It’s official, we’ve run out of problems. Everybody pack it in and go home.

That was my thought when I woke up earlier this week, checked Twitter, and saw the PETA — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals — had posted a chart about “how to remove speciesism from your daily conversations.”

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The chart, titled “Stop Using Anti-Animal Language,” includes a handful of popular idioms that use animals or animal food products and alternatives you could use.

For example, instead of “Kill two birds with one stone,” it becomes “Feed two birds with one scone.” “Beat a dead horse” becomes “Feed a fed horse.”And “Bring home the bacon” becomes “Bring home the bagels.”

Almost immediately, I noticed my Twitter timeline filled with reactions to PETA’s latest stunt, ranging from calling out the number of animals the organization euthanizes to noting the hypocrisy of some of the suggestions, like that feeding scones (or any type of bread) to birds can lead to malnutrition in the animals.

Speciesism. I guess that means we’ve successfully figured out all the other “-isms,” racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, ageism and the like. Because if the year 2018 has taught us anything, those concepts are all things of the past and we can now move on to making sure we don’t make the animals mad by using hateful language that they don’t understand.

Of course, that’s not even remotely true. And, the thing is, PETA knows that and it’s why they do outrageous things like this. It’s right there on their webpage’s FAQ.

“PETA’s mission is to get the animal rights message out to as many people as possible … we will do extraordinary things to get that word out about animal cruelty … . It is sometimes necessary to shake people up in order to initiate discussion, debate, questioning of the status quo, and, of course, action.

“Thus, we try to make our actions colorful and controversial, thereby grabbing headlines … .”

Fair enough, PETA, you got me. You’re welcome for the free media attention from this column.

That same strategy helped them garner attention in Baltimore earlier this year, when PETA purchased a billboard downtown featuring a crab and the words, “I’m ME, not MEAT,” and encouraging people to go vegan. Nearly every news outlet in the region seized on the story.

The “Me not Meat” campaign hasn’t been exclusive to Maryland; the organization announced this week similar ads featuring a pig in Illinois near the state’s pork producers association headquarters, and one with a fish near a string of seafood restaurants in southern New Jersey, in a community where a number of the residents are Italian-Americans who celebrate Christmas Eve with The Feast of the Seven Fishes.

PETA’s marketing department figured out a while ago that there is no such thing as bad publicity. “There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about,” Oscar Wilde once said.

So rather than simply running ads encouraging folks to go vegan for the health benefits, PETA instead sought to provoke and enrage.

Once the triggered masses started getting angry about these controversial ads, they begin posting them on social media with their own scathing commentary. Then media organizations grab hold of it, furthering PETA’s reach. In turn, this also heightens awareness among those who agree with PETA, and likely emboldens them to push back against those who are outraged.

With the target audience energized, it then becomes easier for PETA to convince them to donate their money to the cause.

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Regardless of how you feel about PETA, recognize that this sort of advertising strategy will likely be used more and more, not necessarily to sell you on something, but to leverage your emotions into selling it — whatever it is — to others, or at the very least, keep their product at the forefront of your conscience.

You know, someone could probably run a successful political campaign and even win significant office using a similar strategy. Nah, we’re too smart to fall for that, right?

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