Chevron pranked (probably) by the Yes Men
The lack of progress on climate legislation presents a poignant opportunity for those organizations who are working to advance climate solutions to analyze what they've done right, wrong, and how they can be more successful in the future. Many agree that getting ahead of fossil fuel-ed denier or climate confusion communications is key, however this strategy can seem overwhelming given the size and power of carbon interests. This new campaign from (probably) the Yes Men, however, shows how a little ingenuity and a considerable amount of audacity can go a long way. Read about and see how Chevron has been pranked in this article by GOOD Magazine.
Posted October 18, 2010
By Morgan Clendaniel Deputy Editor, GOOD Magazine
The oil company Chevron appears to have been targeted by noted culture jammers the Yes Men, who have spoofed Chevron's recent "We Agree" campaign, with a website about how Chevron agrees that oil companies should "clean up their messes," "fix the problems they create," and "put safety first." Here is what they said in the (fake) press release:
"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."
"We were asked to show an agreeable, involved, of-the-people face for Chevron, and we think we came up with some really great ways of doing that," said Gordon Bowen, Chief Creative Officer of McGarryBowen. "But what’s unique and different here is the honesty. We've never been able to do this before."
"We're telling truths no one usually tells," said Zygocki. "We're changing the way the whole industry speaks."
"BP's response to the Gulf tragedy was widely perceived as perfunctory and insincere," noted Bowen. "Chevron has big problems too, like in Ecuador – but they're really stepping up to the plate."
Chevron's real "We Agree" campaign features videos of regular folks expressing what they think the oil company should do and Chevron agreeing. You can watch them all here. The website has all the marks of a Yes Man campaign—like their most recent against the Chamber of Commerce—including a fake press release sent under a somewhat-off domain name (chevron-press.com, in this case) and the absurd press spokesman name (Giles Vechny, for this one).
You can read the full press release here. We'll get you more information, from the Yes Men or Chevron, as the day goes on.
UPDATE: We're still waiting for a comment from Chevron, but they Yes Men have doubled down on their prank, putting out a second fake press release "deploring" the hoax and getting more specific about which of Chevron's actions brought upon this Yes Men protest:
Pate also noted that the environmentalists have made libellous allegations regarding Chevron's record and obligations in Ecuador and beyond. “Despite what some will say, we are not obliged to abide by decisions that Ecuadorian judges make or do not make. This is because we have binding agreements with the Ecuadorian Government exempting us from any liabilities whatsoever, granted in exchange for a $40 million cleanup of some wells by Texaco in the 1990s.”
“We have always upheld the best values of every country to which we are attached,” added Pate.
“This hoax is part of an ongoing effort to blame Chevron for 18 billion gallons of toxic waste dumped in the Amazon during drilling operations,” said Rhonda Zygocki, Chevron vice president of Policy, Government and Public Affairs. “This blame game continues despite Chevron's long-standing agreement with the Ecuadorian government which very obviously puts the issue behind us.”
SECOND UPDATE: Chevron has released their actual statement, saying:
"Chevron’s new advertising campaign is meant to identify and highlight common ground on key energy issues so we can move forward safely, intelligently and collaboratively. Unfortunately, there are some that are not interested in engaging in a constructive dialogue, and instead have resorted to rhetoric and stunts. Today, activist groups have attempted to interrupt the conversation by issuing a fake press release and establishing a counterfeit website, which are not affiliated with Chevron."
They wouldn't answer other questions, like if they specifically don't agree that they should "clean up their messes," "fix the problems they create," and "put safety first."