Here's an interesting article about marketing for charities using "look-away" images. It's not animal-related, but some analogies may apply.
Their post is about "Poverty Porn". Here's how they describe it:
"Poverty Porn are words and images that elicit an emotional response by their sheer shock value. Images like starving, skeletal children covered in flies... that exploit the poor's condition in order to generate the necessary sympathy for selling newspapers or increasing charitable donations or support for a given cause."
I know we've all seen this. And the concept isn't unique just to showing children in African Nations. The same "shock value" effect also plays a role in those who try to promote dog bite hysteria or some organizations that show shocking footage of abused pets.
"There are countless organizations and projects that keep falling into the savior trap, trying to do what they think is best, but creating output that is outdated and misguided and old-fashioned. It is Victorian and 20th Century social action swathed in 21st century storytelling technologies. As one commentor has said, poverty porn is the result of an organizations desperate attempt to keep itself relevant and attractive to donors, and is considered necessary for sustainability. It is never about the subject."
You can read the entire post here, at Good.