Artic Ready (or not): How Greenpeace and the Yes Men “Shell-shocked” an Oil Giant

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With the help of the infamous Yes Lab the oft-controversial environmental organization Greenpeace and members of the Occupy Wall Street movement have launched a viral negative ad campaign against the Dutch oil giant Shell. The group staged a fake gala at Seattle's Space Needle to "celebrate Shell’s era-defining Arctic drilling".  A youtube video entitled "#ShellFAIL: Private Arctic Launch Party Goes Wrong" soon made its way to the top of reddit.  They followed up with a fake Shell website, the twitter handle @ShellisPrepared and memes that mock the company's stance on global warming. As journalists began to question the legitimacy of the video the group stayed one step ahead by releasing a fake press release from Shell threatening to sue over the video.  

More below the jump:

The group is concerned about climate change and was forced to become more creative since a recent court order banned any Greenpeace activist near a Shell rig. Greenpeace USA spokesman James Turner told the LA Times,  

Certainly this injunction we are faced with demanded some new thinking, and I guess the tactics needed to counter an international oil campaign have to be creative…Social media offers us the opportunity to use humor and inventiveness to reach people in a way that hopefully entertains and engages them, while making a serious point at the same time.

  Andy Bichlbaum a representative from Yes Labs said, "We've got to do everything we possibly can to draw attention to this unfolding disaster, and more importantly we've got to stop it." One point that has them particularly concerned is that the rig Kulluk, that's set to sail to Alaska was built by the same company that built "Deepwater Horizon", albeit 17 years earlier. It was marked for retirement before receiving its new assignment in the Arctic.   Under "about Shell" the spoof website explains the origin of the ad campaign:  

Shell’s Let's Go! Arctic campaign comes after exhaustive market research, in which we found out that people like straight talk about oil, and that what they prize most is honesty and enthusiasm about the challenges in obtaining it, with sensitivity to environmental and cultural ramifications riding a distant second.

 You can see the timeline of events on Storify and a behind the scenes video of the campaign. The group of pranksters have come clean but the ads continue to go viral Search on twitter: "#ShellFail" and "ShellisNotPrepared" and below is the YouTube video that started it all. Despite their best efforts Shell is moving forward with its summer drilling plans in the Alaskan Artic.


About Author

Joe Deshotel

Joe was born and raised in Beaumont, Tx, but live music and politics brought him to Austin. He has worked in and around government and elections for over a decade including for a member of US Congress, the Texas Legislature, the Mayor of Austin. He currently serves as Communications Director for the Travis County Democratic Party. He is most interested in transportation, energy and technology issues. He also likes Texas Hold'em and commuting on his electric skateboard. Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.

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