As one blonde woman throws off her jacket and proceeds to caress some asparagus, drawing it down her stomach and toward her crotch, another scantily-clad woman licks a pumpkin. Yet another toys seductively with some broccoli. As crappy faux-metal music plays, words flash across the screen: "Studies show vegetarians have better sex." The message is clear: ladies love their vegetables.
The general consensus is that PETA never intended the ad to be run, that they never wanted to pay NBC the $3 million. The Washington Post reports that PETA asked NBC for a list of things they would have to do to make their ad suitable for TV. Out of courtesy, NBC sent the animal rights organization a letter with a list of edits that would have to be made before the "Veggie Love" ad could be shown in primetime. PETA then used the letter to garner more publicity; there is now a link on their website that reads: "Read NBC's Sexually Explicit Rejection E-Mail."
So to sum up: The entire ad is a giant stunt, one that simultaneously exploits women and gets a ton of publicity for PETA. It's a rather ingenious move, one which saves PETA $3 million (although, the number of people who watch the ad online is still probably nowhere near the number of viewers they would have had during the Super Bowl). And this is only the latest in a series of stupid stunts by PETA. The Economist ran a scathing piece on Monday about PETA's sea kitten campaign, which is clearly aimed at children, and uses scare tactics to get kids away from eating fish. In a "bedtime story" on their website, PETA plays up the dangers of mercury, while ignoring the many health benefits that come from eating fish — benefits that a British parliamentary committee called "crucial" to the growth and development of children. PETA is also no stranger to exploiting women for its own gain; they frequently use nude protesters, and not just in their "I'd rather go naked" ads. PETA has responded to criticism about its sexist practices by arguing that, since the organization is run by a woman, they could not possibly be accused of sexism.