This is a study of the dark side of anthropomorphism, which explores the depiction of cows in contemporary advertising. The study begins by tracing the cow's representation in culture as an object that is simultaneously revered and profaned, tracing this to its long-standing association with nature and the feminine. It then offers a historical perspective on the representation of cows in advertising, outlining some of the controversies that have raged about how cows are depicted. This leads to a consideration of ecofeminism and related issues around this, such as environmentalism and gender. Its central argument is that an anthropocentric world view has led to cows being positioned in anthropomorphic advertisements as ‘the Other'. Applying an ecofeminist analysis, the authors identify an overarching narrative of ‘benevolent mastery’ in many cow advertisements that adopt anthropomorphic devices. As such, these advertisements serve to delude us about the true nature of cows' lives. The authors conclude by suggesting that an ecofeminist lens enables us to unmask the ‘dark side' of anthropomorphism in marketing, revealing fundamental prejudices in contemporary culture.
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