Good/Bad Advertising

I saw this classified ad in the Los Angeles Times and, at first glance, it made me laugh. It is a clever way of getting people to look through the classifieds. It certainly caught my eye and I wasn’t even looking for anything! (I was reaching for the front page and just happened to glance down.)

At first I was amused, and then my BIRD-TALK mind shifted into gear. Judging by the stance and length of the tail, the bird in the ad is a severe macaw. Which means the cage shown below is far too small, and even if it was the right size, the bars look too thin and the bird would chew its way out. And the headphones? The bird will eat them up once it escapes from its cage!

While I have nothing against people who sell their birds through a classified ad (that’s how I got my lovebird, Josh), the person selling the bird shouldn’t be a) too desperate or b) looking for a quick buck. It isn’t fair to the bird to be given to an inexperienced owner who buys it on a whim. Or, because the bird has behavioral problems, have to buy headphones so he or she doesn’t go insane from the squawk.

So, being a responsible bird owner and editor, I feel the urge to send a letter to the L.A .Times to point out its error in judgment in ads. I imagine the letter would be something like this:

(Note: I didn’t actually send this letter and probably wouldn’t … it’s a little too snarky.)

Dear L.A. Times,

I understand the joke behind the series of images you presented in your classified ad (Classifieds, 5G, 7/11/2008) and even had a good laugh. But, as a bird owner, lover and editor of a bird magazine, I feel compelled to point out that if a person has to purchase headphones with a bird, or even after the bird, then you will most likely see that same bird up for sale again. A bird that constantly squawks is not a happy bird, and being that the type of bird shown (most likely a miniature macaw) doesn’t squawk that much to begin with, you have an animal who needs a good loving home and cannot be in one where it’s ignored by an owner who puts on the headphones.

Also, I have to point out that that cage is far too small for a bird and not made of the right material, so said buyer may have to purchase yet another cage when the bird breaks out of it (and possibly health insurance for their hands when they blindly lunge to get the bird back into its cage).

Finally, while again pointing out the humorous tone of the ad, I might mention adding these things to the list of pictures:

1. Bird toys
2. Bird food (preferably pellets)
3. Bird cage (again, the correct size)
4. Bird carrier
5. Bird book (or BIRD TALK magazine)
6. Bird vet (also known as an avian veterinarian)

With these added items, you will not only have your readership fully aware of what to purchase from your classifieds listings (benefiting the seller and you), you will also have a bird that will find a safe and loving home for years to come.


Jessica Pineda
Assistant Editor of BIRD TALK magazine

Update: Someone asked how Woody, the bird I adopted, was doing. Unfortunately, his vocalizations were too loud for my apartment and were bothering my roommate’s cat. If you have been following Melissa Kauffman’s blog, she’s keeping Woody for me, so he has a stable home, Melissa’s husband to fawn over and lots of love. I visit Woody when I can and he still sees me and lets me scratch his head.

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