Okay, we admit it: We punked Chevron

By Mike G.
Monday, October 18th, 2010

Amazon Watch and Rainforest Action Network activists punk Chevron in DC
Activists in Washington, DC put these posters up around town to call attention to Chevron’s attempts to greenwash its image even while ignoring its toxic legacy in Ecuador.

Chevron rolled out a fancy new ad campaign yesterday, and we were ready for them. We had only a fraction of Chevron’s budget — the company won’t say how much it spent this time around, but typically spends as much as $90 million on an ad campaign like this — but we had the element of surprise, and we were determined to press our advantage.

So before Chevron’s press release announcing its “We Agree” campaign could hit reporters’ inboxes, we sent out a press release of our own on their behalf. The company’s own press release was guaranteed to be full of greenwash. We wanted ours to be a bit more truthful. It featured quotes from real employees, but in this case they were describing the “We Agree” campaign we’d like to see:

“Chevron is making a clean break from the past by taking direct responsibility for our own actions,” said Rhonda Zygocki, Chevron vice president of Policy, Government and Public Affairs.

“Oil Companies Should Clean Up Their Messes,” reads one ad; the small print refers candidly to the damage done by oil companies around the world. “For decades, oil companies like ours have worked in disadvantaged areas, influencing policy in order to do there what we can’t do at home. It’s time this changed.”

Another ad, “Oil Companies Should Fix The Problems They Create,” is just as topical. “Extracting oil from the Earth is a risky process, and mistakes do happen. It’s easy to pass the blame or ignore the mistakes we’ve made. Instead, we need to face them head on, accept our financial and environmental responsibilities, and fund new technologies to avoid these mistakes in the future.”

Of course, before we sent out our press release, we put together a spoof website and a fake press page.

Some reporters got fooled by our spoof. Others managed to figure out it was a parody before they published their piece, but even still, we’d managed to derail much of the press about Chevron’s pricey new PR effort. Several pieces highlighted our spoof campaign instead of the real Chevron campaign. Here’s a couple examples:

What do you think about Chevron’s latest attempt to clean up its image even while it refuses to clean the 18 billion gallons of toxic oil waste it left in Ecuador’s rainforests? The company proudly announced its new greenwash ad campaign on its Facebook page — why don’t you drop by and let them know what you think?

Leave a comment


9 Comments so far

Fuck d Chevron…

Comment by Baash Dilam
10/18/10 at 8:53 pm

Great work to everyone involved! Glad to see you are one step ahead of Chevron’s attempt to fool everyone into thinking they are trying to do the right thing.

Comment by Jess Miller
10/19/10 at 12:39 am

Excellent work! Stick it to them!

Comment by markbiwwa
10/19/10 at 1:29 am

I admire your martial arts approach of turning the might of your adversary to your advantage, but I don’t like the execution. Where is the wit in fabricating quotes? You could have done much better by using a satirical mode, finding actual quotes from Chevron executives and contrasting their cluelessness/disingenuousness with the horrors you ascribe to the company.

Comment by Chris R
10/19/10 at 5:46 am

[...] Okay, we admit it: We punked Chevron [...]

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10/19/10 at 8:18 am

Left a note on their facebook page. Proud of you guys!!

Comment by Alicia Edmunds
10/19/10 at 9:24 am

this was great cna you also put some ads up on chanel 9 they run that same BS from chevron all the time,, human energy and what they are doing to develop green technology

Comment by patti rich
10/19/10 at 8:58 pm

Best campaign ever! Congrats!

Comment by Maik Schaffer
10/20/10 at 1:37 am

[...] why we just had to punk Chevron’s new ad campaign. And we’ve had so much fun doing it that we just have to [...]

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10/20/10 at 2:35 pm