, home furnishings, even dinnerware. The animal is absolutely everywhere, often at the extreme exclusion of any other species. Even the nature section of the bookstore tends to reflect these trends, suddenly exploding with must-have tell-all books about the species-of-the-moment. I’m sure this phenomenon has occurred for decades–even centuries–but I can trace my own awareness of it to the proliferation of Paul Frank monkey paraphernalia about four or five years ago. (Full disclosure – I’m not immune to the lure of monkey products. I own a number of Paul Frank goods.)

This afternoon I discovered the Next Big Thing. According to the December 2007 issue of Lucky Magazine, panthers are It. With sincerity and delight, the magazine informs its readers that, “This jungle cat signifies luxury, much the same way zebra or leopard prints do, but with an added twist of menace. Its sinuous shape is appearing on a wide range of items, and whether on a diamond-encrusted pendant or a simply cut cotton tee, the effect is elegant, slightly dangerous, and fabulously rich.” The magazine goes on to describe the panther as a “leaping predator,” “majestic,” “lurking,” “slinking,” and “snarling.” I don’t know much about big cats in general, but I definitely understand the way that Lucky is trying to sell the animal to me by both reinforcing and defining the panther’s traits. Most specifically, Lucky highlights a definitive relationship between the panther and wealth. Perhaps this will drive the audience into stores on a quest for panther goods, so that they can project the kind of luxury and majesty the panther embodies.

You can thank me later for informing you of this trend so early on. In the months to come, as you wear your pantherized nouveau riche status on a chain around your neck (and embody the alarmingly sexualized sinuous qualities of that slinking cat), just remember who told you about this trend in the making. And when panthers start appearing on pillowcases, lampshades and coffee mugs, you can feel confident in the fact that you knew the animal way back when, before its 15 minutes of fame, before it got rich and started hanging with the Hollywood jet-set, way before the panther was It.

Posted in Advertising, Representations | Leave a Comment »


Posted by lisagbrown on August 7, 2007

Scrawled in black sharpie on a white bucket next to the cash register at the Upper Crust pizza shop in Brookline:

“Tipping… Not just for cows anymore”

Posted in Advertising, Representations | Leave a Comment »

Religion is like a cow

Posted by lisagbrown on August 6, 2007

The Brighton Allston Congregational Church has an outdoor bulletin board on which they post inspirational phrases, presumably to attract new churchgoers. This week the board reads:

“Religion is like a cow … It kicks, but it gives milk too.”

It is difficult to find meaning in this nonsensical phrase, but I’ll go out on a limb. The assumption is that religion, like a cow, is available for human use. Learn to use religion properly and it will provide you with sustenance, but it can also provoke painful self-reflection. The cow can be utilized for milk production, but can inflict damage as well. Most important in this confusing message is the complicated relationship between a cow — a living, breathing, thinking, feeling, self-motivated being — and religion — an inert, anthropogenic tool. They are presented as equivalent methods of human progress, yet they could not be further apart. A cow is a unique individual who exists whether or not she is used as a product by humans. Religion is a generalized concept that can not exist without humans.

The author may have simply been seeking a smart turn of phrase to grab attention and was probably trying to reveal more about religion than about cows. However, this is a great example of how cultural assumptions about animals (as utilitarian tools) can hide in the most obscure places.

Posted in Advertising, Religion | Leave a Comment »

Welcome to Animal Inventory

Posted by lisagbrown on August 5, 2007

Animals show up in the strangest places. On TV a cow tells audiences to buy pork, in the movies a pig herds sheep, and a shampoo brand is marketed via the image of a kangaroo. Who are these animals? What do they mean to us? What do we gain (or lose) by utilizing their representations?

Most people don’t think about the many animals that inhabit their life, unless they consider household pets or nuisance wildlife. Yet aside from dogs, cats, and the occassional squirrel, most communities are populated by a varied group of animals through advertising, packaging, movies, books, TV and many other mediums. Boundaries like wild and tame, food and friend, companion and pest are challenged in the strangest ways every day. Animal representations have been manufactured, deconstructed and reconstructed by humans until the animal’s original form is almost unrecognizable. Still, through these manipulations, it is possible to learn a great deal about how we view animals.

This blog is an attempt to pay attention to these animals, figure out who they are, why they exist, and what they reveal about how we see their living counterparts.

Posted in Advertising, Art, Ethics, Human-Animal Bond, Human-Animal Studies, Public Policy, Representations | Leave a Comment »