The power of consumer lobbying

Greenpeace know how to put an organisation under pressure when they want to.

So when a major oil company decides it would be quicker and cheaper to get rid of an oil platform by sinking it in the middle of the North Sea, their PR department shifted into top gear and we saw NPO marketing at its best.

Many observers say it was Shell’s imcompetence that led to the Brent Spar fiasco – that culminated in a boycott of petrol stations in Germany and some very bad publicity for oil companies as a whole. Others say it was Greenpeace who fuelled the fire, or at least fanned the flames.

David and Goliath battle it out. And NPO marketing won.

David and Goliath battle it out. And NPO marketing won.

The PR strategy on a country by country basis was interesting. In Germany, always a country for environmental concern, the attention grabber was “They’re poisoning the seas”. Deforestation, acid rain, air pollution and poisoned rivers get the Germans going. In the UK stories like that seem to be less effective. So to wind the Brits up, Greenpeace went for “Poor little fishes”. We do like our cuddly animals, and a nice piece of battered cod.

Of course any nation keen on fish and chips will explode like an oil rig at the slightest suggestion of their food being fouled up by fossil fuels. So it worked.

Shell caved in, at massive expense the oil rig was towed to Norway and dismantled, piece by piece. And the marketing people at Greenpeace sat back contented at a job well done. Before ordering more diesel to power their dinghies.

Alex Woodruff

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