Guy Lochhead, 02/08/12
Fictional species created to advertise Naugahyde, a brand of artificial leather developed in the mid-’30s by Uniroyal Engineered Products, originally a rubber company founded in Naugatuck, Connecticut, from where the fabric takes its name. In the late 1960s/early 1970s, Uniroyal launched a marketing campaign aimed at moving the product’s reputation away from cheap imitation leather to something much more friendly. They invented the Nauga, a creature that apparently lives in herds on a secret ranch near Stoughton, Wisconsin, having arrived in America in mysterious circumstances, with sources citing Sumatra and Ancient Rome as possible motherlands. It sheds its skin voluntarily several times a year in order to produce the material, hence its branding as “The Cruelty Free Fabric”. When a Nauga’s working life is over, it moves into Nauga Defense Fund retirement villages. The campaign proved popular, with many members of the public (including, notably, the microbiologist Dean Cliver and the banker Al Rosenberg) playing along, and a fair number duped into supporting fictional anti-animal cruelty campaigns. Fun, creative advertising for an alright product. Part of me feels it’s a good sign for animal rights and environmentalism that they can be co-opted and parodied so light-heartedly. It’s almost a mark of progress. I like it. I will include a Nauga.

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