In an attempt to clean up the image of the oil industry, Chevron has launched a new ad campaign called "We Agree," in which the company agrees that it must take steps to improve its performance. Well, an environmental group has hijacked the campaign, fooling some media organizations.
A group called Yes Men, with help from the larger Amazon Watch and the Rainforest Action Network, released a very real-looking news release and put up a phony web site touting its version of the "We Agree" campaign.
The New York Times writes:
The main difference between the lampoon and the real one was that the fake release described the ads as addressing environmental issues in which Chevron is embroiled, including a dispute in Ecuador over oil pollution; the real ads do not directly address those matters.
The newspaper said several media outlets, including the digital-business publication Fast Company, were taken in by the prank. Mike Bonanno of Yes Men said in a statement that that was the easiest part of the project:
"If you really want to snooker the media, it's pretty hard for them to resist. We cobbled together some fake releases with string and thumbtacks and chewing gum, and we fooled the most respectable outlets."
"We expected something like this would be done," Chevron spokesman Morgan Crinklaw told The Times. "There are activist groups whose sole focus is attacking Chevron and not engaging in rational conversations on energy issues."
But the pranksters said they are only trying to tell people the truth. "The oil giant has prioritized this high-priced glossy ad campaign that attempts to trick us into believing it is of the people, for the people," Maria Ramos of the Rainforest Action Network told Reuters.
"Chevron is doing what we did, a million times over, with a ginormous budget -- and it never reveals its subterfuge," Yes Men's Andy Bichlbaum said. "No wonder the media's full of lies."