Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Bombay Sapphire gin ad no tonic for elephant

Posted: 24 January 2007


The latest UK cinema ad made for Bombay Sapphire gin depicts an Asian elephant from a German circus walking through a room full of glasses without breaking them and up a staircase, at the top of it places some olives in a glass of Bombay Sapphire Gin.

Produced by New York agency, Sugartown Creative, the ad was filmed over two days during which the elephant, Maya, was shot for a few hours each day against a green screen. Maya was transported from Friedberg to Munich, Germany a journey that takes an hour for the ad. She arrived in an 18 wheel trailer with lots of windows and a wooden floor covered in hay for comfort. The elephant’s footage was then digitally transferred on to the background featured in the finished commercial.

Bacardi-Martini who own Bombay Sapphire confirmed that Maya the elephant was asked to lift one foot and then another for the filming. She also had to raise her trunk and walk up two steps of a large staircase that was built specifically for the shoot. Her motions were then copied to make it look like she walked up the entire staircase.

Jan Creamer, chief executive of ADI, said “People have turned away from animal circuses in droves in recent years as they have become increasingly concerned about the substandard conditions in which these animals live and the cruel training methods that have been employed behind the scenes. The Bombay Sapphire advert is a disgrace. It’s basically an elephant doing an archaic circus routine on command and then a background has been added later. 80% of the public agree that elephants should be banned from travelling circuses so this advert seems incredibly misguided.”

Chris Searle, regional Director for external affairs for Bacardi-Martini, said: “We are confident our advertising agency and its production partners treated Maya, the elephant portrayed in the commercial, in a most respectful, dignified and humane manner at all times during production of the commercial”.

The company claims when not on set, Maya was housed in a 1,000 square foot dirt-floored area that was covered in hay. She was fed fresh hay – as well as bags of carrots and apples – and fresh water was available constantly. Maya was bathed hourly and the flooring of her area was replaced several times a day.

Jan Creamer: “1,000 square foot sounds impressive, but in reality a space approximately 20ft by 50ft is a pitiful size for an elephant enclosure. These animals travel for miles and miles every day in the wild. I visited Circus Herman Renz in Holland a few years ago and the elephants were being kept in a tiny enclosure, on concrete, in a tent [see photograph], there were also tiny tiger cubs lying on the metal floor of a cage on the back of a lorry. In addition companies like Bacardi-Martini cannot vouch for the way in which a circus elephant is taught to perform tricks on command. This training goes on in secret and as we have shown at other circuses it can be a very brutal process.”

Circus Herman Renz

At Circus Herman Renz, ADI filmed elephants housed in small, electric fenced pens inside a tent with concrete flooring and no bedding substrate. Hard surfaces such as concrete or tarmac are unsuitable for elephants[1]; the use of such surfaces causes (along with inadequate exercise) abscesses to form in the nails and in the foot itself and the sole of the foot to crack[2].

Elephants are extremely prone to foot problems in captivity and an unsuitable substrate is one of the major causes of these problems. Concrete flooring also does not facilitate an elephant lying down. In addition the elephants at this circus were showing clear signs of stereotypic behaviours such as swaying. Abnormal behaviours such as stereotypic swaying do not occur in wild animals but in captivity they are a sign that an animal is having difficulty coping with the conditions it is in, that it is experiencing a lack of stimulation and/or environmental control and are generally viewed as an indicator of poor welfare.

Jan Creamer adds: “We implore Bacardi-Martini to commit to stop using performing animals in future adverts. Until they make such a commitment, we will be urging anyone who wants a drink of gin, not to buy Bombay Sapphire. They don’t seem to care about the public’s opposition to animals in circuses, why should you care for their gin.”

_________________________________ ENDS _______________________________________

  • Both the UK and Scottish Parliaments have now committed to ban certain wild animals in travelling circuses. Approximately 200 local authorities in the UK have banned all animal acts on council land.
  • In Europe Austria has banned wild animals in circuses and 28 Croatian towns have followed suit. In Greece bans have followed in the towns of Malia, Thessaloniki and Patras. A six-year campaign by ADI secured new regulations in over 160 countries concerning the cross border movements of endangered species with animal circuses. ADI’s evidence has been used in Costa Rica and Singapore to secure national prohibitions on the use of wild animals in circuses.
  • ADI has circus campaigns currently running in Europe, the USA and South America.
  • ADI has rescued and relocated a number of circus animals including: lions, tigers, horses, dogs, a python and chimpanzees.
  • --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    [1] Clubb, R. & Mason, G. (2002) A review of the welfare of zoo elephants in Europe. A report commissioned by the RSPCA.

    [2] Bukley, 2001 and Roocroft and Oosterhuis, 2001 Veasey, J. (2006) Concepts in the care and welfare of captive elephants. International Zoo Yearbook. 40:63-79

    © Animal Defenders International 2019