Monday, October 18, 2010

Chevron do agree, just not on everything (or a Yes Men hoax puncture a campaign)

It's a common complaint that public opinion has poor ability of comprehending nuances or complex issues. Well, let's see if they can sort this out, and just how much of Chevron's marketing (a.k.a. greenwashing) budget has gone down the drain.

So, social media didn't know what to think, Chevron was saying some funky stuff and the first I saw of it (thanks to Chris) was assuming Yes Men (theyesmen.org). Well chevron-press.com and chevron-weagree.com think "Oil companies should... ":

  • ... clean up their messes
  • ... fix the problems they create
  • ... put safety first

Wow, some pretty extreme statements there, coming from a huge oil company! Way to go corporate social responsibility!

Well, turns out the press contact "Giles Vechny" has no other google hits, basically declaring him an invented (at least as a professional) identity, and most likely the page a hoax. Haha, way to go Yes Men (or copycats), you almost managed to fool the world again, that's really funny. The world smiles and declares Chevron "We agree" CSR campaign a hoax.

Well, think again, because it only partly is! press.chevron-corp.com states (I'm sorry, I sincerely hope I didn't get those URLs mixed up now):

"While such a campaign does exist, its official URL is chevron.com/weagree. The advertisements released earlier today, at chevron-weagree.com, were an elaborate subterfuge and must not be mistaken as real"

So, what Chevron and chevron.com/weagree does agree on are that "Oil companies should... ":

  • ... put their profits to good use
  • ... need to get real
  • It's time... get behind the development of renewable energy
  • ... support the communities they're a part of
  • ... think more like technology companies
  • ... should support small business

I'll leave it to the professionals to weed out exactly how accountable anyone can be held to such ideals and how watered down it is.

Now good.is writes that also the second press release is fake... well, I'm not sure anymore. Thanks to @blumenberg whom I bounced some messages early on with. Anyway it seems Chevron had a new fresh marketing campaign, trying to clear the slop off big oil, though the campaign was leaked to Yes Men (or copy cats, I haven't seen them verified yet), enabling them to perform this record-fast counter-campaign. If not heads will roll, at least it certainly was a powerful way of putting focus on big oil and their attempts at CSR.

The Yes Men have publicly described their methods, most recently in their documentary "THE YES MEN FIX THE WORLD", supposedly due to a legal conflict available for free instead of for sale. So, you can at least with their approval just go to that site, download and enjoy their guerilla marketing.

Now, feel free to start the flaming.


The Yes Men posing as Exxon executives (from wikimedia commons, credit to Tavis )


Enjoy my other posts on marketing and identity.

(Update: Turns out the story is even more intricate than described above, and not all of my conclusions above were entirely correct. I hope to remedy it shortly)

2 comments:

Blumenberg said...

Mail raw header from todays press releases and earlier e-mails from Yes Men are identical. See more at «The Yes Men vs. Chevron – 1:0».

Jess said...

So according to @ethicsblogger the press release in your post (which I have subsequently passed on) is also a fake. Part of me feels kinda dumb for being sucked-in, but it pales to the reverence I feel for the Yes Men