Keep It Wild campaign causes backlash for Kodiak Cakes and Zac Efron

PARK CITY, Utah — Park City-based Kodiak Cakes launched the Keep It Wild campaign in late July to donate proceeds from limited edition products to the conservation of grizzly bears but not without controversy. The initiative brings together Kodiak Cakes, Vital Ground Foundation, and Draplin Design Company. Chief Brand Officer and well-known celebrity Zac Efron participated in the launch of the new campaign.

According to its website, Vital Ground Foundation is a nationally-accreditated land trust with a vision to restore grizzly bear populations. Its founder, Doug Seus, is a Hollywood bear trainer.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) points out the issues with using the bear named Tank in the promotion. There was a video and still image publication of Tank and Zac Efron.

“Tank was bred by a breeder in Wisconsin and was only six weeks old when he was given to Seus. This is about the age when brown bear cubs open their eyes, so it’s possible that Tank never even saw his own mother,” said Debbie Metzler, Director of Captive Animal Welfare at PETA, in a letter to Kodiak Cakes.

PETA also asserts that “No true conservation group would ever exploit captive wildlife in order to raise awareness of the plight of animals in nature.”

The Keep It Wild campaign will provide 100% of the sales and a dollar-for-dollar match of all products sold. Limited quantities are being produced, with only hats and prints currently left, and the campaign will run until all products are sold.

Kodiak Cakes is involved with other conservation efforts, such as preserving the Bonanza Flat area east of Park City and their yearly contributions to nature conservation programs.

“We feel a kinship with these bears because, to us, a pantry stocked with real, nourishing food is the sign of a healthy family leading an active life. It’s part of the reason we’re called Kodiak Cakes. Every year we donate a portion of our profits to conservation efforts spearheaded by organizations like Vital Ground. We’re dedicated to encouraging healthy ecosystems, be it in your kitchen or wherever the frontier still thrives,” according to Kodiak Cake’s mission statement on their website.


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