Last week the oil giant launched the “We Agree” ad campaign touting “the company’s plans in producing energy responsibly and in supporting the communities in which it operates.” A new website was launched trying to put a positive spin on the company and press releases were sent to media outlets including (apparently) to this blog's e-mail address.
Before the launch of Chevron’s campaign, however, the ads became targets for “activist-performers” The Yes Men. Along with the Rainforest Action Network and Amazon Watch, a fake campaign with the “We Agree” tagline was released along with a legitimate-looking website. One of the faux ads (similar to the above image) read, "Oil companies should fix the problems they create" next to a stamp reading "We agree". The pranksters even sent a fake reaction from a Chevron attorney who deemed the stunt as "environmentalist subterfuge."
What does Chevron’s campaign have to do with Latin America? As Reuters reported:
Chevron is currently fighting a $27 billion lawsuit in Ecuador dating back 18 years that contends Texaco, which Chevron bought, caused significant environmental damage in the Amazon through faulty drilling techniques.Adam Werbach in The Atlantic compared Chevron’s “failed” campaign to other ad blunders such as Kentucky Fried Chicken donating a fraction of their sales to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation while also launching their grease-laden “Double-Down” sandwich. (“It's hard to sell a sandwich with 32 grams of fat and be a respected voice in the fight against breast cancer.”)
Chevron has said Texaco repaired damage in all areas of the jungle for which it was responsible, that the courts in Ecuador have been biased and that plaintiffs lawyers have engaged in misconduct. A verdict in the case could come in the next few months.
In April The Yes Men falsely represented Royal Dutch Shell and issued a faux apology to “all inhabitants of Nigeria’s Niger Delta for the many years of human rights violations, for which Shell takes full responsibility.” The group’s most famous hoax, however, was in 2004 when one of their members appeared live on the BBC while pretending to be a Union Carbide exec and subsequently “apologized” for the Bhopal chemical disaster.
Image- unEARTHED (“The Yes Men's latest victim is Chevron's "We Agree" ad campaign. Image courtesy of theyesmen.org.”)
Online Sources- Stock Briefings, The Atlantic, Mother Jones, Museum of Hoaxes, Consumerist, AFP, Reuters